Company: Discovery Education, One Discovery Place, Silver Spring, MD, 20910. Phone: (800) 323-9084. Internet: www.discoveryeducation.com.
Price: $1,695—Annual school subscription with 24/7 online access for a school’s educators and students. A 30-day free trial is available.
Audience: Grades K–5.
Format: Internet-based: video, audio, text.
Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a web browser and internet access.
PC users must have a media player to play the videos. Windows Media Player and QuickTime are available for download on the Discovery Education site. The Windows Media plug-in must be installed in the browser. Download instructions are included for Macintosh users.
Description: Discovery Education Science for Elementary provides an online standards-based curriculum in earth, life, and physical science through virtual labs, simulations, and reading passages using an inquiry-based framework.
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Installation: No installation is required for this online program. A login is needed for access. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: Discovery Education Science for Elementary is an extension of the Discovery Education Science for Middle School program. The material covers earth science (earth features, earth history, weather/climate, earth’s natural resources, the earth/sun/moon system, and space/the solar system); life science (plants, animals, cells, human body, living things, organisms/environment, and ecosystems); and physical science (matter, changing matter, energy, sound/heat/light, electricity/magnetism, and forces/motion).
The program offers appropriate resources to guide student learning through four online areas: Learn, Explore, Demonstrate, and Extend.
The Learn section provides reading passages and ebooks, as well as inquiry-based introductions with video segments. Audio support enables students to listen to the text as it is read.
The Explore section includes virtual labs and inquiry-based explorations of topics within a unit. The Demonstrate portion assesses student understanding through selected response questions or a teacher-generated question sheet. The Extend section enables students to access middle school resources and explore interrelated topics.
An interactive glossary provides explanations of scientific terms using animation, videos, and images. The glossary is excellent. The videos and images used to explain the scientific terms are creative and informative.
The Teacher Center offers a variety of tools including Assignment Builder (used to build and store assignments); Assessment Manager (used to build formative assessments and view results); and Classroom Manager (used to build and manage the classroom).
I really liked the customization features of this site. The My Content feature, accessible from anywhere on the site, allows teachers to collect, organize, share, and retrieve favorite resources. Using the Assignment Builder, teachers can build online activities and web-based projects that are stored on the Discovery Education servers and accessed through the Science Connection Student Center.
Step-by-step directions are included to guide teachers as they create inquiry-based lessons. Assessment is an essential part of the process; teachers can generate their own assessment questions.
The Process Skills Library and Featured Series Library provide resources and video clips.
Professional development offerings are provided in the form of 5-minute science content preparations, a Trainer’s Toolkit for enhancing staff development workshops, Tech Talk for initiating Discovery Education Science for Elementary at a school, best practices for inquiry-based instruction using short video segments, and interactive training with self-paced lessons.
The professional development resources would be very useful in training school staff and helping them use the program to its fullest extent. The self-paced lessons will help school staff quickly understand the program and find ways to make it fit student needs.
Classroom Applications: Discovery Education Science for Elementary offers a variety of options for use in the classroom. The content can be used for whole group instruction to reinforce curriculum. ESL (English as a second language) students would benefit from the audio support provided with the printed text. A classroom center could be set up for individual or small groups to view the video segments and then share their findings with the class. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: The program is intuitive and easy to use. Color-coding and simple formatting make it simple for the user to move from one feature to the other. Menu bars at the top of each screen provide quick access to content. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: A Help feature provides extensive support on getting started, troubleshooting, technical documentation, Teacher Center tools, and customization.
Users can request support through toll-free telephone assistance or by using an online email form. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: Discovery Education Science for Elementary offers the busy classroom teacher a fast and efficient way to provide students with access to reliable, easy-to-understand information on science concepts. The program provides suitable materials and resources to teach, review, and reinforce science learning. The resources are based on science standards and meet the needs of students with multiple learning styles.
The program offers students an engaging mix of practical demonstrations and explorations. The reading passages are leveled and will support literacy instruction across the curriculum. The Virtual Labs give students the opportunity to practice science "just like" real scientists. Math skills are reinforced as students make hypotheses, change variables, interpret data, and draw conclusions supported by the data.
Discovery Education Science for Elementary is an excellent way to engage elementary students in scientific inquiry. I highly recommend this program as a means of improving student achievement in the sciences. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Sally Finley, Educational Consultant, Coral Springs, Fla.