Outschool is an education platform that connects teachers of any subject with students around the world for a variety of engaging small-group classes online. It gives kids the opportunity to explore their interests via interactive, live video by experienced, independent educators.
How Many Courses Does Outschool Offers?
Outschool offers variety of classes and over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years. You can use it as full academic classes or supplements. You can also have your kids choose their favorites and dive into their interests. Below is the vast list of subjects your kids might be show interest in. The content appeals to all different types of learners and there are countless subjects. To name a few: life skills (like Future Chef’s Baking Club), social studies (like indigenous studies taught by members of First Nations), organization (like Conquering the Clutter), the arts (like Dance with Me and crochet), Study Skills to get ready for high school and college, and a First Grade Sight Word Bootcamp taught with fun and games.
What Type of Courses Does Outschool Offers?
Arts – Drawing, photography, dance, Theatre, Film, Sewing
Coding & Tech – Coding, Video Game Design, Robotics, Engineering, Internet Safety, Animation
English – Creative Writing, Grammar, Spelling, Book Club, Essay Writing, Poetry, Literature
I personally know several friends that teach classes on Outschool. Many are homeschoolers, and many are classes that my own children have taken and loved. In general, you can find varied teachers with different personalities and backgrounds. You can choose a teacher that fits best with your teaching preference and style. Some of the teachers are retired teachers and others are passionate parents who are passionate about a subject and are really good at teaching.
I’ve been really happy with every teacher we have used. They have kept my kids engaged and wanting to learn more about what is being taught. Most teachers offer a demo class for $20 or even less ranging between $10-15. You can use multiple trial and error demo classes to choose the best teacher that suits your requirements. When looking for a class, I would really recommend reading all the reviews about the teacher. Parents are pretty honest, and kids are pretty vocal when they’re not happy with a class.
Most of the teachers love teaching and are exceptionally good with kids.
Outschool offers small size classes and recommended class size to teachers as below:
For kids ages 6 and below – class size should be up to six learners in one class.
And for kids ages between 6-12 – maximum of 9 kids at a time is a pretty good class size.
Finally, Kids ages 12 and above – up to 12 learners are recommended.
The flexible schedule classes are capable of teaching 18 students at a time.
How Much is Outschool Classes?
Students can sign up for classes at a variety of costs. Most one-time courses go for around $10.00 to $15.00 per student, depending on the length and content. Students can also sign up for ongoing and semester courses, which are priced comparably to one-time courses. One-on-one classes and tutoring go for between $15.00 and $130.00 per session. Teachers’ charges vary as per subject, age range, content, and time.
What are the potential drawbacks of Outschool?
Here are some reasons that Outschool might not be a good fit for your family:
Teachers: Some of the teachers are individual contractors which can make the classes hit or miss. There’s no guarantee that the teacher is going to be a good fit for your child.
Special Needs: If your child has special needs, it is up to the teacher to decide if they will accommodate your child in their class. This is very inconvenient since some kids have different learning abilities at different levels. However, you can always reach out to the teacher before registering to address this issue to see if it’s a good fit.
Payment: Payment is required upfront. If you encounter a problem and want a refund, you need to make a strong case to get one approved.
Technical Problems: Technology isn’t perfect and if you I have tech issues, you may miss a live class. Fortunately, many live classes are available after, so your child can catch up if they miss. The best way to avoid this is to test out your equipment before class begins to make sure everything is working properly. They’ve made this system pretty streamlined.
Is Outschool Right For You?
Outschool is a good resource and opportunity for learning something you may not want to teach and outsource or learn more about a special interest topic. It’s also a great way to learn something new from somebody other than mom.
Personally, we have had a great experience and loved all the classes at Outschool. My kids have enjoyed both the group classes as well as one-on-one classes. They both prefer live classes but have also enjoyed pre-recorded classes because they can do them at their own pace.
Outschool has been a great time-saver tool and has allowed me time to work one on one with my children while my other child is in a class. There are also several classes my kids have done together.
I recommend that you try a class before you choose an 8-week program. Read all the reviews and sign up for a one-time class and see if the teacher seems engaging and is a fit for your family.
Download your FREE Science Bundle to learn about Cells
Years ago, we did this project to kick off our “Not Back to School” week. My kids are teenagers now but still remember the Jello Cell Activity!
Cells are the basic unit of all life. All living organisms, including plants, are composed of trillions of cells, each containing its own set of organelles responsible for a host of functions that ultimately enable the larger organism to function. Create an edible cell model with your children to help them understand the structure of cells in a fun and hands-on way!
Small strips of paper
Glass square container
Sugar-coated gummy worms
Smooth gummy worms
*Use any variation of candy to represent if you can’t locate an ingredient. Get creative!
BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.
Spark your children’s curiosity and imagination by creating an environment with hands-on exploration in your homeschool.
The acronym STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We’ve actually been learning all of these subjects since our students were babies so what is so special about STEM? Traditionally, STEM takes the 4 pillars (science, technology, engineering, and math) and combines them into an interdisciplinary approach of curiosity and inquiry and hands-on, problem and project-based learning.
When you begin formal education in your homeschool, you may approach each of these subjects individually-we often did math daily at a certain time, science, a couple days a week, etc. With STEM you have an opportunity to combine these subjects and integrate them in a way that makes these skills more useful in everyday life. This integration of STEM subjects can result in kids that are able to think differently by harnessing a powerful combination of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and drive to improve and excel.
By incorporating STEM into our homeschool, we teach our kids to approach problems using scientific methods and we help them to learn analytical and information gathering skills. These valuable skills can be applied to all kinds of subjects and life situations.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Earth Science Kit – Over 15 Science Experiments & STEM Activities for Kids, Crystal Growing, Erupting Volcanos, 2 Dig Kits & 10 Genuine Specimens, a Great STEM Science Kit:
STEM is hands-on which makes it interesting and fun and it can inspire students to be more innovative and creative and to want to invent or build things. STEM helps students develop critical thinking skills to solve real world problems, and inspires them to become lifelong learners, which we talk about being our ultimate homeschooling goal here all the time.
Incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills in your homeschool can also help kids become more competent, innovative, and independent. It also makes them more adaptable to technology as it improves and changes. This is especially vital when it comes to future employment opportunities in a world that is constantly evolving. It also makes them perfectly capable when it’s time to make a repair on a household appliance.
LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 was a favorite with my kids. It really helped them learn how to program and ignited a love for STEM.
It comes with a Smarthub, motors, sensors, software. Everything you need to program the Legos you build!
Between 2017 and 2027, the number of STEM jobs will grow 13 percent, compared to 9 percent for non-STEM jobs.
The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs is $38.85, compared to the median earnings for all other types of jobs in the US, which is $19.30.
Out of 100 STEM occupations, 93% of them had wages above the national average.
Millions of STEM jobs go unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates.
As homeschoolers, we have this unique opportunity where we can choose to focus our energies on building critical thinkers and preparing our kids for amazing opportunities and fulfilling careers down the line, as well as creating creative and innovative global citizens. Our children really are the future.
How do I ignite a love and wonder for STEM in our homeschool? (6:02)
Like with many things homeschool- you don’t have to be an expert in these subjects in order to teach them. I encourage you to learn right alongside your children. It’s important to remember that your kids are watching you all the time. You are modeling behavior for them. Do you show a curiosity to try to find the answer and problem solve? What do you do when you notice something like a door handle in your house loose? Are you proactive and go get a screwdriver and try to figure out what is wrong and fix it? This is the kind of skill that you want your children to possess. Teach them to work through things and work with them Problem-solving. This kind of education goes well beyond a worksheet.
Extreme Geyser Tube – Science Kit for Kids – Mentos & Soda Lab Experiment: You can get a geyser over 20 FEET TALL:
You can find all kinds of opportunities for outsourced classes, science museum workshops, scripted curriculum, extracurricular clubs like scouts, engineering and robotics groups, and other activities. Also, consider other things you are already doing every day that build STEM skills, such as building and creating things with Legos or blocks, utilizing a budget, using iPads/phones/computers and other technology, playing video games and virtual programming, visiting local science museums, fairs, and shows, participating on a robotics team, competing in a Future City competition, etc.
Here some ways to incorporate STEM into your homeschool:
Reading. Read aloud to your children and teach them to appreciate good literature. I know we talk about this in every episode, but this is just too important not to mention.
Model a love of learning by reading yourself. We should always be willing to expand our horizons and keep learning- this is a great and important way to be constantly learning and illustrate to your children this importance.
Explore in nature, have a pet or ecosystem- we love things like ant farms, butterfly habitats, reptiles and fish are great ways to learn.
Grow Things- have a garden or small plants, grow insects to feed those reptiles.
Experiment- get a generic experiment book, keep science kit supplies on hand- things like magnifying glasses and guidebooks are handy (we will get into specific experiments a little later in this episode)
Collect things-keep a collection of things that interest you- nature items like rocks, bones, teeth or maybe toys like Legos or Transformers.
Visit Places- explore museums and nature centers (our kids enjoyed homeschool classes at the Heard nature museum) and historical sites. We had our adventure kids club, magic school bus science club and did group trips to places. Do field trips to warehouses, labs, and factories. Learn how things are made (How It’s Made was one of our favorite shows when my kids were little!)
Building, construction, and engineering. Have building toys available for free play- a great set of blocks (we loved Kapla planks), Legos, some tool, magnets, trains are wonderful inspiration.
We loved Lego Wedo (combined programming with physics) and also recommend real tools and woodworking or other building methods. When my kids were a little older, they learned to solder, but when they were a little too young for that and after snap circuits, they loved breadboards, which is kind of a step before soldering.
Reference materials and resources- keep a shelf of books that kids can page through or look things up in.
What are our favorite experiments for early elementary age students? (11:10)
Hands-on experiments are one of the greatest ways for kids to learn in a fun and exciting manner. And let’s face it, the best experiments are the ones that are going to be big, loud, and messy! There’s also a lot of great experiments you can do in your kitchen. If you don’t want to destroy your house, you can do this in your driveway or park. Rest assured that if you don’t want to undertake this yourself, there are always cool opportunities out there in your community. Maybe you have a science, friend or you could find a science camp. There’s also a lot of great videos you can find free on YouTube or TikTok. We will link some of our favorites.
Thinking Reeds provides a comprehensive math and science program for homeschoolers in Dallas, TX:
We just got out a couple old experiment books that I bought and never used with my older kids that I agonized over having skipped only to find out she’d done most of these through years of elementary science classes at Dr. Reids!
Here’s 18 ideas for activities or experiments for kids:
Disassembling toys. We also took apart electronics and more. We picked up old items at garage sales or off the side of the road drain vault, trash, day. It is really a great way to let kids take things apart. We learned so much and we didn’t even have to buy a curriculum!
Dry ice– There are so many things you can do with dry ice and you can often buy this at the grocery store. Of course, you will want to take precautions and wear gloves. You can blow up a balloon, make a bubbly volcano, magically put out a candle, or even set a piece on a metal spoon, and it magically makes a musical instrument. So many more!
Rockets– we were part of Dallas Area Rocket Society for years, even when the kids were very young. But you can build or buy stomp air rockets or build your own kits of rockets with electric motors or chemical launching technology and launch them. Some cities have restrictions on where you can watch these rockets so you may want to check to see if your city has any restrictions. One of our favorite books that is out of PRINT inspired our love for rockets – The Magic Rocket that magically grows and saves a boy’s dog who is abducted by aliens.
Volcanos– we talked about volcano birthday parties. Who doesn’t love simple baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring explosions? We would do this in a cup, but also we had a really cool volcano kit – we even made a papier-mâché volcano once.
Cornstarch and water – this is one of my kids favorite things to do- You can also teach them how to thicken gravy while you are at it. non-Newtonian fluids! This was absolutely one of our favorites. I need to post the video of when we took it one step beyond. I went to the thrift store and bought a cheap stereo speaker. I hooked it up to our stereo and put the cornstarch mixture on top of the speaker and turned up the bass. You won’t believe it, but the sonic waves actually picked up the cornstarch and danced. It was incredible. My kids say this is one of their favorite things that we did and Homeschool when they were younger.
Toothpick bridges are a fun physics project to test the strength or various structure. You can also build other structures and test strength of different triangular formations. This is when the kids were a little older, but it was a really cool experiment where they created a cage of toothpicks that surrounded an egg and then they did an egg drop to see if it broke or not. This is more for older students, but it was still a fun project.
How do you create young critical thinkers? (25:19)
First let’s talk a little about logical and critical thinking. Logical thinking and critical thinking are very similar. Logical thinking can be defined as the act of analyzing a situation and then forming a reasonable or sensible solution or conclusion. Critical thinking tends to be a little more subjective. Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate information while also being aware of biases and assumptions. Critical thinkers should be more open-minded, be able to consider different perspectives and point to view. They should be skeptical.
Probably all of us have similar goals in that our children should be able to think and act independently and reasoning skills are a big part of that. We want our kids to make good decisions, pick great friends, do their schoolwork, and make good decisions as a whole. All of these require great logic and critical thinking skills. The more we practice the skills the more they become natural.
Including thinking skills in everyday homeschooling is great to do. These specific tasks can elevate kids from just memorizing or remembering something to working with information by applying, analyzing, and coming up with creative solutions. Some people think that critical thinking skills are only applicable to subjects like science and math, but really these skills are vital for success in all subject areas, and also everyday life as well.
I can’t stress enough how essential it is that children have hands-on opportunities for this to happen. So many times, I’ve had people ask me why my daughter likes to take apart the engine of her car and put it back together or how my 10-year-old 3-D printed a chassis, built and programmed a combat robot to battle with grown men. I can assure you, the idea of creating and building something started when they were toddlers.
Children are going to remember and apply what they learn when their natural curiosity is ignited. I urge you to get up and share these moments and learning opportunities with your children. They are not always convenient. We are often busy with cooking dinner, having a conversation with our partner, or just plain tired. Learning does not stop when we close the schoolbooks. Young elementary age is the perfect time to run with these moments. Kids are not always going to be so forthcoming with their curiosity when they are older so foster it and cherish it because they do grow up and these moments and how you respond to their curious questions will stay with them.
Don’t just tell them to go do a project. Be there with them, hands on working through problems with them. They have to see you in this mindset. And honestly, as a single mom, some of this was financial restriction. For example, when my son was nine years old, he asked for a ramp for his skateboard. I couldn’t afford a ramp at the store. So, I got up, we went into the garage and found some scrap wood and we started to design one together. And it was messy, and we made some mistakes but every time that happened, my son learned how to do it better. When you show an interest in something like this, your children will, too, even at a young age.
Critical thinking encourages students to connect the dots between concepts, solve problems, think creatively, and apply knowledge in new ways.
Brainstorm Brainstorming is a great critical-thinking exercise, especially when paired with visual elements. Get a big board and ask kids to help you make a list or ideas for a topic.
Search out or host some group activities. Group projects and discussions are a great way to encourage critical thinking. Cooperative learning not only exposes students to the thought processes of others, but it exposes other viewpoints and expands their thinking and worldview by demonstrating that there may be multiple ways to approach a problem. You can do this through things like book clubs, engineering groups, board game days, video gaming, etc.
Incorporating different points of view. Some critical thinking exercises involve exploring a concept from multiple perspectives. This tactic establishes that an idea should be assessed from different points of view before an opinion is formed and it also gives students a chance to share their own viewpoints while acknowledging others.
Ask questions and encourage question asking. Asking questions, especially open-ended/non yes no questions, gives kids a chance to learn and apply what they’ve previously learned. It also gives them an opportunity to problem-solve.
Encourage decision-making. Allowing your kids to make their own decisions enables students to apply what they’ve learned to different situations, weigh the pros and cons of a variety of solutions, then decide which ideas work best before deciding which way to go with an idea or solution.
Encourage Connecting different ideas Connecting different ideas is key to teaching critical thinking. Asking questions that help children consider different situations and potential solutions can help them apply prior knowledge to new contexts.
Inspire creativity. Imagination is key to so much. We should encourage our kids to seek out new ways for them to use information to create new ideas. They can also invent things, do art projects, build, write a story or poem, create a game, etc. there are so many ways to do this.
Hopefully we’ve given you some great tips and ideas to ignite a love and wonder for STEM and spark your children’s curiosity and creativity by creating an environment with hands-on exploration in your homeschool.
This is a fun experiment for all ages. We first did it when my kids were 3 & 6 years old! We love science and STEM activities and this was one of our favorite science experiments. We loved how the cornstarch mixture became a solid and a liquid at the same time. This classic oobleck science experiment is always a hit for kids, and makes the perfect quick science experiment!
What does non-Newtonian mean?
All fluids have a property known as viscosity that describes how the fluid flows – commonly thought of as how thick or thin a fluid is. For instance, honey is much more viscous than water. When a fluid’s viscosity is constant, it is referred to as a Newtonian fluid. Oobleck is an example of a fluid whose viscosity is not constant; it’s viscosity changes depending on the stress or forces applied to it. If you poke it with your finger and apply a large force, it becomes very viscous and stays in place. If you gently pour it, applying little force, it will flow like water. This kind of fluid is called a dilatant material or a shear thickening fluid. It becomes more viscous when agitated or compressed.
Another non-Newtonian liquid is ketchup. Ketchup behaves in the opposite way from Oobleck. You could even call it the “anti-Oobleck.” It becomes less viscous when agitated. Liquids like this are called shear thinning liquids. If you leave a bottle of Ketchup on a shelf, it becomes thicker or more viscous.
You’ll love how much fun it is to do with kids, and kids will love how messy it is. Since the experiment is messy, it’s best to do it outside, or use a drop cloth like we did.
Science is a logical system for exploring our world. Each science experiment should include:
Question: Kids should start every science experiment with a question, even if that question is just “what will happen?”
Experiment: This is where the fun part comes into play. Test the hypothesis to determine if it answers the question fully.
Recording and Analysis: As the test is completed, record what happened. Why did that happen?
Retest: Try different variables and try a new test to see if the original answer is confirmed or disproved. Every variable should be tested more than once.
Cornstarch Experiment Explanation
Cornstarch and water mixed acts both like a solid and a liquid. Cornstarch and water is a suspension mixture with a solid dispersed into a liquid. When you press the mixture quickly, the starch molecules close together.
This causes the water to get trapped between the starch chains and create a semi-rigid structure. When you press slowly, this starch chain “block” doesn’t happen and the mixture flows like a liquid.
Because the viscosity of the mixture changes with force rather than heat, the cornstarch mixture is known as a non-Newtonian fluid. Slime is another fun non-Newtonian fluid. Another favorite!
Check out all out other STEM tips and fun HERE. It includes a podcast episode to inspire young critical thinkers too:
BTDT HOMESCHOOL PODCAST
New episode every Thursday!
BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.
How to Make Your Non-Newtonian Fluid with Cornstarch
Mix the corn starch and the water together at a ratio of about 10 parts starch to 1 part water.
Start the mixture by adding about ½ of a cup of cornstarch to about 1 cup of water.
Play with the mixture until it reaches the consistency that you want. You’re aiming for a texture that is runny when relaxed, but still firm enough to seize up when they hit the mixture.
Watch Our Video Experiment
The corn starch mixture (oobleck) will be moved about as the speaker vibrates. Some parts of the speaker will vibrate much less than others (may even be stationary) and the particles which land there will stay there, once they have landed. So you get a build up of particles in the so-called nodes (where there is node displacement) and very few particles in the antinodes because they are constantly being kicked into motion. So, you can see the pattern of the standing waves on the speaker. It’s a bit like the effect on a windy day, when leaves and rubbish find themselves in sheltered spots and are constantly being removed from the middle of the road, where the wind is strongest. A ‘good’ loudspeaker unit should not have resonances and should, ideally, move backwards and forwards like an ideal piston – that’s why they are made with a conical shape which gives them strength even though they are very light.
In addition to being a non-Newtonian fluid, Oobleck can be called a heterogeneous mixture. Usually one of two things happen when you mix a solid and a liquid: the solid either dissolves or it separates from the liquid. You have seen this before. For example, if you mix salt with water the salt disappears—it completely dissolves such that the water and salt can no longer be separated. Such a mixture is called a homogeneous mixture, or solution. In contrast, heterogeneous mixtures are not uniform in composition. If you mix particles larger than 1μm, such as sand with water the sand does not dissolve. After you stop mixing the sand eventually settles to the bottom of the container—it separates from the liquid. A heterogeneous mixture with suspended particles large enough to settle down to the bottom of the container upon standing (usually >1μm) is called a suspension. In the cornstarch-water mixture individual tiny particles of cornstarch are suspended throughout the water. The cornstarch pieces are very tiny, with an average size of 1500 nanometers in diameter. (A nanometer is very small — a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide!) In Oobleck, the cornstarch pieces are evenly spread throughout the water. These particles are so small that you cannot see them with the naked eye. Suspensions with dispersed particles smaller than 1μm are called a colloid, which means that the particles are so small that they cannot be separated from the mixture anymore. They won’t settle upon standing and can’t be filtered out. Although a colloid looks like the liquid is all one thing, you can see under a microscope that it is actually a mixture of particles suspended in a liquid.
Having the right particle size is important for making a colloid. If smaller particles are used, they will dissolve in the water and not be visible, even with a microscope. For example, think of how sugar dissolves in water, making a homogenous solution. On the other hand, if larger particles are used, such as grains of sand, they will not dissolve in the water. Instead, they separate from the water, and are so large that they form a heterogeneous mixture of particles that can be seen with the naked eye. Some particles are just the right size to make a colloid with water. Depending on the particle size of the cornstarch you used in your experiment, you either made a colloid or a suspension. You can easily find out by letting your cornstarch-water mixture sit for some time. If the cornstarch separates from the water, the cornstarch particles are large enough to settle down, which means you made a cornstarch-water suspension. If you do not see any separation at all, you have made yourself a colloid!