Thursday, March 15, 2018

Expanding our Knowledge of Math, Art, and Ancient Cultures with NatureGlo's eScience {A TOS Review}

One of the things I really like to do in our homeschool is to show how different things connect to others in our world. Even when the children were younger, I used to try to connect their lessons into types of unit studies because I liked the organization of having things "mesh" together. I still do, so when I learned about the MathArt classes from NatureGlo's eScience, I was intrigued. Gloria Brooks, the founder of NatureGlo's eScience, has put together courses that bring together not just math and art, but science and history as well. And she has been teaching these courses to homeschool children for the past seven years. Though my girls are at the young end of the age range (10 years old and up being the recommended ages), I thought it would be fun to give the MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle a try. 

We were given one year's access to these online classes. 

Included in this bundle are the following courses:
  • Math Connections with the Real World
  • MathArt in Ancient Cultures
  • MathArt in the Arts & Sciences
  • MathArt: Patterns in Nature
I chose to focus on MathArt in Ancient Cultures during our review period.

I thought this would be a great course because we are learning about ancient cultures with our core curriculum. We have been learning about the beginning of the Israelite people along with other cultures which were developing at the time of the stories we are reading in the Bible. So, we have looked at such peoples as the Babylonians, the ancient Egyptians, the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans. As we continue our year, we will be focusing more on ancient Greece and even learning more about Babylon and India. Why did I find this relevant? Well, let me share the titles of the six lessons included in MathArt in Ancient Cultures.
  • Ancient Babylonians and the Plimpton 322
  • Ancient Greek Math & the Platonic Solids
  • Pythagoras & the Music of the Spheres
  • Ancient India's MathArt: Rangoli, Mandalas & the Story of 1-9 & 0
  • Zellige Moroccan Tiles & Other Tessellations 
  • Maya MathArt
As you can see, this MathArt course fits pretty well with what we are learning this year, and it has given us the opportunity to expand our knowledge about specific details in these cultures that we never would have gone into. 

So, what exactly do these online courses consist of?

Well, each of these lessons is taught in a live, online class which is also recorded to be viewed by those who can not attend the live class. As these classes have already taken place, we have been watching the recorded version. Each lesson is broken into several parts, which you mark as completed as you go. 

Let's take a look at a lesson.

In the screenshots above, you can see what part of the lesson looks like. At the top right of the screen it shows the progress we have made, and under that you can see the names of the lessons in the course. I expanded the one we were working on, and the lesson sections we had already completed are crossed out. Directions are given at the top of the screen on the left, with everything that was needed for this part of the lesson below it. Then, when we completed the section of the lesson, I clicked the "Mark Complete" button which turned it to "Mark Incomplete" and automatically moved us to the next lesson shown at the very bottom of the screenshot. 

The main lesson videos that we watch are the recordings of the live class where Ms. Brooks is going through the slideshow or interactive screens with other students who join her on their own computers via webcam. We can hear them talking as they read from the slides, answer questions, and discuss the information. They also have the ability to "draw" on the screen when the teacher asks them to highlight specific points.

We are provided downloads of the slideshows of each lesson, plus the study guides to fill out as they are worked through. It took a few lessons to get into a groove, knowing the best way to follow along. We have found that it is best if I have the slideshow up in another tab, available to access when needed, and the children have their study guides in hand while we watch the recorded lesson. As Ms. Brooks and the students read passages from the slideshow, we follow along. Then, as it has been quite difficult to follow some of the students while they read aloud, I pause the recording and read the same information from our slideshow, making sure the girls find the answers to the study guide questions. I then type out their answers in my word processing program (using it like a chalkboard) for them to copy from.

These slideshows have delved into different aspects of math and the history behind them. 

We learned about the Plimpton 322 Babylonian Clay Tablet which was found in Iraq. The slideshow taught us more details of who found it and what it contained, introducing us to the Base 60 Numeral System. 

We learned about Platonic Solids, such as the tetrahedron, the hexahedron, and the octahedron, discovering the make up of each and being able to see samples. We learned about Duality by Truncation, which I honestly had never heard of.

We learned a bit about Pythagoras's life and then moved onto the Pythagorean Theorem, before looking at Pythagoras in relation to music.

Next we will be learning about the Ancient Indian tradition of Rangoli, which we know as Alpana (from a book we've read in the past). We will also be delving into the mandala, looking at its shape, meaning, and religious tradition.

After that we will look at Islamic Art with Zellige Tiling and Girih Tiles.

We will conclude our study of MathArt in Ancient Cultures with a look at Mayan MathArt. This lesson will teach us about geometry in everyday life such as geometric architecture, Maya calendars, the Base 20 number system, and geometric patterns in art and clothing. 

In addition to watching the recordings of the live classes, and working on the study guides, we are able to use the interactive portions ourselves. This has been the children's favorite part of the class. For example, they have really enjoyed clicking through the dots on the Ancient Greece interactive map, leading them into more detailed information, and even more clickable images for even more information. 

All of the dots above led to screens like the one below:

And each of the names of the gods/goddesses were able to be clicked on, which led to another screen:

Each of the words highlighted in red are able to be clicked on, as are some images. Amelia found it amazing that she could be learning about Ancient Greece, but then find herself reading about sites in Ancient Egypt, like the Great Pyramid at Giza.

And this section of the lesson was just an introduction to Ancient Greece, which was the history portion of the lesson.

There have also been interactive activities where we have delved into polygons and the Pythagorean Theorem. 

Interactive Polygon Activity

With this activity we were to read the information and when we answered correctly, the next section was shown right below it. We were enjoying looking at angles in polygons, until it started to go over our heads (yes, even mine). Fortunately we weren't required to complete the entire activity.

Interactive Pythagorean Theorem Activity

In addition to the slideshows, recorded lessons, and online interactive activities there were also other videos to watch which were connected to each lesson. There are different types of cross-curricular videos, such as music, history, biography, and literature. 

The Epic of Gilgamesh in Sumerian

Plato- Biography of a Great Thinker

Mini Biography: Pythagoras

Plato's Allegory of a Cave

There are also numerous extra videos to watch in the "Going Beyond" section of some of the lessons. Plus there are web resources and projects to complete. We were able to learn how to write Babylonian cuneiform numbers and build Platonic solids. The projects for the Pythagorean Theorem were a bit about the children's level though.

Here are the girls working on their Platonic Solids

MathArt in Ancient Cultures from NatureGlo's eScience is a wonderful course with lots of cross-curricular information. I have been quite intrigued by all I am learning. It does appear, from our experience, to be better suited for older students. Tabitha just turned 11, and though she is more interested than her 9 1/2 year old sister, it is still a struggle to get even her to sit down to complete the lessons.

Each lesson is meant to be completed in one week, making this a six-week course. However, we have been taking about two weeks for each lesson. The study guides do have quite a bit of writing, which the children would prefer to break up into a few sessions. And with the extra videos to watch, plus the projects, it does take a bit of time.

I am curious how the girls would do during a live class and whether or not they could keep up. Part of me feels if they were interacting with the teacher, they might be more engaged. However, they would have to complete the study guide at a different time (either before or after) as they wouldn't be able to keep up. We pause the videos regularly in order to give them more time.

I am looking forward to working through one of the other courses with the children. I started the MathArt: Patterns in Nature course by myself, and think the children would enjoy it quite a bit, as they are big fans of nature. It starts out by looking at circles, with a short discussion of pi. We will also be looking at orbits, with another fun interactive activity which lets us play with a circle, an ellipse, a parabola, and a hyperbola. We also get to watch a video of a puffer fish making a design in the sand, plus look at hidden math in Van Gogh's Starry Night. Having studied Van Gogh a couple of years ago, and making our own Starry Night pictures, I can definitely see the children being interested in this lesson. And I love finding patterns in nature, especially because it shows how precise God's creation really is.

Anyhow, I would definitely recommend these courses, though some of the courses may be better suited for slightly older children, middle school age at least. You and your children will be able to see some wonderful connections between math, art, and science throughout history, in everyday life, and in nature. While we were given access to the 4-class bundle, each of the courses is available individually.

You can find NatureGlo's eScience on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about the the MathArt courses from NatureGlo's eScience.

MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle {NatureGlo's eScience Reviews}

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