Mystery Science offers online science lessons that are super easy to use and have outstanding content. Lessons on specific topics are designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grade with the goal of developing a positive attitude toward science in the formative years that will (hopefully) last a lifetime. Lesson material is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.
Film footage, animations, and other illustrations with voice over instruction do an excellent job of teaching the material. A variety of activities along with discussion and interaction totally engage student interest as they help them think through scientific concepts, learn practical applications, and begin to apply the scientific method.
Mystery Science advertises their product as “open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science,” and that’s exactly what they are. Using a discovery approach with questions that intrigue and attract kids, each video lesson explores a science concept often bringing in real-life applications.
Each topic is presented as a unit, with three to eight lessons (called mysteries) within each unit building upon one another. For example, the Human Machine unit has four mysteries: Why do your biceps bulge?, What do blind people see?, How can some animals see in the dark?, and How does your brain control your body? Another example is the unit on Invisible Forces with these mysteries: How could you win a tug-of-war against an elephant?, What makes bridges so strong?, How can you go faster down a slide?, and What can magnets do?
Instruction is through online videos created by the folks at Mystery Science. Videos are brief or stop frequently for an activity or discussion. Parents or teachers should be able to lead any discussion based upon what they have just watched. It doesn’t appear necessary to watch in advance. However, parents or teachers do need to gather supplies for the activities in advance by first looking at the prep page found under “Get Activity Supplies” for each exploration. This page includes links to worksheets and answer keys to print out as well as the list of any other resources you will need. Activities sometimes require nothing more than paper and pencils. However, they often will use just a few simple resources such as in one activity having to do with rocks and weathering that requires sugar cubes, washable markers, a paper plate, a food storage container, and pencils.
Explorations are designed for class groups with students working in pairs or groups. However, most activities will adapt easily for a parent working with only one or two children.
The majority of the lessons are best for grades two through five with a few, such as Force Olympics (on forces, machines, and engineering) and Weather Watching, designed for kindergarten and first grade. There are 22 units available as of September 2020. Examples of the topics other than those already mentioned are Animal Adventure, Work of Water, Stormy Skies, Power of Flowers, and Energizing Everything. More units are in development.
For kindergarten through fifth grade, Mystery Sciencedefinitely works well as a supplement. At this point, Mystery Science might even have enough units to be a complete curriculum for a year for kindergarten through third grade. The lesson design certainly works well enough for core curricula since it provides teaching, hands-on activity, written work, and oral discussion.
Homeschoolers can try out the first two mysteries in each unit for free. There's also a free trial offer available until June 30, 2021.