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For anyone who has used TOPS for science...

Shelly in IL

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TOPS units are only a series of guided experiments around a theme, and don't constitute a complete science program. They are good for supplementing a "spine" book, however. As for how many to use in a school year -- depends on how often you like to do experiments. We liked to do a lot of experiments, so, on average, we did 2 TOPS experiments per week. That averages out to about 72 TOPS experiments over the course of a year, which is 3-4 TOPS units (depending on how many experiments are in a unit).



We have only used the middle school level TOPS, and during middle school; most of them which worked well. There are a few TOPS units that did not work for use. (Light and Sound -- a little more advanced; required too much expensive items; couldn't reproduce all the experiences; couldn't always figure out what the experiment was supposed to have proved.) No experience with the younger units.


The big downside to TOPS is that the units are rather expensive for just a series of experiments, and just a very little explanation as to the "why" it works; and only a few units have matching supply kits, which are an additional cost. Otherwise, you have to pull all the supplies together yourself, which is time consuming and which averaged about $12-15 in supplies per unit here.


Below are TOPS units we've used successfully. BEST of luck in finding what works for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.



grade 6

- Reader's Digest "How Earth Works"

- TOPS Rocks & Minerals (with supply kit)

- supplemental library books, science videos, websites


grade 7

- Reader's Digest "How Science Works" -- chemistry portions

- TOPS Analysis (with supply kit)

- TOPS Solutions (some of the Analysis supplies work with this unit, too)

- TOPS Cohesion and Adhesion

- TOPS Heat

- supplemental library books, science videos, websites (esp. http://www.chem4kids.com)


grade 8

- Reader's Digest "How Science Works" -- physics portions

- David Macauley's "How Things Work"

- TOPS Focus Pocus

- TOPS Motion

- TOPS Electricity

(we didn't use these, but you could also do TOPS floating & sinking; TOPS pressure; TOPS Magnetism)

- supplemental library books, science videos, and several other science kits

Edited by Lori D.
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My boys (8th grade and 4th) are both doing their own science programs (8 is Rainbow Science - 4th is Real Science 4 Kids). I was just thinking that some of the "work on your own and discover" aspects of TOPS would be good for them. Youngest especially likes hands-on. I am thinking of getting: Analysis and Rocks and Minerals for my 8th grader - they both have kits. For my 4th grader I was looking at Intermediate Lentil and either Magnetism or Electricity - all with kits. Thanks for the help - it sounds like they are worthwhile.

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Dh used TOPS Rocks & Minerals with ds in 6th grade. It took them about 6 months, doing 2 lessons a week. They enjoyed it. We bought the supply kit and are glad we did. We are planning to use a few more next school year.


I contacted the authors last month about supplies for the units we are considering and found that they will soon be launching a new website AND you will be able to purchase the harder-to-find items and the easy-to-find items directly through them. Yippee! Email me if you would like a link.


We use Science Explorer along with TOPS or Exploration Education. The combination works well for us.

Edited by Sue in St Pete
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