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”.
Does the parent need an instructors account?
No separate instructor’s account is needed for the parent. Rather, all the instructor tools are embedded within a student’s course within the Doc Share of the first module. This includes a teacher’s manual, answer keys, and more. We are also proud of our automated planners now available through HomeschoolPlanet.com. All that said, if you are the instructor for a co-op of 4 or more students all enrolled int the same class, then you’ll want to learn more about our “instructor-led” courses.
Which classes would you recommend for a 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, at your option, 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?
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?
Do you accommodate home school cooperatives?
What are your instructor-led courses?
What are your self-study courses?
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?
How is my student’s progress tracked?
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?
Do my kids need separate accounts?
Why can’t I log in at ConceptualAcademy.com?
I’m registered and enrolled in a course, but I don’t see the chapter reading quizzes nor the video quizzes
Why can’t I find what I’m looking for?
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?
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?
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.