EdTechLens is a company that has developed an online science curriculum for Kindergarten through 5th grade. However, unlike many other online science programs, it is not animated or e-reading of a textbook. It is an interactive, photorealistic curriculum that uses slideshows, still photography and video clips to engage the student. The colorful nature and interactive structure of the program makes it inviting to the youngest of elementary student but engaging and interesting to the older students as well.
Rainforest Journey is the first e-science program developed by EdTechLens and is an life science enrichment program. There are 34 lessons in the program covering 5 units which include The Big Picture, Adapt or Die!, Animals, Plants and Fungi, and Ecosystem. Each lesson has lessons, activities, assessments and primary resources.
The lessons are theme-based, which means they cover the same topics at all grade levels just with increasing topic complexity so your students are studying the same thing in science. Assessments come in several forms including multiple choice questions, open-ended discussion questions, and depth-of-knowledge questions to invoke discussion and conceptual thinking. There is an end of lessons review and hands-on activity suggestions that can be done at home. Video clips and slideshows are rich in color and make the student feels as if they are in the rainforest. One of the unique aspects of Rainforest Journey is that they want the student to feel involved in the lesson and the scientist interviews, actual rainforest video clips and photography of children in a rainforest setting, and rainforest journal help the student feel as if he has traveled there.
Optional activities and resources are provided after each lesson including a book list for continued study and additional hands-on activities. The program runs on all devices including computer, tablets and mobile devices which makes it great if you have to school on the go.
The parent/teacher dashboard is included with all subscriptions and is a separate login for the parent/teacher where the student accounts are managed and customized. This is an great feature allowing password resets, student progress tracking and assignment review.
The reasons that the program is considered an enrichment program rather than a complete e-science program is that it does not cover the anatomy requirement for a complete life science program; however, EdTechLens is in the process of adding this section to their program.
We we thought about Rainforest Journey
We were given access to the Kindergarten program and the 5th grade program. Both kids were studying life science and on the same subjects, which makes discussion easy. Even though my Kindergarten child was studying a more brief lesson on Life Science, he is studying the same basic concepts as my 5th grader, which I really loved.
The fact that it is compatible with all electronic mediums was great. We occasionally head to grandmas or are short a computer. That means that someone might be using a tablet. I liked that we were able to continue out science lessons on the devices that were available and on the go if needed.
The colorful, interactive nature of the program was very impressive. The videos and photography were very professional and enticing. The rainforest pictures and animal life photography was top quality and made it very inviting for both students. They both enjoyed the lessons and the interactive nature of the program.
At the beginning, it wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked it to be to make way through the program. My 5th grader figured it out pretty easily but my Kindergartener definitely required a lot of hand-holding in moving through the program. I typically sit with him during lessons anyway and discuss things with him but, if you are looking for a completely independent science program for the younger students, this one may be dependent upon your child. Mine was able to make his way through the program with little prompting after a few lessons.
We used the program about 3 days a week, which was good for science. The kids moved at their own pace. The program defaults to sequential order of the lessons; however, this can be changed in the parent dashboard allowing the lessons to be completed in a customized order. I left my Kindergarten student on the default; however, I allowed my 5th grader to work through the lessons in the order she found interesting. This gives her a little more control over her schooling, which she likes.
The Student interface moves the student through the lessons and gives them a choice to view their classes, the quiz results and the blog. The Science Blog is a fun place for the student to look at additional videos on life science like Raptors, Hawks, and Owls, Leafcutter Ants, How Chocolate is Made from Cacoa, Madagascar: The Small Country with the Big Gift, and It’s Snot Funny! Tree Frogs and Icky Sticky Foot Pads, to name a few. There are possibly hundred of slideshows and videos for extra learning. My kindergartener LOVED the videos but didn’t really like that they didn’t “talk” to him. Since he is a beginning reader, the videos with words printed on the slide was not something he liked. His favorite video that was “the best” was about Rainforest Hummingbirds. I would love to see MORE videos in this section.
The Kindergarten lessons are very short. For instance, each lesson is about 5 minutes if you complete the videos, which will read to you and then click on the review activity and complete it. If there is drawing or writing, it might take 15-30 minutes. We did some of this verbally because my son doesn’t like writing a lot. So you could spend about 15-30 minutes 3 days a week and take 1-2 weeks to get through a chapter. There are several lessons (4 or 5) in each chapter and several chapters in each unit.
My son would have preferred if it was all video based. He LOVED the videos and preferred that to the photos and slideshows. The slideshows only have printed words on them outside the lesson so he can’t read fast enough to follow along so he didn’t like these videos at all. My 5th grader did like the slideshows but preferred the video. There were not a lot of videos in the Blog section. She also stated she would like to see more videos here.
My 5th grader was able to move through the program independently and enjoyed the Science Blog extras as well. Her lessons were a little longer, about 15 minutes, and there was a decent amount of reading with her lessons, though she enjoyed the photographs and videos that go along with it. She did her lessons 3 times a week as well and enjoyed the drawing and printables.
All levels have extra’s like vocabulary words as well. The vocabulary words seems quite appropriate for their given level. I was a little worried about this with my non-reader, but the Kindergarten vocabulary words were simple, easy to understand, pertinent and had an icon to read them to him so they were a good addition.
Honestly, the program is great. Well put together and very easy to move through once the child gets the hang of it. It is interesting, engaging, and full of color, which the kids liked. The only negative I have about the program was that there were not a LOT of videos in the Student Blog section and many of the slideshows required reading. It would be nice if they had audio that read to the student what was printed on the slides.
Overall, we were very impressed with the program and both kids enjoyed it. Since we were studying Life Science this year, we will be continuing with this program. I think it will be a good fit for our homeschool.
You can view an Introduction video to the Rainforest Journey program here. And view a sample lesson from each grade level of the program here. Check it out and see what you think. Or click the banner below to see what the rest of the TOS Review Crew thought of EdTechLens and their Rainforest Journey e-science program.
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