Friday, January 13, 2012

Learn Our History: Time Cycle Academy TOS Review

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Learn Our History: Time Cycle Academy

100 Mill Plain Road Danbury, CT 06811
1 877 US HISTORY

Learn Our History is a relatively new company, begun last year, by Co Founder Mike Huckabee, with a mission to help young people become excited about and learn American history in a fun and unique manner.They desire to help young people learn about America's great accomplishments and be proud of their country. To accomplish that goal they have developed a series of fact based, non biased videos highlighting important events and great people in American History.

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Learn Our History:Time Cycle Academy is a series of DVD videos teaching American History. The Time Cycle Academy participants are a group of 5 school students who have created a time machine out of bicycles and use it to visit locations and events in America's history. While visiting the past the students don't just observe the events, but interact with the participants as well.Pictures and bio's of each of the time traveling students can be found at Meet the Time Travelers.

We had the opportunity to review a DVD, The Birth of a Revolution, and a streaming video, 9/11 and The War on Terror, from Learn Our History. Each of these episodes begins with the students in a history class and the teacher introduces the topic and gives the students an assignment. The teacher doesn't give the class much information about the topic, but mentions several key points they should be on the look out for and tells them to do research and see what they find about the topic. The students then get to work by discussing their topic, putting their limited information and destination into their hand held computer, and  getting on their time cycles. The time cycles whisk them away to the location and times where the relevant events occurred. Throughout the video a bar at the bottom of the screen shows the location of the event on the globe (as part of the Time Cycle Academy logo) as well as writing out the location and date.

Videos in the Time Cycle Academy series feature highlights in America History from Columbus to September 11th. Events highlighted include Columbus, Origins of World War II, and Ronald Reagen in addition to the two I previewed currently available. Upcoming topics include Lewis and Clark, winning WWII, The Space Race, The Cold War, American Women, World War I and two additional volumes about the late 1770's. The last two, along with The Birth of a Revolution, comprise a trilogy chronicling the beginning of the US. These are scheduled to be released throughout 2012. Pictures of all the video covers are at Learn Our History.

As of this time, Learn Our History:Time Cycle Academy DVD's has an introductory special. Columbus is available for $9.95 and The Birth of a Revolution is free with shipping and handling. This offer can be found at Learn Our History.  
Another offer on the site is for the Columbus video for $9.95 plus shipping and 4 free gifts. This offer can be found at the sign up page at Learn Our History.
It appears new DVD's are available on a subscription type basis for $11.95 plus shipping and handling. New DVD's are scheduled to come out once a month. Customers are notified before the DVD is sent and given the opportunity to decline purchasing that particular episode.This also includes free streaming access which allows on line viewing at the Learn Our History site.

The mailer in which I received the DVD includes background information and  facts about the time featured in the video.  It also mentions additional games, study guides, and discussion topics are available at the website, but I was not able to find them. These may be available only to subscribers.

My Thoughts

We really liked this DVD and online episode. They are paced in a manner to share important details, yet the move along to keep the viewers interest. We enjoyed The Birth of a Revolution and were frustrated it left us hanging for the next video in the series which isn't even available yet.

I appreciate how the authors of these movies stick pretty much to the facts of the situation and don't get into much interpretation. Interpretation is easy to find in many publications, both print and media, but simple unbiased facts are harder to find and written in a way for children to understand. The treatment of Sept 11 and the people behind the attacks is factual and fair.The Sept 11 episode did a nice job of relating the events to a local community and family. After the events of that day our country came together to serve and help others as well as support our Armed Forces. These is highlighted in both the introduction and conclusion of this episode. I was impressed with how the feelings of many at that time as well as around the tenth anniversary were included.

The student time travelers are of varied ethnic backgrounds as you would find in many areas. There is also a range of personalities presented by each of the characters.Again, these are fairly typical of what you would find in real life.

I like the notation on the bottom of the screen showing the location and date for the particular event. The digital map on the computer is also beneficial to help kids place the event in a location. I think this is a great way to sneak in a little geography and make it meaningful. My 7 year old picked up on the various locations on the maps.

My 10 year old daughter thought they were very interesting and liked how they brought the people, events, and locations to life. My seven year old thought they were awesome. I was not able to find an age range on the packaging or website, but I would say these would be interesting to elementary and junior high age students.

For my children the biggest disappointment was how short they are.I too, think they are too short because they are so engaging, I was left wondering where the time went. I think both of the videos we viewed ran about a half hour, but I did not time them.

When I first viewed these movies I was a little surprised at the way the kids spoke to each other and the slogan on the shirt of one young man. Then I listened to and looked at the children and teens around me when we went out in the community. The conversation between the video kids and their style of dress is tame compared to what I was seeing and hearing in real life.

My biggest disappointment is the manner in which the DVD was mailed. I received the DVD for review in a cardboard DVD mailer sealed with two plastic seals. to keep it closed. However, when I received it both of the seals were open and the DVD was half way out of the slot. I am thankful the DVD was still inside when I received the mailer.

Other TOS Crew members also had the opportunity to review these programs. Find links to what they had to say at the Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: I received a free DVD and online access to the mentioned episodes in order to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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