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Reviews of RSO Astronomy level 2?


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#1 boscopup

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Posted 20 October 2017 - 01:47 PM

I'm looking at this for my 5th grader who wants to study astronomy. Finding a good fit is hard for this child, but I like what I see. I'm going to try the sample and see what he thinks. But I thought I'd see if there are any reviews now that it's been out a couple months. :)

#2 serendipitous journey

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 01:08 PM

Briefly (we are barely keeping our heads above water here, metaphorically speaking):

 

Do try the sample.  We didn't make it through one day, perhaps because I am Too Fussy.  It does look like good stuff generally; FWIW, the child who trialed this is my 12 year old, fluent reader, fairly strong astronomy knowledge, current math program is AoPS Intro Counting & Probability. 

 

Our problems:

1.  The Biggie: I want my child to be able to do WTM-style work from the text: find and write definitions, for example.  So I assigned him the job of finding the bolded words in the first day's reading and writing them with definitions: the bolded words are ones that, as per usual science book practice, are defined in the accompanying text.  I got some very strange definitions out of him, and it turns out that the information given in the text is not always accurate or thorough.  The two that stick out in my mind are these:

 

"When all the different wavelengths are put together they form the electromagnetic spectrum.  Astronomers use different parts of the
electromagnetic spectrum to study different things in the universe. For example, different wavelengths are used to study black holes than are used to determine the concentration of water in a comet.

 

The wavelengths which make light are in the middle of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scientists use special instruments to detect wavelengths which are too long or too short to be seen." 

 

This is just wrong.  Everything on the electromagnetic spectrum is light, the middle bit is just what's visible.  This is not a persnickety detail, it relates to the fundamental properties of the electromagnetic spectrum.  And regarding "all the different wavelengths" I think this probably ought to be modified to limit the waves on the spectrum to those traveling the speed of light, but I'm no expert.  Both the child and I, however, know there are oodles of wavelengths that are not on the electromagnetic spectrum -- sound waves come to mind.  It takes a bit of hunting (a page or two back) to figure out that electromagnetic radiation is assumed here, and to glean that you have to know what you are looking for -- if a child doesn't already know the answer, I don't see how she could figure it out. 

 

"Scientists use experimentation, observation, and reasoning—the scientific method—to learn how things in the physical world work."  This is a total non-starter for a modern definition of scientific method.  I would be okay with a range of definitions but I think the key intuition is that the scientific method involves using experience/research to make testable predictions and then actually testing the predictions made.  Ideally the child would learn that the predictions need to be falsifiable and that the results of an experimental test can be used to refine the prediction, but the definition above is inadequate in every way. 

 

2.  A small bummer was that the "Stargazer's Notebook" unit study mentioned in the Teacher Manual isn't published yet.  This was annoying but wouldn't have stopped me using the program. 

 

3.  After I realized that I was going to have definition problems, and I looked over the text, I thought the writing and information might be simpler than my first impression.  I had my child look it over and we don't think he would have learned a great deal from the book, and he was totally unhappy at the math element in the first Famous Science Series assignment (calculate how long it took Curiousity to get from Earth to Mars, including daylight savings time and leap years). 

 

So we set it aside.  I was disappointed, but I absolutely need a book I can hand to my child for definitions &c and know that if he reads well, his output will be accurate AND know that the assignments given will not be demoralizing, and preferably not requiring online/computer research (I'm happy to acquire supplemental books) which many seem to.

 

HTH!!!  good luck! 


Edited by serendipitous journey, 04 November 2017 - 01:20 PM.


#3 boscopup

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 03:59 PM

Thank you for your review! :)

 

Do try the sample.  We didn't make it through one day, perhaps because I am Too Fussy.  It does look like good stuff generally; FWIW, the child who trialed this is my 12 year old, fluent reader, fairly strong astronomy knowledge, current math program is AoPS Intro Counting & Probability. 

 

Ok, sounds like your son is waaaaay more advanced than mine, so I'm glad you said that. :) Mine is younger and doing AoPS Prealgebra, but he doesn't have a lot of astronomy knowledge yet, and he is just reading at grade level (5th grade) and not able to write much yet. Doing definitions from the reading would send him running. :lol:

 

On point 1: The electromagnetic radiation thing was pretty clear to us, so that isn't a problem here. We both understood it pretty well and didn't see any problems. My dad did note that there were electrnomagnetic radiation waves outside of what the cheezy supplemental youtube song said, but most sources I see (like NASA) don't mention those for students either. So I'm cool with it.

 

On point 2: The dictionary definition of scientific method seems about the same as what they listed. I don't quite understand the problem there. Maybe you're wanting a more mature definition than what elementary/middle school children usually get? So again, this wasn't a problem for us. Maybe you could point me to a site for students that gives a definition along the lines of what you're looking for, so I can see the difference.

 

So far, we've enjoyed the curriculum We got through lesson 1. We did skip the math calculation in the FSS for that lesson. I didn't see the point in doing that, and my dysgraphic son didn't want to work all that out.

 

We'll start lesson 2 week after next (I think we'll be doing history next week... I'm alternating a bit these days), and if we still like it, I'll buy it during the Black Friday sale. We've also been watching Cosmos, and we've taken some rabbit trails when questions came up.

 

I appreciate you writing a detailed review! I'm sure it will be helpful for others. It certainly had me off googling to get more information on the issues you had. :)

 

 


Edited by boscopup, 04 November 2017 - 04:08 PM.

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#4 serendipitous journey

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 05:42 PM

I'm so glad it is working well!  So much depends on the age & stage of the children, and their own personalities ... this might actually work well with my younger child, especially if he hits it at the age your child is (around 10 and not such an astronomy buff by nature) but was just not good for my older right now. 

 

Thanks for addressing the points about the definitions & math, and how you think about them and are handling them. 

 

ETA: it totally makes sense to me that the definition thing wouldn't be a big issue if a child isn't extracting them, and the program itself isn't designed to be used that way so mine was rather off-label use :)


Edited by serendipitous journey, 04 November 2017 - 06:00 PM.

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