Friday, April 18, 2008

Mad Science

Last summer I met some folks at the Association of Virginia Homeschoolers conference who had the Richmond franchise for Mad Science.

I was enthralled by all the great science programs they offered children. Enthralled and jealous of Richmond homeschoolers. I wanted this resource on my doorstep, not in Richmond. A few weeks ago I was excited to discover that we have our own Mad Science franchise in Hampton Roads.

Fellow homeschoolers tell me that their homeschool science programs are superb. They are starting one on May 8th and I've signed Ben and Shira up for the class.

The blurb from their flyer states:
Mad Science of Hampton Roads is proud to announce that we will be offering
our popular Academy of Future Space Explorers course specifically for homeschooled students. Mad Science and the NASA Langley Center for Distance Learning collaborated to create this exciting program that sends children on a voyage of discovery. With unique hands-on activities, amazing demonstrations and fun educational take-homes, this is an experience that is truly
out of this world!


I haven't told Ben about this yet because I can't face daily interrogation about whether it is time to start the course on space yet. Ben's totally obsessed with space (and weather). He's going to be beyond excited to discover that he's going to be doing a 6 week course at Mad Science.

I was nosing around their website and found that they have done some research on children who have done their science courses.

A brief summary of the results are as follows: (more info can be found here.)

1. INCREASED SCIENCE CONTENT KNOWLEDGE
Students who participated in Mad Science showed significant change in their science content knowledge in space-related science on average, with an increase from 46% correct at pre-test to 65% correct post-test, a 19% increase in score. In contrast, comparison group students showed very little change in their science content knowledge with a slight increase
from 47% to 50% on average, a 3% gain in performance. The difference in pre to post-test gains between groups was found to be statistically significant.
2. INCREASED INTEREST IN SCIENCE
Students participating in Mad Science reported greater interest in space-related science after participation, with an increase from 21.6% who reported high interest in their pre-tests to 32.2% post-test. Comparison group students reported no change in their level of interest (22.3% pre and post).
3. INCREASED ATTITUDE THAT SCIENCE IS “FUN”
A significantly higher percentage of students who participated in Mad Science reported a change in their attitudes that “science is fun” after their experience (70% at pre-test to 83% post-test.) In contrast, comparison group students reported minimal change (67% at pre- test to 68% post-test).
4. INCREASED INTEREST IN SCIENCE IN LOW AND MODERATE INTEREST STUDENTS
39% of students with a low interest in science prior to exposure to Mad Science experienced an increase in their level of interest in science to either moderate or high after experiencing Mad Science. 29% of students with a moderate level of interest in science prior to exposure to Mad Science experienced an increase in their level of interest in science to high after experiencing Mad Science.


I'll report back after the kids have started their Mad Science class, so watch this space.

2 comments:

Michelle (the beartwinsmom) said...

Man, that looks like a TON of fun. Casey would LOVE that so much.

Shez said...

You have no idea how excited I am about this course. I see many courses with them in our future. I love the idea of having someone else set up the messy experiments.