My son really enjoys science and math. At 13, he's completed high school level courses in Astronomy, Earth Science, Algebra 1, and Geometry. In the coming year, he'll be taking a biology lab at our co-op. I was thrilled, then, when I received an opportunity to review online biology with Fascinating Education.
Online Biology with Fascinating Education
The online biology course with Fascinating Education, created by Dr. Sheldon Margulies, is a video based curriculum. Dr. Margulies is a neurologist and taught medical students and residents prior to developing this curriculum. The Fascinating Education science courses are designed to make learning science fun and easy. In Fascinating Biology, students will learn the basic principles of biology, including the components of life. Dr. Margulies teaches that all living systems are made from atoms and are based in the logic of chemistry. Lessons include cell membranes, use of nutrients, growth, adaptation, cell reproduction, and more.
The course lessons are laid out in a table format that is easy to use. Simply click on the lesson you'd like to view.
There are a total of 18 lessons. which could lead you to believe that it's not a robust program. That wouldn't be the case. Each lesson includes:
- a video lesson with colorful images and voice over
- a PDF script of the lesson that is verbatim text of the video
- a review video
- a PDF script of the review
- an online test
The online tests are multiple choice and vary in length. Tests are graded automagically, and you can print the results, which I strongly advise, since test results are not saved into a grade record.
You do have the option to add your student's name prior to printing. The results will display the name you enter, along with the date/time the test was taken, the student score, what the passing score is, and result of pass/fail.
You can then just send the test results to your printer or save it as a pdf if your system allows it. I do both, because I have a tendency to lose (or discard) lose papers. At the end of a course, I reprint any pages I may have accidentally recycled. ;)
You also have the option of printing all tests and answer keys, if you prefer to do so.
Because the grades are not saved onsite, you will need to calculate the cumulative grade or use software that does it for you. I use a homeschool planning site that automagically calculates the cumulative grades, and it's a beautiful thing.
One of the things that I appreciate about the video curriculum is that if you accidentally log off, or if you stop mid-lesson, it will display a prompt when you return asking if you'd like to resume where you left off.
Is it Secular or Christian?
Well, honestly, it's ambiguous. The site has this to say about how it approaches Evolution and Creation.
We firmly believe that the Bible is God's Word to us, and that Genesis 1:1, which says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is not ambiguous at all. It is declarative, and we believe it is true. In general, we teach from a Christian worldview, which includes creationism.
That said, I am not naïve and realize that my kids are going to encounter other worldviews in education and in life. For this reason, we will often stop during a lesson and determine “which worldview is this written from?” whether it be written from a Young Earth Creationist view, an Old Earth Creationist view, or an Evolutionary view. We won't shy away from biology curriculum that is written from a secular viewpoint or an ambiguous one. Instead, we recognize the differences between that viewpoint that is taught and our own, and move on. We have used secular science books for high school sciences in the past (see my middle school curriculum guide), and know that his college science classes will likely be taught from a secular viewpoint.
What We Think of Fascinating Biology
Overall, the online biology course with Fascinating Education is easy to understand and user friendly. It requires little teacher input, which is great for independent learners. We like the included glossary that enables us to look up unfamiliar terminology. We'd love if there were a set of printable vocabulary words, but it's not a big deal, as the terms are clearly explained within the scripts. As a parent, it would also be great if it save test scores and calculated the cumulative grade throughout, but it's not a deal breaker that it doesn't. It would also be great if the student had a separate login from the parent, as the answer keys are accessible to students if they care to go digging for them.
More from Fascinating Education
The courses offered by Fascinating Education include:
- Fascinating Intro to Chemistry
- Fascinating Chemistry
- Fascinating Biology
- Fascinating Physics
- Fascintating Medicine – a two part course that includes Anatomy & Physiology, as well as Logic of Medicine.
I should note that the site does state that Dr. Margulies believes that since much of biology is based on the chemical properties of the components of cells, it would be smart to start with Fascinating Chemistry. It so happens that the Biology labs are what is offered this coming year at our co-op, so we're starting with Biology.
Save on Fascinating Education Courses
Fascinating Education is offering 25% off any single or multi-course package with coupon code BACKTOSCHOOL. Valid July 1 – Aug. 15, 2021.
Win a Course from Fasciniating Education
I really don't want you to miss the opportunity to enter this giveaway, so just in case, if the giveaway widget doesn't populate, click the pink button to go enter it!