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Noah took astronomy this past semester with Williamsburg Academy, and was inspired about the heavens and everything out there. Now, to back up a bit, Noah was age 12 at the time of the class, and it was a high school level course, so it was an experiment whether he could keep up with the workload and understand the concepts. Especially given that I was a full-time student and didn’t have time to help him much.

But, as a scholar, he had the opportunity to try. In reflecting on the experience, we decided that some things were easy:

  • attending class twice a week (plus live telescope sessions on occasion) – because the teacher was fantastic, thanks to Mr. Rees!
  • taking pictures and sightings of the day and night skies – this was fun and got the whole family more interested in celestial bodies.
  • using the online learning system (Canvas) since Noah had already been a student for several years with Williamsburg Intermediate.

Some things that were more difficult for Noah:

  • Keeping up with the weekly study guides. He found that he needed to read and research for these, and it was a stretch. At times, he felt overwhelmed. I think he may not have turned every one in. Or a few may have been late.
  • Taking weekly mastery assessments and a mid-term and final exam. He had to study the weekly guides to prepare for these. He found that he needed to pray before studying and then take the exam right after reviewing his notes. When he did that, he was most successful. At times, he had to leave an answer blank because he didn’t know it at all. All questions were short answer, no guessing possible.
  • Managing the overall workload was a stretch. There were ongoing projects like tracking solar shift and moon phases, as well as random telescope viewing reports and observation reports. He sometimes asked for me to spend time helping him organize the list of things to do or catching up on assignments.

Overall, I thought the things that were fun and the things that were a challenge both made this a fantastic semester for Noah. He knew that the class would “count” for his admission to college, so he cared about doing well, and caring is everything for Noah. If you’ve got a sweet youth that you’d like to see stretch a bit and do more proactive learning, classes from Williamsburg Academy are perfect, you might give them a try.

Here is a screencast of Noah’s final project in the class, which he did using the Universe Sandbox program to experiment with How to Build a Habitable Planet. (note that screencast doesn’t buffer as nicely as youtube, so it may hang up a bit.)

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* photo credit: aeirmid