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Interactive Science Middle School Program

By Sally Finley - Posted Mar 1, 2010
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Overall Rating: 5 stars

Installation: A

Content/Features: A

Ease of Use: A

Product Support: A

Company: Pearson Education, Inc., 1 Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. Phone: (800) 234-5832. Internet: www.interactivescience.com.

Price: The Interactive Science digital program is priced at $9.97 per student for a single year of access and $19.97 per student for 7 years of access.

The textbook version with a 7-, 8-, 9-, or 10-year subscription plan includes access to the digital program at no additional cost. With this option, free replacement write-in student editions are shipped every year for the life of the adoption.

Audience: Grades 6-8.

Format: Internet-based program: text, animation, graphics, video, audio.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with an internet browser, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Shockwave Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Apple QuickTime. A built-in diagnostic feature will check the computer and help with the installation of necessary components. Pop-up blockers must be deactivated.

Description: Interactive Science is an online science program for middle school that uses grade-level textbook and online resources.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: The program requires a login username and password for access. Installation was straightforward. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The Interactive Science program is based on NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) standards using the Understanding by Design model of Grant Wiggins, Ph.D. The content is presented as a science textbook organized by chapters. The section titles include Science Explorer, Earth's Structure, Ecology & Environment, and Forces and Energy.

The chapter features include a chapter preview, chapter project, key concepts and terms, a Discover activity, a Skills activity, chapter assessment, at-home activity, skills lab, chapter study guide, and standardized test prep. Each chapter includes videos and graphics to reinforce the concept and a self-checking Reading Checkpoint. 

The Chapter Assessment material includes a section summary, review, reinforcement activities, enrichment, and self-assessment. Immediate feedback is provided showing correct and incorrect answers.

A Go Online feature offers additional resources related to the topic of study within the chapter. Students can read online textbooks, take tests online, and complete remediation activities.

The myScienceOnline.com feature provides students with videos, virtual labs, interactive activities, vocabulary games, research opportunities, content-related math problems, and self-assessments. Each lesson opens with a Planet Diary section where students read about
a specific problem,
issue, fact, real-life event, or misconception and then blog about their reactions to one or two open-ended questions about the subject.

MyScienceCoach is an online interactive tool that provides additional activities and links to external websites supporting key science topics that can be set to individual Lexile reading levels.

The Teacher Home Page is divided into four sections for easy access to books, classes, resources, and messages from the publisher. A Teacher Management System provides teachers with the ability to create classes, use class rosters, and add students. Access is provided to both the teacher and student edition of textbooks for lesson planning.

Teachers can assemble and assign tests and activities for classes or selected students. Reports show test scores, mastery requirements, and individual student statistics. An Administrator Option supports teachers by uploading student information and providing student performance reports. A Reference Section provides additional support in the areas of Careers in Science, Interdisciplinary Exploration, a skills handbook, appendixes, and a glossary.

One of my favorite features of this program is the additional support offered by the Reference section. The Interdisciplinary Exploration Section in one of the chapters presented an interesting article on corn and offered a variety of activities in social studies, math, and language arts. The Skills Handbook reviewed the skills needed by a scientist, explaining the role of observation and prediction. Students had access to a review of measurement concepts such as length and liquid volume, as well as the components involved in scientific investigation.

I especially liked the Technology Design Skill Section that focused on how engineers design a new product. A Math and Reading Comprehension Review provided relevant and useful tools for the student. Learners have instant access to topics such as using a microscope and lab balance, the periodic table, a physical map of the U.S., star charts, and a list of chemical elements. Having these tools so readily available can be a valuable aid for the classroom teacher.

Classroom Applications: Interactive Science can be used with struggling readers and English-language learners. The integrated print and digital formative self-assessments will keep students on track. Learners needing additional support will benefit from the MyScienceCoach feature that provides additional activities at a reading level matching their instructional level. An audio version of the text is part of the online program.

Advanced students can move at their own pace using the videos, virtual labs, interactive activities, and research opportunities provided through myScienceOnline.com.

Students can be assigned sections of the text focusing on key concepts and resources to present to the class. For this project, they may use tools including presentation software, brochures, posters, and other media. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The program is easy to use. Access requires a username and password. Students can use any computer with internet access at school or at home. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Support is available online through an email link or via a toll-free telephone number. Online PDFs can assist the user with technical specifications, upgrades, and patches. A live chat link is also available online. Pearson provides training to registered users. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Interactive Science offers a hands-on, inquiry-based learning program using the latest technology tools. This program can make science come alive for middle school students as they work with the blended online and print combination designed to allow the opportunity to read, write, draw, graph, and self-assess in a personalized approach to learning.

The videos, virtual labs, and interactive activities offer a technologically relevant science curriculum and provide active involvement in the learning process. The content is presented in an eye-catching format using audio, video clips, and informative graphics. Students will experience science in action using the special features of this program, especially the online activities and virtual labs.

A major strength of an online program is the ability to keep the content timely and current. This online textbook can be revised easily to reflect the most current advancements and achievements in science.

It is essential that the classroom teacher be comfortable with technology if this interactive science program is going to be successful. In the right hands, this program can be a wonderful tool for our middle school students. I highly recommend it as an outstanding attempt to revolutionize the way we present science to our young people. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Educational Consultant, Coral Springs, FL.


 
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