Monday, September 9, 2013

REVIEW: EEME Project Genius Light

The Mosaic Reviews team had an opportunity to check out a product that I never imagined existed, but knew it was a perfect fit for one of our kiddos as soon as I heard a bit about it.  

EEME's monthly hands-on project kits teach kids about electronics. Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only guide the kids in assembling the project but also to teach the concepts applied.

EEME is a monthly subscription program that has a couple of options available.  Prices are $18.95 per month for the basic kit, and $29.95 per month for the pro kit.  Subscriptions may be canceled at any time.

The Dad at EEME  has generously offered all new subscribers the opportunity to have their first month FREE for this next week.  

We decided to extend your readers a 1st month free towards an EEME subscription limited time promo - expires 9/16/2013

The promo URL is here -

About Project Genius Light

With the Genius Light project, you will assemble a simple LED circuit system that does the smart thing - lights up when it is dark and dims when it is light.
The project kit will be shipped with all the materials needed to build the Genius Light (a breadboard, resistors, circuits, LEDs, battery).
Once you've gotten your kit, you'll come back to to access our 45 minutes of online videos, which will (1) teach you and your kid how to build the Genius Light, and (2) explain the electrical engineering concepts behind it. (Videos are free to check out.)
Questions? Feel free to get in touch with Jack at!

We set aside a couple of hours to do this project, not knowing really what we were getting ourselves into.  There are no directions in the box, you log in online on the company website to access the free videos (the directions to log in are included in the box).  I chose my 8 year old for this review because he LOVES "projects" and is constantly building and creating with any materials his imagination can spin into something else.
Checking to make sure all parts are accounted for before starting the project.

Once you log in online, the videos show you step by step with extremely clear explanations of what to do.  They start with the "whats" and then go back and teach the "hows" of each part of the project.  The videos for this particular project are broken up into very short pieces.  Most of them were only a minute or two. The steps were short, easy to understand and very clear.
These projects require some detailed work and some excellent fine motor skills.  There are NO tools required, but a parent does have to be involved with the whole process for younger children, and it is encouraged for all students.  The projects are geared towards 7-12 year old students, but I have to admit that I found it fun and fascinating to be able to do this project, so I think that I'd use the age as a guideline for understanding the concepts, but use it rather loosely.  Some younger children would do well with this project (all of mine stood around us and watched!) and surely older ones would too.

As you progress through each step of the project, some of the videos have a few short questions to help ensure that there is understanding of the concepts and the process. As you complete each part, there is a window that opens to give you a congratulatory message. This gives you the chance to continue on to the next step or go back to review what you want to spend a bit more time learning or understanding.  We had to stop a few times and adjust placement of wires to make them look nice for the project maker.
My little project maker was very thoughtful during the process and was able to soon anticipate what was needed and why.  He tends to be very analytical and thought this project was a blast. 

All told, this project took us a bit over an hour, with interruptions.  We REALLY enjoyed this one!  The reward of a working LED light at the end lit up the faces of the little guys watching and got the wheels turning in my project maker as he considered what else he might be able to do (yes, it spurred that critical thinking that EEME seeks to encourage!)  The parts can be a bit tricky to handle since they are so small, but with a parent's help, it is easy enough to get done. The explanations of the terminology and the parts/components were clear enough that even the 4 year old observer picked them up quickly.  The price is a bit daunting to some, but the quality of the videos and instruction and the "all parts included" (YES, even the batteries!) makes it seem very affordable in most budgets if you have a child with an interest in building and creating.

If you have a project builder at your house, this one is AWESOME to jump in and try!  Thank you EEME and Mosaic Reviews for such a great opportunity!  My guy is thrilled to have something to show off to adults now and share what he has learned in school here at home.

You can find the EEME team at:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

REVIEW: Teen Coder Windows and Game Programming

Mosaic Reviews recently offered us the chance to review something a bit different than your standard curriculum.  Homeschool Programming offers both "kid" and "teen" courses in computer programs, games and Android applications.  Reaching into some of the electives, computer programming is a bit of a specialized market and an even more specialized interest.  In our house, the computer minded folks are affectionately dubbed the "geeks".  This program appealed to me for that very group of students in our home. The time of year was tough for us to dig in deeply and use it as a set, structured curriculum and work through it fully.  We were able to do several lessons and skim the rest, checking out what it had to offer.  It left enough of an impression, it will be part of our school program this year (we aren't starting just yet, for family needs).

From the website:
  Our computer programming courses for kids and teens teach students to write programs, games, and Android applications!
No teacher expertise required! All of our award-winning computer science courses for Visual Basic, C#, and Java are self-study.

And boy, oh boy!  Let me tell you, I am thankful for that "no teacher expertise required" bit!  I will explain more in a moment. 

As a reviewer, I received:

A digital copy of both the Windows Programming and Game Programming text books
Online access to all of the videos (optional part of the program)

This is the equivalent to the year pack for $155.00 on the website, with the videos included.

A brief summary of the product from the publisher:
 The TeenCoder C# programming courses are designed for 9th-12th grade students who may be interested in computer science as a career, hobby, or who may need a computer course for high school graduation. Build your school transcript with a high quality technical elective that is easily recognized by college professors.

I will tell you that way back when, in my final months of high school, I took a computer programming course that I still vaguely remember.  "If then, go to" will forever be stamped in my mind.  It left me feeling a bit arrogant about what I knew, I will unashamedly admit.  Computer programming has come a very long way and changed so much that it was like reading a foreign language to me, as I was browsing the terminology and components.  To say that it has been 20+ years and I do somewhat know my way around computers meant absolutely nothing when I opened this program.  I was quickly humbled by my meager, fading knowledge of this ever changing subject.  After a deep breath, and following the steps from the beginning, taking bite size pieces at a time (remember that part about reading instructions? Yeah, trust me!  It helps sometimes, LOL!).  The team at Homeschool Programming knew there would be parents like me.  They broke it all down so very well that I was back on my feet and running in no time. 

The program helped me understand the history and background of programming and how it has changed and evolved.  The lessons explain not only the HOW of various tasks and lessons, but the WHY.  This was huge.  I am a firm believer in understanding.  I like to say that if you can't understand how it works, you probably shouldn't be using it.  I will admit, I haven't applied this mantra to my computer usage.   This program is helping me fix that problem.  What? You thought it was only for the kids? I think parents can easily learn from this too. 

As we worked through the various lessons, I truly, and I mean *TRULY* appreciated having the videos to help me.  If you've read any of my other reviews, you may remember that I am a visually oriented learner, and having a digital copy of the text book challenged me, but the videos helped pull me back together again.

Thoughts and summaries:

  • This program is very thorough to my non expert eye and mind. 
  • The price point is a bit steep to some one's pocket book if you are cheap like I am, but the program is very easily handed to a child with total self direction for the teen program that we reviewed.  That is priceless to many parents.
  •  The depth of the language was above my head and I felt lost until I took it step by step.  The text and the videos make it clear what is being explained and what is expected. 
  • The projects are simple, practical, and fun
  • I was impressed by the lesson plans, the scope and sequence, the tests that and the solutions manual.  They are so straight forward that I don't need to fully understand the concepts to help my student.
  • While the videos are optional, they can be beneficial.  They are animated and not anything fancy, but highlight printed text and activities to help those who learn through different input.
  • The basic graphics and cartoon styling are perfect for the easily distracted in the house.  Simple, yet appropriate.  

All in all?  I have had a crazy summer, interrupted by health issues, garden and farm life and work, but the time I did spend with this program left me wanting more time to use it and absorb it. 

To check it out more, here are the must know details:

Homeschool Programming, Inc
980 Birmingham Rd, Suite 501-128
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Find them on Facebook at:

The website:

To read all of the team reviews of both TeenCoder and KidCoder, visit Mosaic Reviews

Monday, September 2, 2013

So, I took a bit of a medical hiatus....

I am sorry to those who were waiting for more, but I've been battling some physical health problems for a while and when the schedule came up for surgery within a week, all of life shifted towards preparing to have the house and children ready for my down time.  I am on the mend already and getting back into the swing of things quickly.

Coming up, I have a couple of reviews that are a bit different than what I've had in the past, more in my home business "series in the works", and more about life around here.