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The Spectrum Chemistry-question for those who have used it

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#1 distancia

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 11:59 AM

After buying Apologia Chemistry I switched over to The Spectrum Chemistry. It has more labs (big plus!), the text is better formatted and easier to understand, and it seems to cover the nuts and bolts without omitting anything of importance.

That said, I have a few questions:

1) If your child used it, how well did it prepare him/her for Chemistry in college? What type of chemistry class did your child take in college? Did your child say college Chem was do-able or a struggle after using The Spectrum Chem?

2) Would you say that after completing The Spectrum Chemistry there is enough material that one could pass a CLEP or AP exam provided there was extensive review (i.e. with a Princeton or Peterson's Guide, etc)?

Thanks!

#2 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 12:48 PM

I can tell you that Spectrum definitely won't prepare you for the SAT-II test. I was actually quite disappointed with it. My dd could nearly always finish all the bookwork for the week in 30-45 minutes and that includes reading the material and doing all the problems. The labs sometimes took a long time, but that was because of waiting for reactions to happen.

#3 distancia

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 03:18 PM

I can tell you that Spectrum definitely won't prepare you for the SAT-II test. I was actually quite disappointed with it. My dd could nearly always finish all the bookwork for the week in 30-45 minutes and that includes reading the material and doing all the problems. The labs sometimes took a long time, but that was because of waiting for reactions to happen.


Wow! I hadn't estimated it to take that short a time...

Thanks for the info. I have a secondary (back-up) text that I have for D and I will just use The Spectrum Chem lab workbook and chemistry sets for the experiment...I'll resort to the other textbook as her primary text.

On second thought, I could design the course so D completes Chemistry in half a year and then moves on to Physics in the 2nd half of the year.

#4 DebbS

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:11 PM

We are going to be using The Spectrum this year along with The Teaching Company High School Chemistry course. I'm considering it a first year course to lead into AP Chemistry next year probably using Zumdahl. Am I on the right track here or do I need to fortify it even more?

#5 Kareni

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:21 PM

There are some remarks about Spectrum here, here and here.

Regards,
Kareni

Edited by Kareni, 15 August 2010 - 07:26 PM.


#6 Kathy in Richmond

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 08:12 PM

Answering DebbS:

Yep, that's exactly what we did with both our kids. I think Spectrum is a fine first-year high school chemistry class (and for what it's worth, I have a chemical engineering degree). My kids and I appreciated that the text wasn't overloaded with extras or fluff. I loved the lab kit -everything was there except for a jug of distilled water.

It took them on average about an hour twice a week to complete the assigned two lessons/ do the problem sets/ study. Labs were done on a third afternoon. The labs were some of the best I've ever seen in a homeschool lab course. Sure, some were easier than others, but for the most part they did a terrific job illustrating and even extending the lesson material.

Both my kids took AP Chemistry after using Spectrum. We used the Zumdahl text for that class. They were able to fly through the first several chapters thanks to Spectrum and concentrated their studies on the meatier AP level material like reaction kinetics, acid-base chemistry, thermodynamics, etc. Each of them ended up with excellent AP test results (5's) without too much stress.

As for the SAT Subject test, many schooled kids these days take the science subject tests in conjunction with AP level study (thus raising the curve and making it more difficult to get a good percentile with just a high school level course, though it certainly could be done by an ambitious student). So my kids waited and took the Subject test at the end of their AP year, too. They scheduled it during May (same week as AP testing) and studied once, killing two birds with one stone, and the results were excellent.

Anyway, I know everybody's experiences are different; I just wanted to weigh in as a family that loved using The Spectrum.:001_smile:

~Kathy

#7 distancia

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:00 PM

Both my kids took AP Chemistry after using Spectrum. We used the Zumdahl text for that class. They were able to fly through the first several chapters thanks to Spectrum and concentrated their studies on the meatier AP level material like reaction kinetics, acid-base chemistry, thermodynamics, etc. Each of them ended up with excellent AP test results (5's) without too much stress.
~Kathy


Okay, I need help with our scenario, then. My D is a Senior and she was in ps for grades 9, 10, and 11. She took Physical Sci in 9th grade and her school classifies it as a lab class, but D never did a single lab. In 10th she took Honors Bio; again, a lab class, but never a single lab there, either (NOW she tells me!). Last year she took a 1/2 term of Chem but became ill and had to withdraw. When she finally recovered in the the late Spring we were homeschooling her and she enrolled in an online Enviro Sci course at the local comm college to get some kind of science credit.

So now here she is in her Senior year, still being homeschooled. She is behind in math but we are working intently on getting her up to Alg 2 by Christmas (she has already taken Alg 2 but has forgotten much of it).

How should we treat Chem? Should she put everything she can into it and prep for the AP test, using The Spectrum as well as a stronger text?

Or should she just work thoroughly on getting a solid foundation in h/s Chem and then re-take is next year at College and do a good job there?

Our third choice would be to see how well she is doing by mid-year and gauge our decision accordingly.

Any ideas?

Edited by distancia, 15 August 2010 - 09:02 PM.


#8 Kareni

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 09:21 PM

Okay, I need help with our scenario, then. My D is a Senior and she was in ps for grades 9, 10, and 11. ...

How should we treat Chem? Should she put everything she can into it and prep for the AP test, using The Spectrum as well as a stronger text?

Or should she just work thoroughly on getting a solid foundation in h/s Chem and then re-take is next year at College and do a good job there?

...


What are your daughter's plans for colleges? Is she intending to major in a science? More information would be helpful.

Regards,
Kareni

#9 Kathy in Richmond

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 08:15 AM

In addition to Kareni's questions, I'd ask:

What else is your dd taking senior year?
What are her academic strengths?
How well did she retain the chemistry she learned in school?

You could go to your local Barnes & Noble and take a look at an AP Chem review book. There should be practice exams in the back to give her an idea of the extent of the course.

As much as I like it for a high school level chem, Spectrum alone wouldn't be AP worthy. And if she sticks to Spectrum's pace, she'd have no time left at the end to learn the additional stuff for AP - which is much, much more than the material in Spectrum. I don't think that doing Spectrum side-by-side with a text like Zumdahl would work well, either. In order to be ready for the AP test in May, she'd need to be working at the pace of a text like Zumdahl from the start of the year.

Oh, I just saw that she's in Algebra 2 concurrently. She'll need to be adept with solving algebraic equations, working with functions and graphs, and handling logs for advanced chemistry. So in that case, maybe it would be better to do a good honors-level chem instead this year, and really build a strong foundation for future work.

Are you interested at all in an online class? No experience with this one, but I've only heard great things about it: ChemAdvantage.
He offers Honors and AP chem with labs for homeschoolers; perhaps he still has room for the fall.

~Kathy

#10 distancia

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 09:16 AM

RE: Daughter's plans--

She wants to go into Marine Biology because she's fascinated by all sorts of exotic marine animals (she's grown up by the ocean all her life), but she has never shown any interest in lab science whatsoever, and all that "pure science" is the only way to get where she wants to go. She's gregarious, very active (loves tribal dance, sailing, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling) and is fascinated by practically everything on Discovery, Science, and National Geo channels. However, she's a Concepts type of person and NOT a Details person...peering through a microscope for more than a few minutes will drive her batty. Per Cathy Duffy's site she would be considered a Wiggly Willie. This is why I chose The Spectrum Chemistry--lots of action, not so much reading.

Her strengths are in the Verbal area SAT 690-710 vs. math 500.

She says if she can't go into the sciences (and she has the brains, but as my hubby, a former chem professor turned lawyer, says she doesn't have the temperament) she wants to go into anthropology. She's been to 39 different countries) and she knows the capital of every nation on the globe. She has keen powers of observation which would serve her well as an animal behaviorist, but again, in terms of being a "lab rat"....it just isn't going to happen.

So do we act "as if" she is going into the pure science field? She's not one of those who has any desire to take harder-than-necessary science courses. In her mind, the least math/chem/physics she can get away with, the better.

To be completely blunt, we think she would do "okay" in a science department at a 4th or 5th tier college that will allow a lesser-than-stellar student (in math/science) to pass through. Otherwise she will not succeed.

#11 Kathy in Richmond

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 09:51 AM

Ok! Your daughter's interests and travel experiences are fascination! One of my dd's best friends is just off to U Miami to major in marine biology. Her dream is for a career in a setting like Sea World, working with the dolphins and other marine animals. :)

Marine biology in college will still require science classes with basic lab work. Just a quick google search brought me this set of requirements at UC Santa Cruz. How fascinated is she? Is it worth enough to her to tackle lab work, even if it's not her favorite thing in the world?

Given what you've said, I think that Spectrum would be a good choice this year. If you go with it, you might want to take a look at the author's Bridge Math first (a short course covering the math she'll need in chemistry).

Another option would be Apologia's Marine biology course. It would show her colleges what she's enthusiastic about, and it comes with a lab component.

~Kathy

#12 distancia

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:27 AM

Kathy--

Would it be possible for D to do Spectrum Chem AND Apologia Marine Bio simultaneously over the course of the year?

I would prefer that D does a chemistry course throughout the year so she doesn't become "rusty" by the time she enters college next fall. Since Spectrum isn't the most demanding course--based upon what you and Angie have said, a total of 3 to 4 hours of work per week--could D also work on Apologia Marine Bio? Is it do-able? Will I be pushing my D too much? She is a perfectionist and becomes easily overwhelmed and burns out, gives up.

Here is what other courses D is taking--

--Eng Comp 2 at the local comm college (driving there 2x a week, adds another 2 hrs to her schedule)
--Span 2 at Clovis Comm Coll (online course)
--Cumulative review of Math grades 6-11 w/ Math-U-See (two 45 minute sessions daily until she is up to speed w/Algebra 2, which I anticipate to be by early November) PRIORITY!! after which she will meander on to Pre-Calc
--Spectrum Chemistry (which I will go easy-ish on until she lightens the math load in early November)

She also goes to the gym 1 hr daily (!) and is an occasional performer in a Latin dance group.

Edited by distancia, 16 August 2010 - 10:30 AM.


#13 Kathy in Richmond

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:43 AM

Yes, I would think that would be a reasonable schedule. Of course, I don't know your daughter well, and I don't know the level of work load given at your community college. But I think her previous semester of chemistry work would make at least the first half of Spectrum a bit of a review for her, and her enthusiasm for marine biology should make the Apologia course more fun.

~Kathy


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