Sometimes here on the blog I try to give a review or answer on a curriculum that we’ve used that others want to know “What’s it like?”. No, I wasn’t compensated or paid to do this. We use BJU and I just wanted to share what it’s like. With BJU (Bob Jones University Distance Learning) offering an AWESOME winter sale on their Distance Learning products, I thought it would be a great time to give a “users perspective” on BJU Middle School science.
Which products have we used?
BJU Science 6, 7 and now 8.
We’ve done the streaming “online” products.
Why that one and not the dvds?
I love having access to the online Teachers Manual, all the printables, the efiles, etc. I like that everything is organized and easy to access. I SERIOUSLY considered switching to dvds for the ability to speed up the lessons. It’s frustrating to the kids sometimes when the same material is covered more than once, but with the streaming you can’s skip content or fast forward. With the streaming you also can’t have it run at 1.1 or 1.2 speed like we sometimes do with math. (I’m a Yankee… I talk fast…) With the grade 9 lessons being 45 minutes, I think saving 5-10 minutes a day would be awesome. But, the benefits of the streaming outweighs the draw of the dvd so we’ll stick with streaming.
What does a parent need to buy?
OK, first, there’s the online streaming. With the $99 deal that’s one part of the puzzle. You definitely need the student book. One per studdent. The activity manual is now included in the student book, so each student needs one. If the streaming uses an older edition of the books, you’ll need to make sure you get the student text AND the activity manual for each student. The TM is in the streaming, as are the online tests.
What about labs?
Up front, I am a lab person. I think science HAS to have labs to be a rich, full class. We’ve made our own kits, and bought kits. I think alternating buying and making is a good system year to year to use up old stuff. I am NOT a fan of watching the lesson and considering the lab done. Even if you pick 5 per year (and BIG ones – rockets, dissection, etc.) do them. Please, don’t skip them even if they’re a hassle…make a mess…seem worthless…are expensive…fail… Team up with a friend, combine kids, but do them!! (If you can’t make yourself do the BJU ones, buy a related ASK Kit. They’re amazing!!!)
If you aren’t a lab person – don’t skip the lab videos! There are questions on the tests that are covered in the labs, so the kids do need to watch them at a minimum.
How long does a day take?
The lesson itself (streaming) is 30 minutes, but often there is a need to stop and do some reading, so I’d say the lapse time is about 40 minutes. The after class work takes about 10-15 minutes. We budget an hour a day for BJU science.
What do the kids think?
My oldest kid is a SCIENCE NUT. This year we started with “something else” and after about two weeks she begged me to go back to BJU. More than once… No sale then…but, I bit the bullet and registered her. She LOVES BJU science and it’s extremely likely we’ll use it through graduation.
I like that BJU has a traditional approach with a lecture, quizes, tests, etc. Other than math, we haven’t taken a traditional approach to anything academic, so this approach is a great change. I have taught a lot of study skills using the text book and teaching understanding of things like: chapter objectives, chapter summaries, bold words, section reviews, chapter reviews, etc. These aren’t things my kids would have seen otherwise (we’re Sonlight users… so pretty outside the box!), so it’s been great to get them exposed to more “normal” school stuff and to prepare them for college textbooks. Yes, the science is awesome, but the variety of study skills your student will learn makes taking the online class even more profitable!
I love BJU science. My science loving kid *LOVES* BJU science. I think it’s super thorough, interesting, challenging, and fun. Yes, it takes some time. Daily. But, if you have a science lover, or you fear teaching upper level sciences, or you want to cover study skills in a traditional manner, and want it ALL done well – BJU might be a great fit for your family.