Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here. We have them partitioned into “Recent”, “Mechanical”, “General Advice”, and “Philosophical”.
Which classes would you recommend for a math reluctant student?
All of our courses are geared for the “math reluctant” student. 🙂
Except, let me note that math is about relationships, which is why you’ll see an “equals sign” in every equation. We have found that these relationships can be described just as well, if not better, in English rather than through mathematical notations. This is what you get with a “conceptual” approach, which focuses on the concepts—the main ideas—which are described by examples everyone can relate to.
For example, when a rock is dropped, it accelerates downward. That means it’s picking up speed as it falls. It starts out slow. By the time it hits the ground, it’s moving much faster. The farther it has to fall the more speed it will pick up. Right?
Well, drop a heavy lead ball and a lighter wooden ball of the same size from the same height. You’ll see that they accelerate downward side by side. The lead ball has more weight, which is a greater pull of gravity. So shouldn’t it accelerate faster? The answer is YES! But that lead ball also has more inertia, which means it’s harder to get moving. So because it has more inertia, shouldn’t it accelerate slower? The answer is YES! What you end up with is a scenario whereby the lead’s greater weight (it wants to accelerate fast) is counter-balanced by its greater inertia (it wants to accelerate slower). In fact, necessarily, the greater its weight, the greater its inertia. It’s a wash. That’s why light objects (with little inertia) and heavy objects (with a lot of inertia) always accelerate downward at the same rate, which on Earth is about 10 meters per second per second.
OK, here’s the math: acceleration = weight/mass = WEIGHT/MASS
Note as weight gets bigger, so does the mass (inertia). The ratio of the two is always the same. That’s why all things (neglecting wind resistance) fall at the same rate.
We’re of a “physics first” philosophy. Physics is the foundation. Chemistry is the physics of the atom. Biology is the chemistry of life. This is why we would point your high school student first to our Conceptual Physics course, which would be followed by Conceptual Chemistry. By then, we’re hopeful we’ll have Conceptual Biology ready to go. Currently our biology programs are still under development. But we also have courses in astronomy and physical science (which includes Earth Science).
However, all of our courses, you’ll find, start with physics. There’s even a review of basic physics concepts within Conceptual Chemistry. We suggest you have your student look through the course descriptions as shown here at LearnScience.Academy. The most important thing is that the course matches the interest of the student. Some students, for example, may be really drawn to the astronomy. For such a student, our Conceptual Astronomy course would be a good place to start, though you might also look to the PAC course (physics, astronomy, chemistry). You can think of our course listing like an ice cream store. Let the student pick the flavor. If they are unsure, you may have suggestions yourself. Consider that you too will have the opportunity to learn with your student, which is half the fun. 🙂
The videos are open to the public at Conceptual Academy? Why then should I purchase a course?
Why do you have three websites?
How do I sign up?
Here are the steps to signing up:
- Peruse our course descriptions here at LearnScience.Academy to find the right course for you or your family. Copy the Course ID.
- Head over to ConceptualAcademy.com and click the big blue “Sign Up” button in the upper right corner of every page.
- Enter your registration information and **IMPORTANT** paste the desired course ID into the course ID field.
- You’ll be brought to our PayPal portal, which also accepts major credit cards.
- Don’t forget your chosen username, which may or may not be your email address.
We know you are really going to value and enjoy our well-tested curriculum. Thank you for your support!
What is the difference between LearnScience.Academy and ConceptualAcademy.com?
LearnScience.Academy is a support site designed to walk the homeschooling teacher or student through the rich resources available at ConceptualAcademy.com. LearnScience.Academy also hosts our blog where we offer interesting topics on science education as well as the Conceptual Academy Community Forum, available to Gold, Platinum, and Iridium members.
ConceptualAcademy.com is a comprehensive learning and content management system that houses all the tools you will use as a student enrolled in one of our self-study courses. Conceptual Academy is also used by colleges and universities for their online classes and on-campus classes that feature a student-centered approach.
What are the “Full Version” and “Customized Version” courses?
We offer two types of courses: Full Version and Customized Version. The full version covers the entire table of contents of the textbook from front to back. A customized version follows a syllabus that skips around the table of contents in a particular sequence designed to match specific needs. For example, “Conceptual Astronomy” is a customized version of our Conceptual Physical Science textbook in that it focuses only on chapters germane to astronomy.
Do you accommodate home school cooperatives?
Yes! We are well-equipped to serve a home school cooperative through our “instructor-led” courses. In such a course, the coop teacher contacts us and requests an instructor account. With this request, the teacher should also specify which self-study course they would like to use as a template. We then transform the requested self-study course into a dedicated “instructor-led” course. The teacher then has control over all the parameters of the course including class dates, content, points per quiz question, the grade book, and FYI pages. Within each FYI page, it’s the teacher’s profile image that appears rather than one of us authors. Through this instructor’s account, the coop teacher can also edit the content of each FYI page as desired. This includes uploading documents and embedding external videos. At the end of the course, the teacher can click the “clone” button and a new course will be automatically built for next year’s students.
What are your instructor-led courses?
After making contact with a qualified instructor, we set up an account for that instructor. This may be any instructor at a homeschool cooperative, high school, college, or university. Through this account all of our online resources are collated to the instructor’s course syllabus. Alternatively, the instructor can chose a syllabus from one of our templates, which are, in fact, the self-study courses. With a course ID, the instructor’s students enroll in this customized course where they navigate through our resources by the calendar dates of the semester as determined by the instructor. Reading quizzes give students credit for having read the textbook. Video quizzes provide credit for having watched our video tutorials. We offer other resources, such as worksheets and guidance on the content of each class (also found in the self-study courses). The instructor’s main focus can then be on helping the students to learn that content, which happens through classroom activities, follow-up lectures (typically at the college or university level), office visits, homework assignments, laboratories, exams, and more.
What are your self-study courses?
Our self-study courses have been created by the author’s and are based on the courses they have taught at many different college campuses, including CA State, University of Hawaii, Leeward Community College, Saint Michael’s College, … As experienced professors, they have anticipated questions and concerns about the subject mater, and are able to address these questions through their personalized “FYI” pages found for each class within the course.
Also included are numerous worksheets, chapter summaries, and, most importantly, the unit exams with directions on how to take these exams using the collaborative “pyramid” format. Ideally, the student taking a self-study course has a mentor to help guide and inspire them throughout the course. There are also numerous hands-on activities within the textbook that can serve as the lab experience. To further enrich the student’s experience, we also recommend purchasing one of our lab manuals (also sold separately) or a lab kit (through eScience Labs starting August 2016).
Does Conceptual Academy provide a live instructor to work with my student directly?
No. However, we have been teaching these courses for many years, which means we are able to anticipate questions and concerns your student will have. We address these questions and concerns by guiding the students in our carefully designed FYI pages. Through Conceptual Academy, we authors work to enthuse the student as much as we can in a virtual format as well as support the parents by taking care of the mechanics of the course: the syllabus, quizzes, worksheets, chapter summaries, exams, and so forth. This will allow the student’s mentor to focus on the most important and rewarding aspects of teaching, which is being there to coach your student along—in real time. P.S. Starting summer 2020, provided sufficient demand, we are hoping to begin a “Conceptual Academy Instructor’s Network”. This is a network of adjunct and retired faculty (already familiar with Conceptual Academy) making themselves available for tutoring services and for running actual courses. Please let us know if would be of interest to you.
I need to purchase the textbook separately? How Do I purchase the textbook?
Yes, you need to purchase the textbook separately. The first reason for this is because the selling of the textbook itself is in the domain of our publisher. We authors are not allowed to sell our textbooks. The second reason for this is because our textbooks are easily found online either through our publisher, Pearson Education, or through a third party retailer, such as Amazon. We would encourage you to seriously consider purchasing the eTextbook format. See CourseSmart, now also known as VitalSource. Type in the name of one of our conceptual textbooks, et. voila! Please also consider, that when you buy a used or rented physical copy of one of our textbooks, the amount of your hard earned money that goes to the people who produced that which will be of service to you is $0.00. Instead, all your money goes to people who doing nothing but move the paper upon which our carefully crafted educational content is printed. Only when you purchase an electronic or new copy of that textbook do the authors and the publishers receive any support for their efforts. This is a problem that has been undermining our educational system for many years. For more on this topic, you can read this article on “Why Textbooks are So Expensive.”
How is my student’s progress tracked?
Each course comes with a set of automated reading check and video check quizzes. Primarily, these quizzes help students to be sure that they’re getting the main points from either their reading or video assignments. Secondarily, it allows the student’s mentor to track the student’s progress. Scores on these quizzes at tracked within the student’s grade book. The mentor opens the student’s account and navigates to this grade book, which shows scores for the entire class, as well as within each unit. Through this grade book, however, you cannot mine down to the level of individual quizzes. To do that, go to the quiz itself by navigating through the course syllabus. Each quiz can only be taken once. But once taken, you’re brought straight to the results page.
In terms of problems at the back of each chapter, worksheets, and unit exams, this is where the mentor will spend a fair amount of time making sure the student is making progress. You’ll want to check the student’s answers to the chapter problems against the answers in the back of the book (odd-numbered). You’ll do the same for the worksheets. For the unit exams, you’ll be right there with the student taking the unit exam with him or her (assuming you use the suggested “pyramid” format as described within the FYI pages)
When does a course expire?
Your enrollment fee for a particular course entitles you to a year of access. However, there is no hard cut-off date for any of our courses. So don’t be surprised if the course you bought over 12 months ago is still available. We update our courses regularly with most major updates taking place in the summer months so that the courses are shining their best at the start of a new academic year. Right now all courses will show an 8/21/17 date, which happens to be the date of the upcoming total eclipse. By that time, this date will be shifted to the following August, which is to say, if you purchase in February, the course will still be available to you until the summer after the coming summer, about 18 months later.
Do my kids need separate accounts?
Yes. If students share the same account they will also be sharing the same grade book, which doesn’t work because each quiz can only be taken once. Thus, each student needs his or her own account, which means a separate username, email address, and password.
Why can’t I log in at ConceptualAcademy.com?
You are likely using the wrong username. Please note, your username may NOT be your email address. If you click the “Request New Password” link, then you’ll get a new password, but it won’t work because the password is not the problem. You’re likely using the wrong username, and that may be the problem. You need to use the username you chose, and this might NOT be your email address. Also please note that both the username and password are case and space sensitive.
I’m registered and enrolled in a course, but I don’t see the chapter reading quizzes nor the video quizzes
You’re looking at the public side of the website. You need to be logged into your account upon which you’ll see a big blue “My Profile” button in top right of your browser. Just to the left of the My Profile button you’ll see the “My Courses” link. Click that link and it will bring you to the list of your courses. Click “enter” to enter a course. You’ll be brought to the FYI page of your first class where you’ll see your instructor’s profile image, advice about the content, and documents to download (scroll downward). To the left of the FYI page you’ll see the list of chapter sections you are to study for this class. Click a chapter section and the video tutorials for that chapter section will appear. Please note: There may be several videos for one chapter section—you need to watch ALL these videos to complete the tutorial for that one chapter section. The chapter reading quiz will be at the bottom of the list of chapter sections (your reading assignment) and you’ll find a video quiz button under each video (most videos, actually, not all). Also, for some chapter sections there are no videos and you’ll see a graphic with a “For Your Consideration” question, which, though not for credit, your student should seriously try to answer.
Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?
Short answer: Scroll downward. Long Answer: Any website is intuitive after you know where to look. Thank you for your patience as you become familiar with our layout. You’ll note our aim has been to keep each page as clean as possible and free of any advertisements. That said, we have much to offer, which makes placing our resources on each page a challenge. With user feedback, we expect navigation to improve over time. For now, when in doubt, scroll downward!
Is Conceptual Academy compatible with mobile devices?
This “rich and robust” platform is optimized for desktops and laptops. It will work with smart phones and tablets, but the navigation will be delivered as a regular website. That said, we find about 80% of users work on laptops simply because of the larger screen size, which provides room for the videos as well as quizzes and makes it easier to “see where you are” as you navigate through the course.
I can sign-in, but why can’t I enter the course for which I paid?
For all self-study courses you’ll be automatically enrolled and this should not be an issue. For an instructor-led co-op course, however, there’s a path through which this problem may arise. But it’s not really a problem. Rather, it’s a necessary evil. Here’s the deal: If you enter the correct course ID when you registered, then you are automatically enrolled. No problem. If you don’t enter the course ID when you register, then at a later time you can select your course among the many others. There’s a problem. The instructor can only accommodate students whom they approve—not just anyone from around the world. Thus, upon joining your instructor’s course, you need to wait for your instructor’s approval. You’ll want to send your instructor the following kind words: “Dear instructor, My name is [ ]. I am enrolled in your course, but my status needs to be modified from “pending” to “active”. Within your “course admin” please modify my membership status accordingly at your earliest convenience. Thank you for letting me know when this has happened. I am eager to begin this semester and looking forward to working with you.”
How is a course broken down? Is there a schedule listing what to do each day or each week so that our goal of completion in one school year is met?
We each have our different interests and different talents. Thus, there can be no “one size fits all” especially when it comes to learning. Built in flexibility is key. Also, when it comes to pacing a student, we understand the most important thing is finding that balance between not too much and not too little. As we like to say it: a well-placed challenge. Finding that balance is key. From the start you’ll have a good guess of where that balance is for each particular student. But students grow before our very eyes. You can expect to need to make adjustments along the journey. . . it wouldn’t be a journey otherwise, would it?
OK. Enough waxing poetic. How are your courses structured?? What’s the basic template we have to work with?
Let’s consider the full version of Conceptual Chemistry. You’ll see this curriculum is broken down into six units. Within each unit there are five to seven lessons. Within each lesson there are several chapter sections to be studied.
There are typically 180 days in a school year, which is about 30 school days per unit. With the understanding that there are about 20 school days in a month, each unit should last about 1.5 months, or 6 weeks. Thus, we have about 6 lessons in a unit, which means each “lesson” should take about a week.
Now, each lesson contains 3 or 4 chapter sections. This is a long-winded way of saying: if a student is going over one chapter section per school day, then they are on track for completing this entire course over a single school year. Please note, this is for one of our full version courses, which is relatively ambitious and a good venture for a student who is revved up by science.
That said, some material is more difficult than others. So a “lesson a week” should be taken with a grain of salt. The first six or so chapters of any of our courses dig into the main ideas. They lay the foundation. This is hard but rewarding work. In practice, some of those lessons could easily span two weeks. How fast you go will be your call as well as your student’s, remembering that the main goal is to nurture a joy of learning about this amazing universe. Chapters toward the end of a course tend to be more “topical” in nature where the student applies that which they learned from earlier chapters. Which is to say, you can expect to spend longer on earlier chapters than later chapters.
In summary, expect a slower pace at the start and a quicker pace toward the end. But on average, 1 lesson per week.
Keep in mind that a full version course is only ambitious if you’re aiming to cover the entire book. You can sign up for a full version course and skip around as you see fit. You can also consider one of our “customized” courses. For example, within chemistry we have: Contextual Chemistry, Prep Chemistry, and Life Science Chemistry. . . . all using the same textbook, but presenting selected concepts and topics of chemistry in a different sequence.. . we lay out the “jumping around” for you.
Which course should my student take first?
You can choose between our Physical Science Explorations and Integrated Science Explorations courses. Either of these makes for a good start. Also, because so much material is covered in these textbooks, either one can be extended to a 2 year program. More typical, however, is a single full year. Which “explorations” title you choose should depend upon the interests of your student. Review the Table of Contents within the course description pages to help give you some direction.
For high school students:
We are “physics first” advocates, which means a physics => chemistry => biology sequence. For an average student, we recommend that your student have already gone through one of our explorations titles before undertaking Conceptual Physics in the 9th grade. For an average 9th grader without this background, we highly recommend jumping right into the Physical Science Explorations (CPSE) course, then taking Conceptual Physics in the 10th grade. However, if in taking CPSE your students shows an affinity for chemistry or life sciences, then you should certainly consider skipping Conceptual Physics and jumping right into Conceptual Chemistry. How does that work? Well, because CPSE introduces sufficient physics for the student to slide right into Conceptual Chemistry.
As an alternative, you might consider starting your 9th grade student off with Conceptual Astronomy. This course will also provide a strong physics background sufficient for taking Conceptual Chemistry as a 10th grader.
Please take this advice with a grain of salt. The overriding factor is the interest level of your student. Which course should be taken first? Consider letting your student decide. To varying extents, everyone of our titles begins with physics (even Conceptual Chemistry!). Your student will be enthused no matter which course he or she takes. And that’s what matters most.
How do I prepare for my student taking one of your courses?
Many homeschooling parents are wanting to print out all of the documents held within a Conceptual Academy course. Toward this, however, you can relax. The documents of one of our self study courses are presented to the student exactly when they need to be presented. However, there is one particular type of document that you’ll certainly want to be mindful of. These are the unit exams that appear within the FYI page of the last class of each unit. Another important document is the “Certificate of Completion” that you’ll find in the FYI page of the very last class of the course. When you get there, please print out this document and sign it. It may sound silly, but this kind of recognition of achievement is crucially important after all the great effort that has been put forth by your student. It’s said that one of the greatest gifts that you can ever give is appreciation.
For the student, what does a typical day look like?
What about the lab experience?
There are also commercially available third party lab kits that should be considered, such as those found through Arbor Scientific (best for physics and astronomy) and Flinn Scientifc (best for all other fields). Importantly, we have recently formed an association with eScience Labs who, under our direction, is now offering lab kits to accompany our chemistry courses.
The Conceptual Academy video lessons work well for me. Do I still need the textbook?
Why are your textbooks so expensive? Can I use an earlier edition?
To get more specific, regarding any of our chemistry courses, you’ll need the 4th or 5th edition of Conceptual Chemsitry. The third edition really won’t do as the sequence of topics has since been modified significantly. For Conceptual Physics, the latest 12th edition is the first edition to have section numbers. This is important as the video lessons here at Conceptual Academy are organized by section numbers. In a pinch, the 11th edition will work, but you’ll experience some confusion of what goes where. For Conceptual Physical Science, the 5th edition is particularly important for the changes that were made to the astronomy chapters. The more recent 6th edition has the same structure of the 5th edition with even further updates, again, especially in astronomy. As you may know these days there is a lot changing in our understanding of astronomy as more and more discoveries are being made using space probes and space telescopes.
Your next question might be: “Really, what significant improvements are made from one edition to the next?” Please understand that a textbook is more than a collection of facts and figures. There is a pedagogy that can only be developed through years of classroom feedback. Think of it this way, would you want to use a modern phone or one from the 1950’s? They both do the same thing, right? Of course they don’t. Similarly, might you rather use a textbook from the 1950’s? Of course not. Our understanding of how we humans learn is improving, as is the technology that helps us to create curriculum from which students can learn. The changes from one edition to the next may at times be slight, but over the life of a textbook, these changes really add up. So, we suggest you go for the latest edition you can afford. And thank you for your support!
When will you have Conceptual Biology?
How do I use this website?
Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?
How long does a course take?
Common core? NGSS? C3? How have these standards impacted the development of your curriculum?
The science curriculum hosted at Conceptual Academy is designed for the college student majoring in a field other than science, such as business, theater, language arts, or religious studies. This curriculum also happens to meet the needs of many high-school level home school students who are looking for a strong foundation in the basic concepts of science as 1) a prep for college work, or 2) general science literacy. Because our curriculum is used primarily in higher education, we have not paid much, if any, attention to the various standards that have been set for high schools and lower grades. Of all these standards, however, we are most familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which we find to be an appropriate guide showing science concepts student should be expected to understand at different grade levels. Did we modify our curriculum to match the NGSS or other standards? No. At the college level, professors already have certain expectations of what should and shouldn’t be covered in their science courses, including science courses designed for the non-science major. They are the needs of these professors combined with our own classroom experience and expertise in our respective fields that are the primary drivers of how our curriculum is developed.
Is Conceptual Academy faith-based or secular?
We are secular. We are also focused on the importance of family and community as you will see within both our textbooks and video lessons. Each textbook, for example, starts with our “family photo album” pointing out family members and friends whom we proudly recognize through photos whenever we can. Neither are we shy about featuring family and friends in our video tutorials. We understand the great importance of family and community. It’s through family and community that we achieve our greatest accomplishments, which we believe should include being cooperative and mindful stewards of this beautiful planet upon which we depend.
We respect the many different faiths. We believe these faiths add much depth and wisdom to what it means to be human on this pale blue dot of a planet orbiting our Sun through the vastness of space. We also believe it’s important to focus on what people have in common, which includes the rules of nature. When it comes to the rules of nature, no human is exempt. By focusing on these rules of nature, for what they are and not what we might wish them to be, there lies an opportunity for building much needed common ground and agreement. This can serve as a starting place so that as the world gets smaller, we can find the harmony needed for sustainable living within communities where diversity is valued and honored. It is our understanding that these are the very premises upon which the founders of the United States wrote the U.S. constitution.
About $100 for a science course?
Our passion is to help students enjoy learning the basic concepts of science. For us, the question is: How can we do this in a sustainable manner using the platform of the 21st century, aka, the internet? Answer: Build an awesome website! Err, strike that. What we really need is not a website but a “course management system”. You need to understand there is a huge difference between a relatively easy-to-build website, such as LearnScience.Academy and an actual “course management system” (CMS), such as Conceptual Academy. Consider this, the quizzes you take at Conceptual Academy don’t exist until the moment you click the “Take Quiz” button. Upon your clicking the button, the CMS generates the quiz on the fly based upon who you are, where you are in the program, and when you are. Same for the calling up of the videos or of a particular course syllabus or when you look to your grade book. It’s all generated on the fly. It has to be to make the site versatile and usable for thousands of instructors and students, each with a different need at any given moment. Please consider, aside from monthly fees from our host servers, our web developer charges us $135/hr for the building and maintenance of Conceptual Academy, which took 2 years to build. That’s our math, which came in the form of hefty business loans and an unstoppable faith in the value of what we have to offer. The reality is that your using Conceptual Academy for an entire year allows us to pay for less than 1 hour of development cost. That’s pretty scary, but less scary than having a venture capitalist or our publisher breathing down our necks forcing us to compromise based upon market demands—we take our academic freedom seriously. The support you offer is greatly appreciated as well as greatly needed. We just want you to know we’re working really hard for you behind the scenes. Aside from the development of the content itself, this includes the creation and development of the platform through which this content is presented—on the fly. Furthermore, we hope you can appreciate that our current fees are a small fraction of the tuition you would pay at a typical college for the same course run by an instructor who is not the author of your textbook and likely has less experience to offer than we are able to provide ourselves at Conceptual Academy.