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8th grade boy having trouble with Science


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I am just on my 3rd week of hs'ing my nephew. We are remediating a lot in grammar and math and I've gone as far back as Delta with MUS and he is sailing through that wonderfully. My problem is science. It has always been his favorite and best subject so I bought him Apologia Physical Science to stay somewhat on the 8th grade schedule with that. However, we can't get through the first module because of the conversions of measurements and units. He has always struggled with fractions so this is something we will come to later as we advance through math. Should I just shelf the whole thing until he gets to a level mathamatically to handle it? I was thinking about just letting him do an interst based science and let him get books from the library and then write about them to help improve his grammar and writing skills, and then come back to a more formal curriculum when his math skills have caught up. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

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First of all, let me say that I haven't looked at Apologia Physical Science, so I am not really answering your question, but I did want to give you some input on science measurements that may help you decide how much emphasis to place on this.


Science uses the metric system, which is very easy to understand because everything is in 10's and the prefix is what changes. The more you use the system, the more familiar you become with the system. A simple chart explaining it would be a great thing to have in his notebook for reference (how many centimeters are there in a meter?) but once he understands the prefixes he will have the system nailed down.


If this program is teaching him how to convert from the standard system to the metric system, I'd honestly just skip that section. There is really no need for him to convert from English to metric, just have him take all of his measurements in metrics, like any scientist would.


If the problems presented in the book are in the English system, I would seriously think of getting another curriculum - it simply isn't representative of the way scientists work. If you don't want to do that, then go to an online conversion calculator and let that do the work - the teaching of converting from one system to the other really isn't needed.


I firmly think that the metric system failed so miserably in the U.S. because they tried to teach us how to convert from the English system (or is it called the standard system? I don't remember!) to the metric system. I think we would have all liked it much better if we had simply been provided with conversion calculators for a few years, then we would have acclimated to it and that would have been that!


After all, we all know what a 2-liter bottle of coke looks like, don't we? We don't care how many ounces, cups, pints or quarts are in it, we just know we have two liters. For years physicians have described their work using metrics. If you've ever known anyone with cancer, you probably have a quick and ready memory for how big a centimeter is - and it doesn't matter how many fractions of an inch there are, it just matters how many centimeters there are. We learn what we have need to know!


Here's an online conversion calculator:



If he is struggling with the concept of 10's - then I would definitely hold of on the science and invest in some outstanding manipulatives to help him work through this concept.

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Math should drive your science studies. Physical Science should have 7th grade math down, which is usually pre-algebra (mastery of decimals, percents and fractions).

If you are planning on staying with Apologia you would be better off doing Biology and following with Physical Science if he is math ready. If you think it may take a bit longer you could do General Science for 8th, Biology for 9th and then Physical for 10th, Chemistry for 11th and Physics for 12th.

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I was thinking about just letting him do an interst based science and let him get books from the library and then write about them to help improve his grammar and writing skills, and then come back to a more formal curriculum when his math skills have caught up. Any suggestions on how to handle this?


This is exactly what I would do. I would use Science Matters (a general scientific literacy book - you can read a recent thread about it here) as the main text, and allow him to read/write about/experiment with anything else that catches his interest while he catches up on basic skills.

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I remember your original post, I think. Your nephew is new to hs and struggling in many basic areas, right? I, too, have a 13 year old who is new to hs and struggling in reading/writing/math. I took the interest driven route for science. It's his favorite part of the day and involves very little math. It's been a success here and I would recommend the same path to you.


I would suggest Science Jim's Bite Size Physics or Supercharged Science. They basically have the same experiments. Bite sized physics is much cheaper, though. I read it aloud to ds.


For your kid and mine, it is not just getting them up to grade level in basics, but it also to ignite a spark, a desire, a curiosity about learning. They are working harder than they ever did in ps; some part of their day has to be fun. He can do a more formal science, after he has his skills and confidence down...


Good luck!





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My kids thought the Apologia Physical Science was just interesting. They think all the Apologia Science is interesting. I know many here don't agree with that. Oh well.


Why not have him just read through the book? When his math skills are caught up , you can always come back to the conversions. You want him to enjoy this journey and not be frustrated after 3 weeks. If you need a grade to turn in somewhere, you can quiz him on vocab words and the main concepts in the modules. Does he enjoy the labs? If so, give a lab grade.


And the Apologia books have a 'recommended' grade level only. You can move up or down if needed. So maybe the General Science might be a better fit for this year?

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I agree with previous posters that you should leave Physical Science till high school.

What about doing more hands-on science. If cost is not an issue, perhaps his parents could buy some of those snap circuit kits, or chemical kits. Homesciencetools.com has a great selection. My boys enjoyed those things at middle school (as well as Apologia!). You can also use videos. Popular mechanic videos are great, and David Macaulay has ones that are also scientific.


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My son is in 8th grade and he is taking Apologia Physical Science through a tutorial program. If your student is struggling, you can purchase audio versions of newer and older editions on a mp3 type cd. I highly recommend the test and answer book which also gives answers to the module review pages. The audio cd will not play in a vehicle cd player but it will play on a computer or certain cd players.

My son reads the chapters and highlights. Then he listens to the cd and highlights more. He pauses the audio cd when answering his on your own questions.

I would take the program slowly and enjoy all of the lab experiences.

My husband and I have been concerned that the program is lacking a little substance in certain areas, but in general it is good.

This is a strict creationist view. It also has large amounts of opinion inserted. I do not consider this science above normal 8th grade level but I have been told it is a 9th grade level course.

If the child struggles, I would begin now and count it as a 9th grade science. Our area does not count physical science as a lab science anymore but many places count it. We are able to count this as a science elective through our umbrella school. My son is excited to be earning a high school credit.

My son is in Algebra I and has completed Pre-Algebra. If the math is overwhelming, you can always come back to this later. It is not continually necessary as far as I can see. We are in week 7 and metric conversion is not being covered weekly.

Good luck.

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