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Catherine

With some trepidation-I'll volunteer to attempt to assist with science.

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I'm a practicing MD, and have homeschooled for five years, have as of this year done every grade but senior. In fact I was not a science major in college, I majored in English (every time Garrison Keillor jokes about english majors having useless degrees-well, there ya go). I claim no familiarity with many of the curricula out there, but know only what I have used and how I have done it. But I'm happy to answer questions about science or questions regarding medical careers, as far as my knowledge goes.

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I'd love to know what you did choose to use and how you went about it -- particularly interested whether what you did changed with different children.

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There are a lot of reasons for that. I'll say first that I only taught K-3 to one child. The middle started in fourth, the elder, in seventh. So I only have comparison years for seventh grade so far! And, used the same program for both kids: Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt. Eldest loved it. Middle likes it, but it's not his thing, so there's less enthusiasm. I purchased the teacher's edition, student text and lab manual. Warning-there are MANY editions of this textbook, and you cannot be sure that texts published the same year are the same edition. Since I buy most texts used, I didn't buy them unless there was a photo so that I could be certain I got the matching edition. I got the lab manual several months ahead and chose the experiments, and then got materials for labs from Home Science Tools and Carolina Lab Supplies. That whole process is rather time-consuming. In the end, I love this curriculum and will definitely use it again with number three. It's technically a high school program but is useable by any middle schooler with above average math and science skills\interest.

 

For eighth, elder did Singapore O-level Biology, which is out of print. I *really* liked this program. Like singapore math, it is especially good in teaching analysis and critical thinking. It's a challenging program and probably not one for eighth graders who are not pretty science-minded. If you can somehow get your hands on this curriculum, for any age, make sure you get the workbooks (there is one for each semester) and teacher's answers to the workbooks. It is there that the meat of the program lies. That said, my son ended up returning to school for ninth grade, to a math-science magnet school, and took bio for ninth grade. Wow-it covered totally different topics from those in Singapore bio! It was very strongly oriented toward molecular bio and genetics. There was almost no mammalian anatomy and physiology but they memorized the Krebs cycle. It didn't do that until college. So, I think singapore casts a wider net and covers more topics than his hs bio class did. Then again, the entire class took the SAT 2 in biology and really did very well, so it's a case of the College Board basically determining what is going to be covered in a high school class. Ack.

 

I will use singapore O-level Chemistry for my rising eighth grader. Picked it up used last year. We did bio in fifth grade with him.

 

For high school science the second time around, I am on the horns of a dilemma. I find doing the labs at home challenging, but not impossible. It does take a lot of planning though. I'd love to turn this over to a community college, but we've had pretty spotty experiences with CC science classes, so since my kids are college bound and may end up studying the sciences, it's very important that their high school science is rigorous. We also have four year colleges nearby that I will probably avail myself of for the second child.

 

For K-3, I've followed TWTM's method and recommendations, albeit rather loosely. I'm someone who does much better with curricula that require little planning on my part. Otherwise, here, it often doesn't get done. This year in particular, my third grader who is doing physics follows along with the seventh grader, but I've relied heavily on library books and my planning has been, shall we say, on the fly! He does the experiments with us, and sometimes does tiny "writeups". He also has a (somewhat neglected) nature journal and we do hikes and nature study informally year round. For fourth grade the first time around I used Real Science for Kids Chemistry level 1, and I really liked the experiments. But, it's not a year long program, it's expensive, and I dislike the author's dishonest representation of her views on ID, in what appears to be attempts to straddle the fence and sell more books. So I am still figuring out how to proceed for next year. If I do compromise and buy RS4K, I'll need something else for the second half of the year.

 

We've been particularly lucky here to live in a place where there are abundant resources in the community for people interested in science. Hopkins undergraduate campus has a yearly "physics fair", the Hubble people do monthly lectures for amateur astronomers that we loved, Goddard is not far away. So that has been very helpful.

 

I will also say that I consciously chose to deviate from the science recommendations in TWTM from middle school on. My boys are NOT writers-they can write, when forced, but it's not something they relish and not their best way of learning. So writing a long paper on the moral implications of new technology would be torture. Instead, we read about and discuss those topics, and they direct their efforts toward doing more physics problems and more chemistry experiments. We also read scientist biographies in the early years, read the Joy Hakim series on the history of science, and read magazines like Popular Mechanics, Kids Discover, Muse. We sometimes read articles from the NYT's science section. If you are considering magazine subscriptions for kids middle school and older, look into Scientific American or National Geographic.

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Thanks so much for your detailed answer! My daughter has gone through a small part of Hewitt's Conceptual Physics -- she went to a private school for all of three months last fall where she did labs. She loved physics and I would like for her to be able to continue with experiments. I found the lab manual -- but what equipment did you buy? It seems like every experiment requires a different set of objects/tools. How do you decide or prioritize financially? What was the most useful and fun?

 

Thanks again!

Karen

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I went through the textbook and set up a schedule to ensure we covered all of the chapters, (though we may skim 2 at the end of this year-the best laid plans and all that), and coordinated them with the labs. Then I planned 2-4 labs per month, and read over the labs available for a given month\set of chapters. I chose 3 per month, except for a few 4 lab months, and then listed the materials I needed. Many of them were not major lab equipment. I spent about $40 total for the year, and many of them I will reuse, like a small balance. Mostly, I chose labs that were simple, and if enough were simple that I had a choice, I chose ones that well-illustrated a point from physics.

 

Favorite experiments were mechanics ones-I am not at home right now, but when I am will review lab book and list the faves.

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I'd love to know which ones were favorites, because I can't tell from the lab manual which would be good picks for my daughter. I'd love your suggestions on Newton's Laws and motion in particular, as we've read the chapters but not done much in terms of labs. Lots of experiments seem to call for motion sensors or things that shoot balls at particular angles and speeds.

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So I went through the schedule and set up monthly plans for which chapters to cover which months, then scanned the lab manual for which labs apply for those topics. Luckily, the topics roughly correspond to the topics covered in the text, in roughly the same order. Then I read the experiments and tried to pick ones that hit each topic, and were doable. Here's a sample month:

 

September we covered chapters 2-5; on-topic labs were 2-15 and 29. My teacher's edition (2002) has a very useful table, the Program Planning Guide, that nicely lists the labs that correspond with the topics and subtopics of each chapter. I made a small table myself of labs by topic. For example, in Sept, chapter 2 has labs 2-6, chapter 3 has lab 7, chapter 4 (Newton's first law) has labs 8-10. Then I looked over the labs for each chapter and chose one or sometimes 2 for that topic. So for Chapter 4, Newtons's laws, I chose labs 8 and 9. lab 8 very nicely illustrates inertia, plus involved a competition to see who could crash the hoop most quickly and accurately to get the most nuts into the bottle, so my guys were all over it. Nine involved inertia illustrated with toy cars and their passengers in a simulated crash which of course they loved and also allowed them to see what happened to an unbelted Lego minifigure in a crash so there was some health class thrown in too.

 

Finally, I took my list of labs and figured out what supplies I needed to purchase, listed them, and ordered some from Home Science Tools (love this place), Carolina Lab Supplies (just a few specialized things), and my local hardware store.

 

In no case did we use motion sensors or computer programs that plot data. My son is only 13 so I needed to keep it fun and simple. It's also worth noting that in some cases I realized that there was a simpler way to illustrate a principle, so I used another source. One example of this is the Cartesian Diver experiment described in the textbook in chapter 19. I searched google for Cartesian Diver and came up with a great description not only of the exact principles involved, but a much simpler and more effective experiment that actually worked consistently. HTH!

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I would love to know where I should start looking for the Singapore-O. My ds is very mathy and science oriented, but I am more average here. Would you recommend a tutor with this text?

 

Also, any recs for a less science oriented child? My next dc in line is very good at math, but I think t is more as a result of his excellent memory. Problem solving is not his strong suit and he is more of an artsy child. Is there any hope of finding science curriculum for this child in middle school? Is it possible I am wrong and these attributes ill help as opposed to hinder hm in science?

 

Danielle

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Things like ebay, TWTM For Sale boards, and homeschoolclassifieds. I just don't have any other better suggestions for finding out of print curricula. I do notice the age of your son and it's probalby going to be at least a few years before he'd be ready for it, it's a late middle school\high school level curriculum.

 

As far as science for a different kind of learner, I'm afraid I can only tell you what I've done, which is use lots of experiments for younger children, particularly those who are not very interested in writing. We do very short write ups, or he dictates write ups.

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Things like ebay, TWTM For Sale boards, and homeschoolclassifieds. I just don't have any other better suggestions for finding out of print curricula. I do notice the age of your son and it's probalby going to be at least a few years before he'd be ready for it, it's a late middle school\high school level curriculum.

 

 

Thanks, I tend to buy things a bit in advance and go through them myself to become familiar with the whole process. Plus, it allows me to begin getting supplies. Oh yeah, and I am a curriculum junky.:tongue_smilie:

 

Danielle

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