We have just had the opportunity to use and review a quite captivating science course, complete with teaching videos: Physics 101 from The 101 Series. This was a brand-new way for us to experience science and we learned a ton while truly enjoying ourselves! (You really have to love it when you can say that about schoolwork.)
The 101 Series
The 101 Series was created by Wes and Tammy Olson. Homeschoolers themselves, the Olsons researched and created The 101 Series when they didn’t find high school science curricula that was just right for their family. Wes Olson, who worked in corporate filmmaking for over 15 years, also has a deep interest in science. Working together with scientific experts, Wes brings his own filmmaking expertise to produce excellent, understandable science from a Christian worldview. The Olsons have produced three high school science curricula thus far: Physics 101, Chemistry 101, and Biology 101. (I understand from their website that they’re currently working on a general science curriculum as well!
The 101 Series’ Physics 101
Physics 101 is a 4-disc DVD set which contains 20 chapters of video material. It’s designed for high school students, ages 15 and up (though my son is a bit younger than that and enjoyed and understood it well). Each chapter, or lesson, teaches about a specific area of physics, in videos which last from 20-40 minutes apiece. The video lessons are taught by Wes Olson, who’s an engaging and often funny teacher. The chapters are divided into 7 different areas, with 1-3 lessons in each chapter, covering:
- The Physics of Light
- The Physics of Sound
- The Physics of Heat
- The Physics of Electricity
- The Physics of Motion
- The Physics of the Weird (hilarious, I know–but that’s really the section title!)
- The Future of Physics
However, this DVD set is not only teaching videos. One disc also contains a printable student guidebook, quizzes for each lesson, and a lesson plan for the teacher to use. Students use the guidebook and the videos to create a physics notebook, complete experiments, do further research on various topics, and write papers on what they learn. It’s an excellent program which utilizes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning methods, as well as helping students refine their own research skills.
How we used it
Physics is something that I always wish I had learned more about. I have a decent background in optics—and while that is awesome, it still leaves out sound, motion, electricity, and heat. (Probably more than that, but that’s what I am aware of at the moment!) Anyway, I was very excited for us to use and review Physics 101, and my son Jackson (who’s 14) and I worked together on the various lessons. The teachers’ plans for each segment are fantastic, and give clear instructions on how the student should complete each segment. We simply followed those plans. First, we’d watch the videos. The student guidebook serves as a sort of textbook that goes along with the videos, and could either be used alongside the videos, or read after we viewed them. There are discussion questions which will also deepen and expand the students’ understanding of the various physics lessons and applications. Following that, we completed the labs (a.k.a. experiments) which are included in each segment. Jackson then did the research and wrote essays on the topics listed (e.g., why is the sky blue? Why is my face upside down in a spoon? etc.). To close out the learning for each segment, students watch the teaching video once more and then take a quiz, which is included in the guidebook.
I can sum them up in one word:
Wes Olson takes the sometimes ephemeral truths and lessons about some non-tangible scientific principles—and makes them clear and understandable. Really! Did you ever think about how God created light first…but the sun wasn’t created until the 4th day of creation? Hmm! That’s very interesting, isn’t it? And there is a scientific principle behind that that I have never, ever heard before. I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you what it is, but I’ll give you a key word that might be in the answer: electrons.
Or how about that sky that is so blue…what makes it that way? (Hint: it’s not the oceans.) Or why exactly are the things in your driver’s side rearview mirror closer than they appear? There is a reason for that and it has to do with convex mirrors. Or…why do oil and water refract things differently?
All of those questions can be answered by….physics! And it is truly fascinating. Jackson and I were amazed and so interested in the videos. We always enjoy experiments, and I appreciated the way that all of the labs more deeply teach the principles taught in the videos. Jackson says: “He is a good person to be (teaching) it because he can add good humor to a situation.” I think that might be my son’s way of saying that Mr. Olson makes physics both fun and fascinating, never dry or boring.
One thing in particular was a learning experience I believe my son had that was influenced by the great teaching on the videos (as well as the additional research he did on his own). There were two times when we would be watching the video teaching when he made a leap of understanding; where he took the information that he was learning from the teaching video and was able to extrapolate, or draw further conclusions about scientific principles. That was so exciting!
I also appreciated the extra research Jackson had to do. Both websites and library books, or other reference materials, can be used for the research. Jackson wrote his essays on the computer, then printed them for his notebook.
Physics 101 covers the equivalent of one year’s high school science study. For our purposes it was very, very effective.
Where can you find The 101 Series?
You may purchase Physics 101 from The 101 Series, simply by clicking the links and heading over to the company’s site. In fact, you may also purchase other excellent science curricula, like Chemistry 101 or Biology 101, from the same website. Would you like to find out more about those other courses? Many Crew members reviewed one of these three courses, and you can find out more about their experiences by clicking the banner below.
You can visit The 101 Series at their social media sites: