Dodgen Invitational, Science Olympiad

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Last week, our children participated in the Dodgen-Walton Science Olympiad Invitational, together with their team, Cedar Springs Homeschool. This invitational happens at the Walton High School in Marietta, GA. We compete against teams from public schools, private schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and there was another homeschool team, as well.

Cedar Springs Homeschool Team

Cedar Springs Homeschool Team for Science Olympiad

Invitationals are tough competitions which we attend in order to learn. We build on this experience. By the time we go to Regionals, State, and (hopefully) Nationals, we feel prepared. Continue reading »

Science Olympiad – Facebook Live

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Science Olympiad does not equal Science Fair. Many people have never heard of Science Olympiad and they assume it is a glorified Science Fair.

Occupy Mars

His Occupy Mars hoodie reflects his interest in rocket science, which he can hone during Science Olympiad.

Science Olympiad is a national tournament where teams compete for prizes and trophies after they qualified within their state. Every state declares one winner. The winners meet at an annual event, usually on a university campus. Last year, for instance, they went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Continue reading »

Lessons from the 27th Week

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Oh, what a week! It started out with a dress rehearsal and then the actual concert with Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestras. Our daughter plays in Preludium and our son in Sinfonia. Here are YouTube links to their concert: Preludium and Sinfonia.

SO Medals

2020 SO Medals – one medal for every event

They did well, as usual. It does not get old – that’s the first lesson. As much as we work with them in music lessons and driving them to orchestra practice, at the end of the day, it is worth it. If you can afford music lessons, it would probably be the best use of your money on extracurricular activities. Continue reading »

Lessons from the 22nd Week

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This week, we had time to take in the results of the Science Olympiad Invitational and catch up on other things. For instance, we have TeenPact One Day coming up at the end of the month and the homework needs to happen now. We also attended our first Science Class at Ripley’s Aquarium for 2020 and experienced mixed emotions.

Ripley's Aquarium Science Class

Aquarium Science Class for Homeschoolers – before it got really full

The room has now doubled in size. They opened up the partition wall between two classrooms to accommodate almost 40 students plus their parents and siblings. There must have been close to 70 people in that room. I teared up at one point, realizing how much homeschooling has changed since I got started seven years ago. Continue reading »

Generation Genius Science Curriculum

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Today I want to tell you about Generation Genius science curriculum. This program consists of 36 videos, 12 minutes each, on major science topics that we should cover in grades 3-5.

Every video comes with a lesson plan, a vocabulary list, a teacher guide, and activities to do before and after watching the video. Generation Genius was produced through a partnership with the National Science Teachers Association.

Generation Genius Videos

My children watching Generation Genius videos

My children will be in 3rd grade and 5th grade respectively this Fall, so this curriculum fits our needs very well. I can see how younger or older children would like it, too. The videos entertain, besides delivering solid scientific concepts. Continue reading »

2016 Aquarium Science Classes

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This is our fourth year attending science classes at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. It’s a bit shocking for me to write that, but it’s true. Four years already? At first, it was only my son and I going there. My mom was living with us at the time and she kept my daughter, age three at the time.

Boy and girl at Ripley's Aquarium

Before the class, they look at the fish.

The following year, they each attended their own class, but soon the Preschool class was canceled and my daughter joined my son in the K-2 class. Last year, they were perfectly matched to the K-2 class, as my son was in second grade and my daughter in Kindergarten. Continue reading » Review

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Here we are again, talking about science. is a wonderful online curriculum for K-2 which can also be used in grades 3rd-5th for review of key concepts. It was developed in 2010 and has since received several awards. The Department of Education gave them a grant for game-based learning innovation and they used it well. activity activity

This is an online curriculum so once you pay ($7.95 per month) they will send you login information and you are good to go. Once logged in, you can choose from four books: Life, Physical, Inquiry, and Earth/Space. Inside each book, you will find different modules which can be picked up in random order. Once inside a module though, you should start from the top left and work your way down through the activities in order.  Continue reading »

Ripley’s Aquarium Science Classes

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We have been attending science classes for homeschoolers at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for three years now. The first year, I left my daughter home with my husband and took my son to the class. He was in kindergarten. He got bored in the beginning. He told me he would like to leave once or twice. I sent him back to his seat and told him nicely that he will need to wait until craft time. Eventually, I brought her along and she sat next to me, taking in the atmosphere, the vocabulary, the experience.

The class has two parts: a Power Point presentation and a craft project. They have changed teachers once and both teachers have been top notch.


For the first time, I am posting every day for a month.

Because parents stay in the classroom, sometimes there are younger siblings who make noises. Once, it got really loud. There were a few too many toddlers around. That was the only time that I saw stress on the teacher. It was also the largest class I have ever seen – about 40 people were in the room.  Continue reading » Review

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I have written here before how science is not my cup of tea and how I delegate it as much as I can. One of the ways to delegate science is to buy a Online Subscription. has made it easy for me to integrate science in our homeschool routine. I am excited about this product because we have been using it in our homeschool for the past couple of months and it has helped me so much.

Not only has it given me hope that yes, I can actually homeschool even though I don’t like teaching science, but it has also given me time. You see, the children tutor themselves through a series of interactive activities on the computer screen and I have time to myself. Don’t get too excited. It’s not uninterrupted time. In fact, I am in the same room, doing things that allow me to pay attention to what they are learning. Why? Because there are discussion questions and, as my son reads them off the screen, they expect me to lead the discussion.

The kids are watching one of the short video presentations on

The kids are watching one of the short video presentations on

But at least I get some housekeeping items out of the way while they homeschool. When was the last time you swept the floor or checked your emails while your children were learning? One must remember my children are three and six. As such, they need a lot of hand-holding throughout their learning activities. But not with

I think it also prepares them for the future, when they will walk themselves through new material and only come to me with questions. At least, that’s the future I envision and hope for.

The online subscription, which is only $7.95 per child per month, allows you access to the full curriculum which consists of four books of science – Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth/Space. Each book breaks down into units, which break down into modules. There are 28 modules total in For my children, it takes about one hour to finish a module. They are not bored and it goes by fast.

If you were to follow their lesson plans and if you had a larger group of students, each module would take two weeks to teach in 30-minute increments. This curriculum was designed for either a classroom setting or a homeschool setting. So you make it your own.

This is what we do: my son is six and he handles the laptop. My daughter is three and she just sits there, watching it all unfold and learning by osmosis. Pun intended. We log in and I let them choose whichever module they want to do. He walks them through the screens, which are interactive and intuitive. Now and then they ask for help and I am right there, so I help.

Science4Us Review
I have not used their lesson plans because I feel the material they cover through the online lessons and our offline discussions and activities is plenty for my children’s age. By the way, is geared toward grades K-2, but children in grades 3-5 can also use it as a thorough review of prior knowledge.

If you were to use all the teacher materials provided, you would do a thorough job of teaching science. They give you a description of each lesson, core concepts covered, essential vocabulary and even professional development in the form of videos or a PDF. So even if you are shaky on some of the subject matter, the professional development area for each lesson plan will equip you to teach with confidence.

Each module is structured according to the 5-E instructional model. Thus, you will have Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. Engage is the part where the students activate prior knowledge, so that the new concepts will be connected to something they might already know. Through a short video and a quick exercise where they are asked to circle items that give natural light, for instance, they are then ready for a teacher-lead discussion.

Science4Us Review

Explore follows the same pattern: online activities which the students can do on their own, followed by offline discussions and offline activities. Explain represents the core of your lesson and teaching.

Under Elaborate, several activities have been designed to offer not only science instruction, but literacy and math concepts. Silly Bulls is a cute section where children get to break words into syllables (and yes, there are some silly bulls dancing around before and after the section, but it’s brief and almost painless). Take A Note, on the other hand, is where they learn about why and how scientists record their findings. Investigate and Alphabetizing round up this section of the lesson plan.

Finally, Evaluate tests the students. I like how they try to relax the students before taking the quiz, with a cute army of ants who sing while marching. They also say things like, “You already know this. Just show what you know.” This is good preparation for taking more formal tests, in my opinion.

Science4Us Review
I am very proud that my son gets 100% on these tests, often completely on his own. He always wants me there for the quiz though and I have to help him think through the answers sometimes. I don’t mind, because I think that, at his age, he needs to be taught the process of accessing his database of knowledge and working through answering a question.

At this point, my three-year-old daughter sits and takes it all in. She suggests a module now and then and my son obliges, clicking on the right icon. She likes repetition and some of the characters teaching them, so she will ask to repeat an activity.

Again, I think it is perfectly fine for them at this age to have fun with it and enjoy a less structured approach while getting all the benefits of learning. The other day she saw her own reflection in my computer screen and said, “Look, mama, my reflection!” I really like how they add vocabulary painlessly through these lessons.

You should know that you can log in either as teacher or as student. As a teacher, you have access to your class roster, where you can add or delete students, preview curriculum, assign curriculum to certain students, monitor their progress and see how many minutes they logged in, their notebook entries and their test results. It gets so detailed, you can actually see how many attempts they had at a quiz, what they got wrong, and when they completed the test for the first time.

On their site, you will find some free examples of some of their lessons, which I invite you to take a look at. You don’t really know what a product feels like until you try it out yourself.

Science4Us Review

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Science, Not Exactly My Cup of Tea

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Words do come easy to me. Science, well, that’s another thing altogether. Science is the subject I struggle with the most in our homeschool. So I delegate it to:

Let me put it this way: I made good grades in science when I was in school because I studied hard for every subject, but I did not enjoy science.

Science experiment - dad and children

Daddy working with the kids on a science project. I gladly stood nearby, watched and took pictures.

The only science I enjoyed was Chemistry, especially Organic Chemistry, which we studied in the 11th grade in Romania. But I did not like Biology or Physics.

I just could not wrap my mind around mechanics. Oh, I could memorize facts and formulas and apply them to problems so that I could solve them and get a good grade on a test.

But it took me a long time to understand that if two trains are running in a similar direction, they approach each other at Speed 1 minus Speed 2, for instance. The weird thing is, I had no problem getting the concept that if these trains were to run toward each other, they would approach each other at Speed 1 plus Speed 2. Go figure.

For me, it is a lot easier to read a good piece of literature or to memorize the conjugation of French verbs. I love memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules. I thrive on it. But science? Eh, I could skip over it any day.

Thankfully, a homeschooling mom does not have to teach everything. So, I delegate science.

When my kids are studying with, I just sit on the sidelines and answer questions, if need be. When daddy teaches them, I just watch and record it in my homeschool planner and record book. When my son is taking a homeschool science class at Ripley’s Aquarium, I sit back and enjoy. That is my strategy and I’m sticking to it.

To see what other moms struggle with in their homeschool, click the picture below.

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