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Noeo Homeschool Science Review by Kris Price (and kids!)

Randy Pritchard
Noeo Science Curriculum, Ltd.
7020 Barbuda Drive
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525

Item under review: Noeo Science - Physics II: Gizmos, Gadgets, Gears and Gravity!

If you are a Classical or Charlotte Mason homeschooler, then you definitely need to check out Noeo Homeschool Science. Randy Pritchard, a veterinarian and homeschooling father has written the material at two different levels for children ages 5-12. Level I is for ages 5-8 (or Grade Level 1-3), Level II is for ages 9-12 (or Grade Level 4-6). There are 3 subjects covered at each level - Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Each subject is intended for a complete year of study, thereby immersing the child in the subject matter instead of jumping around from topic to topic.

The product used for this review was the complete Physics II kit which included the following items:
Physics II: Gizmos, Gadgets, Gears, and Gravity! Instructor's Guide
Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia
Usborne Internet-Linked Mysteries and Marvels of Science
Gizmo's and Gadgets - Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why)
Archimedes and the Door of Science
Along Came Galileo

The Young Scientists Club - Experiment Kits as follows:
Kit #23 - Electricity
Kit #24 - Circuits and Electromagnets
Kit #25 - Magnetism
Kit #26 - Static Electricity
Kit #31 - Stars
Kit #32 - Planets
Kit #36 - Famous Scientists and Their Experiments

The retail on the kit is almost $175, but if you buy it directly from the publisher, you receive a 20% savings!

Upon opening up the Instructor's Guide, which came in its own three-ring binder, there are several pages discussing the philosophy behind the curriculum. The author gives ideas for two and four-day schedules and explains how to set up Lab Notebooks. Blank reproducible lab forms are included to make this an easier task. Also included is a Master Supply List which details items that will be needed for various experiments. The list also tells the parent which week these items will be needed so that they are not surprised and find themselves scrambling to gather items at the last minute. I would still recommend looking ahead to each week as experiments from the Gizmo and Gadgets book require items mostly found around the house, but you may not have that item handy at that time!

The final set of pages in the binder are the 36 weeks worth of Weekly schedules. Each week is broken down into four days with each day already laid out on a graph. All readings and experiments are assigned, so the parent and/or student can just open and go! Some days require the student to define terms or summarize a scientific law or principle. The included kits are very helpful for a parent (like myself) who has a difficult time pulling it all together to get experiments done and are used in 11 of the 36 weeks. Seven of the 36 weeks are spent studying Archimedes and Galileo. These three or four-week biographical studies offer a nice break from all of the facts and experiments that will be done during the year-long study.

There are several additions that I would like to see made to this curriculum in future updates. Just looking at the weekly schedules didn't tell me exactly what topic was being covered that week. Each week should be titled so that the parent knows at a glance what the child is studying. This would also be useful so that the parent could quickly look up further information, if desired. I also think it would be nice for an answer sheet to be included for the parent to use to check their child's work (defining vocabulary, summarizing concepts, etc.). Finally, I wish there were some notes and/or questions and answers each week for use in discussions with the student, especially the weeks of reading the biographies about Archimedes and Galileo. I believe the lack of this is explained in the author's thoughts about the curriculum design when he states, "We do not promote rote memorization or the worksheet and test methodology, as we think that this approach is less valuable for long-term retention." However, I think this would be a welcome addition for most families.

All in all, I would highly recommend this curriculum for its variety and fun approach to the topic of Physics. My children enjoyed the experiments in Gizmos and Gadgets and were able to do many of them on their own without my supervision. They began to "own" the material presented. The first books that my 6th grader grabbed upon opening the box were the biographies; she gave them a big "thumbs-up!" I am always impressed with the quality of Usborne books and use them often in my homeschool, so I was pleased to see them used in Noeo Homeschool Science. My 4th grader loves the bright pages and will read them on his own. If you are looking for a science curriculum which presents the material in an easy-to-use format, is fun for both parent and student and comes to your home with EVERYTHING in one box, then you should definitely take a look at Noeo Homeschool Science! I know that I'm also considering buying the Chemistry II kit for future use!

-- Kris Price (and kids!), Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2006