Monday, October 18, 2010

Energy: Its Forms, Changes and Functions

I recently had the chance to review Energy: Its Forms, Changes & Functions by Tom Derosa and Carolyn Reeves.  This study is meant for 3rd-6th graders, and I've been using it with my 4th grader, Thomas.  Richard (1st grade) has listened to some of it too.

We are loving it.

The book consists of 20 "investigations" about energy, from basic concepts like what it is, where it goes, and how it is stored, to sections on various types of energy such as light, heat, magnetic, electrical, solar, wind, water and nuclear.  And it really is at a great level for 3rd-6th graders (or particularly science-loving younger kids too).

Each Investigation is set up similarly.  There is an introductory section where the student is presented with some questions to think about.  Some of these pages introduce (very briefly) a scientist such as Oersted or Faraday.  A problem is introduced to be investigated, and the procedure and observations are outlined.  The observation questions were great -- getting the kids (and Mom!) to think about what we actually saw as we did the investigation.

AFTER that, there is a page explaining the science of what we just did.  You know, the stuff most science programs have you learn before you actually do anything yourself.  This material was fantastic.

Finally, each investigation has a Dig Deeper section, and some questions to review what you learned.  The idea is that the students should usually choose one of the Dig Deeper suggestions to follow, depending on their interests.  Older students could be expected to do more.  Some of these suggestions involve more hands-on, many involve some type of research.  These Dig Deeper options make it pretty easy to beef up this to make it a good study for junior high kids.

One problem:  it would be nice to have a page in either the intro or the appendix as to what supplies we are going to need to do the hands-on activities.  Some of the items we needed are really straightforward and easy to locate, but there are a few that are a bit more obscure (like pipe insulation).  It isn't a huge deal, I can look ahead to see what we'll need.  But having it all on one page would be more convenient.  I don't know if that is something that is included in the Teacher Guide, which is available separately.

I do know the $4.99 Teacher Guide does include answers to the questions in the "What Did You Learn" section, which would be handy -- particularly if you are having your student do this independently.  The Teacher Guide also includes some additional activities.

We've been loving this study, and I am thinking about looking into some of their other books too.   Forces & Motion or Matter.  Not sure which ought to be first.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review. 

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