Friday, February 11, 2011

Secular Middle School Science

I recently came across The JASON Project - a site offering science curricula to schools, homeschoolers and parents at no cost.  It is funded in part by the National Geographic Society, and presents each unit as a mission or expedition to make it fun and engaging for the students, and offers many online tools (videos, activities, quizzes, etc.) to aid in the learning process.

From the website...
"The JASON Project was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard, the oceanographer and explorer who discovered the shipwreck of RMS Titanic. Within months, he received thousands of letters from middle school students asking to join his next expedition. Dr. Ballard knew his discovery had tapped a wellspring of curiosity and excitement about science and was determined to feed it.

The result was The JASON Project, named for the mythological Greek explorer. Since then, JASON has connected more than 10 million students and teachers with real scientific exploration and discovery.

JASON's science curriculum units are designed to:
  • Light the spark of inspiration in students
  • Fit within school districts' core 5th-8th grade curricula
  • Adapt to higher and lower levels
  • Align to state and national standards
  • Cover at least five to nine weeks of material
  • Include numerous research articles, hands-on lab activities, videos, games, and multimedia resources
  • Include suggested lesson plans, extensions, interdisciplinary connections, and teacher resources for alignment, assessment, and classroom management."

We have not yet used JASON science, but I plan to in the next academic year. It is geared for middle school students, and my oldest will fit the bill in the fall. I spent several hours trying to navigate a unit and found it rather difficult from the perspective of planning out assignments, so I reached out to fellow homeschoolers over at Secular Homeschool (thank you!) for advice.  It sounds like other parents also found the website a bit tricky and that the easiest way is to order a hard copy of the book (approx. $25).With the book, you can find the resources on the website and navigate the lessons more efficiently.

I'm excited to look through the website in more detail and pick the units we'll use next year. I have a feeling this will be a good fit for my daughter, who loves science and has been asking to do more. If you are a current or prospective user please let me know what your experience has been, and feel free to offer any thoughts, advice, tips, etc. - I can generally use all the help I can get!