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Science is more than a classroom… it’s actually pretty difficult to define. Science is not about what we know, but rather about how we face what we don’t know.  It’s not a textbook of principles, set of rules, or collection of factoids. It’s a process, a thing you do. Science is what happens when you ask questions, get back answers, and try to figure and make sense of it all.
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Science gives you a way to ask questions and get back answers. There are many different ways to do this, the Scientific Method being only one of the ways of sorting and sifting through the information as you go along.  We’ll be teaching about several different methods as we go along in our program and highlighting which methods are most used by real scientists and engineers.

Believe it or not, there’s a straightforward method to doing science. You can’t just sit around and argue about how things work, but you actually have to do experiments and be able to measure your results.  And other people have to get be able to get those same results on their own, too! While this sounds basic, it wasn’t until the 1500s when Tycho Brahe suggested that people do experiments to figure things out instead of discussing (and arguing) about the way things should be.

What we don’t know is just as important as what we do know. But how do we fit all of these things together?  We can break science down into three basic questions:

  1. What IS it?  What is it made of, look like, act like? (This is where you describe it.)
  2. How does it work?  Why is it that way? What are the physics behind it?
  3. How does it move through time? How did it start, develop through time, and end? What are the laws of physics that determine how things unfold in time?

Most things in science do not yet have answers to all three of these questions! Sometimes parts of learning is unlearning some of the things you think you know. Things that you’re pretty sure are right!  Scientists have struggled with this for When you really think about it, a lot of science is actually unlearning. Science challenges you to rethink what you think you already know:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~Mark Twain

Sometimes unlearning the ‘absolute truths’ that have stood for thousands of years is part of the science process. Here are a few examples: the Sun revolving around the Earth; the ocean was bottomless; there’s no life in Antarctica; the Earth is flat…

So how do we establish what we do and don’t know? One of the most surprising things we’ve learned is that although the Universe is incredibly vast (it’s way bigger than any human being), but it still able to be understood.

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” ~Albert Einstein

When you first start out doing real science, it may seem awkward, disjointed, difficult, even a bit weird. But that’s just because you’re new at it.  People aren’t instant experts at new stuff, and you shouldn’t expect to master something in a heartbeat that is going to last you a lifetime.

“It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.” ~Naomoto Musashi

Some of this science stuff we’re going to cover will be new to you, unfamiliar, even off-putting.  (What do you mean lightening strikes twice in the same place?”) But just stick with it and I guarantee that it will pay off.  You’ll notice this when things start to ‘snap’ into place as you gain an amazing understanding of not only the rules of the universe, but how to think and question new stuff that comes your way.


I gave a teleclass on the biggest *oops!* found in science textbooks, and in addition to the teleclass recording, I thought you’d enjoy an excerpt from my notes.  If you’ve found one or more of these in your books, it’s not the end of the world… but this may raise your awareness a few notches.

This article will outline the basic fundamental concepts in physics and give you real hands-on experiments you can share with your child that they will love. I’ve been teaching physics from grade school through college, and in this article I am going to address the common myths and misconceptions about physics and help you set the record straight.

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Click here to for the teleclass audio recording.

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Satellites don’t move in orbit. If you drop a ball, it falls 16 feet the first second you release it.  If you throw the ball horizontally, it will also fall 16 feet in the first second, even though it is moving horizontally… it moves both away from you and down to the ground.

Now consider another object, like a bullet shot horizontally.  It travels a lot faster than you can throw – about 2,000 feet each second. But it will still fall 16 feet during that first second.  Gravity pulls on all objects (like the ball and the bullet) the same way, no matter how fast they go.

What if you shoot the bullet faster and faster?  Gravity will still pull it down 16 feet during the first second, but remember that the surface of the Earth is round.  Can you imagine how fast we’d need to shoot the bullet so that when the bullet falls 16 feet in one second, the Earth curves away from the bullet at the same rate of 16 feet each second?

Answer – that bullet needs to travel nearly 5 miles per second. This is how satellites stay in orbit – going just fast enough to keep from falling inward and not too fast that they fly out of orbit.  Satellites need to constantly course-correct to keep on track.

If an object is at rest, no forces are acting on the object. Every object on Earth is held together by at least one of the Four Fundamental Forces of Nature: the Strong force, the Weak force, the Electromagnetic force and Gravitation.  These four forces are found within atoms and between objects, and they dictate the interactions between individual particles and the large-scale behavior of all matter throughout the universe. (Since the first two forces, the Strong and the Weak, require the use of a nuclear power plant, we’ll focus on the second two forces.)

Gravitation is the force that is always attractive (never repels or pushes away).  This is the force that pulls matter together and keeps your feet stuck to the sidewalk.  Gravitation causes comets to sling through our solar system, binds the moon to its orbit around the Earth, and is the sworn enemy of major league baseball pitchers everywhere.  We still don’t know why gravitation works… only that it does. (Is gravity made up of tiny particles called gravitons? We really have no idea…)

Sit in a chair.  If the Earth wasn’t counteracting the gravitational downward pull, you’d fall to the center of the earth.  You have a pair of forces acting on you –‘gravitational’ and ‘normal’. (‘Normal’ is just the name scientist use to name this force and has nothing to do with your sanity.)

Positively charged objects gain protons. The reason you get a shock by scuffing along the carpet is in the realm of the Electromagnetic Force.  This force determines how electrically charged particles interact, and is attractive or repulsive.  Similar charges (“like charges”)  repel each other (two positive or two negative charges).  Electromagnetic force is the dynamic behind blenders, dishwashers, aircraft engines, solar flares, and lasers… and is solely responsible for bad hair days worldwide.

When you scuff along the carpet, you are gathering additional electrons into your body and building up a negative charge, which stays with you until you touch the nose of your cat. (Although you will lose some through air leakage, but ignore that for now.) The electrons are the particles that orbit a nucleus of protons and neutrons.  The forces that glue together the nucleus are the strongest forces ever found (hence called the ‘Strong Force’), but the strength of this force depends on how far apart the objects are.

Energy and force are the same thing. Energy is a fuzzy concept and one of the most mis-defined concepts across the textbook spectrum.  Put simply, energy is the amount of work that can be performed by a force, usually measured in Joules (J), Calories (cal), or British Thermal Units (BTU). The rate at which work is performed is called power, and is measured in Horsepower (hp) and Watts (W or kW).

When a marble sits on top of an icy hill, it has potential energy (energy waiting to be converted into power) and no kinetic energy (energy in motion).  As the ball rolls and slides down the hill, the potential energy decreases and kinetic energy increases until you hit the bottom of the hill, when the potential energy has completely converted to kinetic energy.

Things ‘use up’ energy. Energy is always conserved, and this has nothing to do with running out of global resources.  The conservation of energy is the idea that “you get out what you put in”.  When you fuel your vehicle with gas or electricity, that energy is converted into work you can see (the car cruising down the road) as well as things you may have not noticed (heat from the engine, headlights, sound energy, recharging your electrical battery, etc.).  But not all machines are as complex as the internal combustion engine – chances are you are using several simple machines every day in your home.

Simple machines make our lives easier.  They make it easier to lift, move and build things.  Chances are that you use simple machines more than you think. If you have ever screwed in a light bulb, put the lid on a jam jar, put keys on a keychain, pierced food with a fork, walked up a ramp, or propped open a door, you’ve made good use of simple machines.

The only natural motion is for an object to be at rest. Take a look at the first law of motion.  When you place a ball on the floor, it stays put.  A science textbook will tell you this: An object at rest tends to stay at rest… unless acted upon by an external force. Your foot is an external force… so kick the ball!

Will the ball go on forever? Inside the house, the ball can hit a wall or window, so when you check with the science textbook you also read: An object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. After you kicked the ball (external force), it flies through the air until it smacks into something (another external force).

What about outer space?  If you tossed your ball in space (away from any nearby gravitational pulls like black holes or galaxies), it would continue in a straight line forever. Since there aren’t any molecules to collide with, and no gravitational effects to pull it off-course, the ball zooms through the space until something else makes it zoom off-course. Nothing unnatural about being in motion, is there?

But there are two other forces acting on the ball that you can’t see. One force is air resistance.  The ball smacks into tiny air molecules as it flies through the air.  The other force is gravitational.  Gravity is inherent in anything that has mass (including you!), but you need something the size of a planet before you can begin to see the effect this has on other objects.  So the universe is a dynamic place, full of motion and interacting forces.

EC96-43485-3Centrifugal and centripetal acceleration are the same thing. These two terms constantly throw students into frenzy, mostly because there is no clear definition in most textbooks. Here’s the scoop: centripetal (translation = “center-seeking”) force is the force needed to keep an object following a curved path.

Remember how objects will travel in a straight line unless they bump into something or have another force acting on it (gravity, drag force, etc.)? Well, to keep the bucket of water swinging in a curved arc, the centripetal force can be felt in the tension experienced by the handle (or your arm, in our case). Swinging an object around on a string will cause the rope to undergo tension (centripetal force), and if your rope isn’t strong enough, it will snap and break, sending the mass flying off in a tangent (straight) line until gravity and drag force pull the object to a stop. This force is proportional to the square of the speed… the faster you swing the object, the higher the force.

Centrifugal (translation = “center-fleeing”) force has two different definitions, which also causes confusion. The inertial centrifugal force is the most widely referred to, and is purely mathematical, having to do with calculating kinetic forces using reference frames, and is used with Newton’s laws of motion. It’s often referred to as the ‘fictitious force’.

The other kind, reactive centrifugal force, happens when objects move in a curved path. This force is actually the same magnitude as centripetal force, but in the opposite direction, and you can think of it as the reaction force to the centripetal force. Think of how you stand on the Earth… your weight pushes down on the Earth, and a reaction force (called the “normal” force) pushes up in reaction to your weight, keeping you from falling to the center of the Earth. A centrifugal governor (spinning masses that regulate the speed of an engine) and a centrifugal clutch (spinning disk with two masses separated by a spring inside) are examples of this kind of force in action.

One more example: Imagine driving a car along a banked turn. The road exerts a centripetal force on the car, keeping the car moving in a curved path (the “banked” turn). If you neglected to buckle your seat belt and the seats have a fresh coat of Armor-All (making them slippery), then as the car turns along the banked curve, you get “shoved” toward the door. But who pushed you? No one – your body wanted to continue in a straight line but the car keeps moving in your path, turning your body in a curve. The push of your weight on the door is the reactive centrifugal force, and the car pushing on you is the centripetal force.

What about the fictitious (inertial) centrifugal force? Well, if you imagine being inside the car as it is banking with the windows blacked out, you suddenly feel a magical ‘push’ toward the door away from the center of the bend. This “push” is the fictitious force invoked because the car’s motion and acceleration is hidden from you (the observer) in the reference frame moving within the car.

There are more misconceptions – lots more, in fact, including: velocity and speed are the same thing, the seasons are caused by the earth’s distance from the sun, all metals are attracted to magnets, mirrors reverse everything, how light is instantaneous, gasses don’t have mass, sound travels faster in gases than solids, all elements have three phases, and so on.  But life is full of opportunities which are driven by curiosity, and you now have the seven biggest physics myths set straight to get you started on your learning adventure. Are you ready?

Let me know your feedback on this article – thanks!


Have you ever picked up a textbook, filled out a worksheet, or done a science activity and wondered…“What is my child really learning with this?” Parents wonder exactly what bases they should cover for their kids to understand science before they hit the high school or college scene.

Before you can teach your kid science, you’re going to need a basic science understanding yourself. We’ve prepared a science quiz to see where you are and how you’re doing. This is portion of the same quiz we give the kids during our science workshop, so you can test them again after the workshop is over to see how well they’ve pick up the stuff. So take a few minutes and give it your best shot. Good luck.

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Click here for a printer-friendly version including answers.

1. What would happen if you belched in Antarctica? (a) the carbon dioxide in the burp would freeze into a solid (b) the carbon dioxide in the burp would sublimate (c) nothing special (d) the oxygen and carbon dioxide will form will liquefy into carbon trioxide (e) are you serious?

2. When the sun runs out of fuel, what do you think will eventually happen? (a) it will go supernova (b) it will turn into a black hole (c) it will turn into a hard, black diamond the size of the earth (d) it will snuff like a candle

3. When you cap a lit candle in a glass jar, what happens? (a) the flame eventually goes out because fire eats air and the flame runs out of oxygen which is required for combustion (b) nothing special (c) the flame gets brighter and lasts longer (d) an explosion takes place that shatters the jar

4. What does the word LASER stand for? (a) Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (b) Lost Another Scientist Eating Raisins (c) Light And Sound Emitting Raygun (d) Light And Sensory Emitting Reflector (e) ‘LASER’ stands for something?

5. What is the difference between a light bulb and a laser beam? (a) the laser is a focused beam, while the bulb is a scattered beam (b) the laser is a scattered beam and the bulb is a focused beam (c) lasers emit photons and bulbs emit only electrons (d) this is why I dropped out of science (e) they’re both breakable and not allowed anywhere near my kids

6. Which one generates light by electrifying a gas? (a) incandescent bulb (b) neon sign (c) fluorescent bulb (d) car headlight

7. What happens when you scuff across the carpet in socks on a dry day? (a) you can zap your kids (b) you store up an electric charge in your body (c) you store up extra neutrons in your body (d) the same thing that happens to blankets in the dryer

8. What is an atom made up of? (a) photons, electrons, and positrons (b) neutrinos, positrons, and bosons (c) protons, neutrons, and electrons (d) gluons, muons, and gravitons (e) what on earth is a ‘boson’?

9. Which are the three primary colors of light? (a) red (b) blue (c) green (d) yellow (e) pink

10. If you inflate a balloon (don’t tie the end), which direction does the air in the balloon and the balloon itself travel? (a) both the same way (b) in opposite directions (c) nothing happens (d) inside-out

11. What happens if a tank of oxygen leaks and fills an entire room, and you walk in and strike a match? (a) nothing (b) BOOM!!! (c) the match will burn brighter (d) I don’t even want to know

12. When you drop an effervescent tablet into water, what happens? (a) bubbles foam up (b) it belches (c) carbon dioxide gas is released (d) it produces a chemical reaction that can propel a rocket skyward

13. If you blow up a balloon and stick it in the freezer, what happens? (a) it gets bigger (b) it gets smaller (c) nothing (d) it glows

14. Where is the area of higher pressure in a balloon? (a) on the inside (b) on the outside (c) both are the same (d) none of the above

15. When you wire up a circuit and it does not work, you should (a) check for good metal-to-metal connections between wires (b) see if the batteries are in the right way
(c) replace the entire thing (d) reverse the wires powering your electrical component

16. What does it mean when batteries get hot to the touch? (a) they are working well (b) they are about to explode (c) you have a short in your circuit (d) they are about to leak acid everywhere

17. What makes a cell phone vibrate? (a) little green men (b) magnets (c) a tiny, off-center eccentric drive system (d) a tiny gear drive system

18. Does pure water conduct electricity? (a) yes (b) no (c) not sure (d) I can’t believe you’re asking this… exactly what are you teaching my child?

19. Higher pressure does which? (a) pushes (b) pulls (c) decreases temperature (d) causes winds, storms, and airplanes to fly (e) meows

20. What is the phone number for poison control? (a) 1-800-POISON-ME (b) 1-800-222-1222 (c) 911 (d) 0 (e) Wait a second… exactly why do I need to know this?

21. What happens when you put a large chocolate bar in the microwave without a turntable? (a) it melts only in certain spots (b) it freezes (c) you can measure the speed of light (d) the chocolate bar emits radiation

22. Which of the following are examples of light? (a) radio (b) TV remote controls (c) ultrasounds (d) microwaves (e) sunburns

23. The electricity from an electrical outlet is the same kind as (a) lightening (b) the shock you get from scuffing along the carpet (c) the electrons that flows in a circuit (d) the electricity from a battery (e) the light show from wool socks fresh from the dryer

24. What happens when you combine a red beam of light with a green beam of light? (a) you see polka-dots (b) you get yellow light (c) you get cyan light (d) you get that muddy-looking color just like when you mix all the paints together (e) nothing – they stay the same

25. If an apple is the size of the earth, then the atoms inside the apple are the size of: (a) Manhattan (b) a grain of sand (c) the size of the original apple (d) Alaska (e) zooplankton

26. What are the four states of matter? (a) solid, liquid, gas, and plasma (b) earth, wind, fire, and water (c) oxygen, fuel, spark, and heat (d) ice, water, bubbles, and steam

27. Which of the following are seriously dangerous chemicals? (a) dihydrogen monoxide (b) sodium chloride (c) sodium tetraborate (d) sodium bicarbonate (e) all of these (f) none of these

Extra Credit

Basic Scientific Principles

There are 18 scientific principles, ten of which your child needs to understand before they hit college.  The following list of questions address the basic scientific principles your child needs to know, understand, and use before they register for university classes. We’ve tried to make these as fun as possible, so see how you both do… good luck!

  1. Why do airplanes fly?
  2. Why do you get shocked on dry days?
  3. Why does a compass needle flutter near an electrical cord?
  4. Why does my food come out of the microwave with hot and cold spots?
  5. What two colors make yellow light?
  6. Why does soda explode when you shake it?
  7. What happens when you fart in space?
  8. Why does the water come out of the hose faster if you put your thumb over the end?
  9. Why does the ball roll down the hill faster if you start it higher up?
  10. Why do rockets have fins instead of wings?
  11. Why don’t the planets go flying off into space instead of orbiting the sun?
  12. If you scream in outer space, can anyone hear you?
  13. What happens to a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning? Why?
  14. What happens when I stick an inflated balloon in a freezer?


…and What to Do About Them.

iStock_000000219187MediumDid you have a teacher that really had an impact on you? Remember the excitement? Or the thrill you felt when you taught something to someone else and they really got it? First, let me thank you for your commitment to education – a value that is high enough for you that you are stretching for resources to help you reach your goals. In this article, I am going to share with you some of the common mistakes that educators often make.

If you’ve fallen prey to one or more of these, it simply means that no one told you about them yet. Once you know, you can then focus on solutions. Or, perhaps you’ll find that you are already on track, and this may reaffirm that you are headed in the right direction. Are you ready?

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Click here to download the article.


As a hands-on science teacher who some kids think is a bit wild, I’ve found that there are certain very specific keys to teaching science well, and without getting burnt out doing it (especially important for me, because groups regularly hire me to do multi-day science workshops for hundreds of homeschool kids). Actually, these keys just the opposite of how most schools try to teach science.

You’ll learn my 6 keys to getting kids to want to learn science, and for teaching it in a way that takes less time and is more effective (Otherwise known as the 6 mistakes parents make in teaching homeschool science).

Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • How to teach science in a way that really works. Your kids will learn better and it will take you less time to teach it!
  • How you can include academic material in a way that gets kids really excited about learning more.
  • How to take what kids learn from an intellectual level of understanding to an everyday applied level. This way they’ll learn the foundation they really need to be successful in college and especially when they go looking for a job someday.
  • …and more!

Here’s how to access this information:

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Click here to download The Study Guide & Workbook that goes with the Tele-Seminar (includes Answers!)

Click here to download the MP3 file recording of the Tele-Semiar.


Did you ever have a teacher that made a real impact on you? They took a subject you previously thought was dull and boring and somehow made it jump alive? Special teachers can touch our lives in small ways that make big changes later in life by phrasing a topic into just the right words so it really clicks for you, or simply just believing in you when no one else around you did. These types of teachers are pretty amazing when it comes to inspiring children. If you’ve ever wondered how some of them ‘work their magic’, you’re not alone. Most amazing teachers really couldn’t tell you how they do what they do – they just know how to reach kids effectively in a way that really makes an impact.

Aurora will share some of her top secrets with you so you can do the same with your own children. If you set it up right, you will no longer need to push your child to learn, but rather your child will be naturally pulled toward it in a way that lasts long-term. We’ll uncover the ten modes of motivation and the four different types of learning so you can enter your child’s world and meet them at their level, and you will walk away with a game plan for getting the most out of your learning time together.
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We’ve posted the recording here so you can just play it right on your computer.

Download the How to Motivate Your Child MP3 file here.

Don’t forget – we didn’t record this track in a professional studio, so don’t worry if you hear pops, clicks, chimes, or other odd sounds – just focus on the real message and the learning that’s going on.

Get the latest tips and news from Supercharged Science through our Homeschooling Blog! We’ve posted articles about how to homeschool your child so that they get into college, how to supplement your child’s education, how to figure out if your child is really learning, how to make homeschooling fun, and more.

You’ll find new articles here every few days… it’s just one of the ways we stay in touch. If there’s something you’d like us to write about, just drop us a note – we’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to read about!

DariuszSankowski By CC via Pixabay

The homeschool curriculum you follow is essentially a guideline to help you teach your children. Do not make the mistake of following it so rigidly that you lose the advantage of teaching your children at home at the pace that they are comfortable with. Each child is different. Just because your first child enjoyed coloring it does not follow that your second child will also like it as much.
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Change the way you teach to suit each child individually

As the parent you need to adapt the homeschool curriculum to suit the learning patterns of each individual child. Sure you can use the same material and resources, but you will have to tweak it a bit to ensure that each child gains from it in the best possible way. For instance some children are very visual, they need to see pictures and videos to understand a topic. On the other hand other children are more likely to listen and learn if you let them close their eyes and hear your voice.

The homeschool curriculum is not rigid, so don’t make it so

Just because the lessons are given in a certain order in the resource book is no reason to teach them in the same order. It would make much more sense to teach them about things that they know a little bit about and are interested in first. Then you can always follow that up with introducing totally new concepts. Tailor make the class to suit the needs of the child that you are teaching. Who but you would know what suits your child best.

Use unit studies to comprehensively cover a topic

In case your child is interested in a specific topic it would be a good idea to browse the internet and check what free unit resources are available for that topic.  Pick up a unit which includes audio, video and written material. That way no matter how your child processes data there will be some part of the unit that will cater to it. Watching movies, reading lapbooks and even creating your own models are a great and composite way to learn about a specific topic.

Article Inspiration: About Homeschooling