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high school science order merging with math, middle grade chemistry


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I've read tons of threads on high school science order, and the types of science within each area. Now my questions (my head is spinning from all that reading).

 

- Why is there a split between studying physics or chemistry conceptually vs. mathematically?

 

- Why does it seem that studying them mathematically is "better" for high school?

 

- Is there anything wrong with just studying them conceptually and calling that a high school course?

 

- Would doing a mostly conceptual course in physics or chemistry be detrimental to even a science/math oriented child? As in, for later university entrance? (yes, I'll have a look at some admissions requirements, but just wondering about recent experiences out there)

 

- Why, exactly, do some recommend going physics->chemistry->biology?

 

- Could a mostly conceptual/optional mathematical physics course (the STG, to be specific, along with the WTM rec'd. lab manual and WTM rec'd. source reading, library reading, and writing/sketching/timelining, if you are familiar) be studied alongside Dolciani Algebra II/Trig without problems?

 

- Are there different levels of high school mathematical physics courses? As in, some only require algebra, some require algebra and trig, some absolutely could not be done without pre-cal, etc.?

 

- How are these mathematical physics course levels important in the consideration of future science/math study in university?

 

I tried to find in-depth threads on the bio/chem/phys vs. phys/chem/bio debate, but couldn't find them - I know I read some good ones here within the last few years - if you could point me to some, I'd appreciate it.

 

The reason I'm asking all this is because here in NS, high school is only grades 10-12, so I will probably do earth/space science in grade 9, and the other three after that, but am trying to work out the best order. We do WTM recs for grades 5-8 science, so I'm not sure we'll need to do this "physical science" that I see talked about here a lot (why do people do this, anyway? Is it because they haven't done chem or phys in middle grades?).

 

My goal is to do another four-year round of those four areas, not to do a bit of something in 9th, and then repeat it more deeply in 12th.

 

A possible plan would be:

 

grade 8: 60s Dolciani algebra I, middle grade physics or chemistry

grade 9: 60s Dolciani geometry, high school level earth/science (WTM rec'd.)

 

high school:

 

grade 10: 60s Dolciani algebra II/trigonometry, WTM rec'd high school physics plan (STG, lab manual, extra reading, writing)

grade 11: 60s Dolciani Modern Intro. Analysis (which I'm told is pre-cal), WTM rec'd high school chemistry plan (STG, lab manual, extra reading, writing)

grade 12: Calculus?, WTM rec'd. high school biology plan (STG, lab manual, extra reading, writing)

 

What sparked all this searching and thinking is that I am trying to figure out what to do for chemistry for ds for grade 7 next year. The lab set rec'd. in my 2004 WTM is not sold anymore, and I believe the new WTM recs several labs-in-boxes, but I can't afford to buy a bunch of those. So.....I've been researching what to do - I've seen that some people use Conceptual Chemistry and Conceptual Physics in 7th and 8th grades, but I'm not crazy about doing what seems to be an in-depth textbook for middle grades - I really, really like the WTM idea of using a basic overview spine (and I'm starting to get an idea of what an overview would include - any input there would be appreciated), and supplementing with experiments, more reading, and writing. Also, I think CC and CP are too expensive for us. So, anyway, I'm researching about that (if you have any middle grade area-encompassing "spine" and lab book ideas for me - not RS4Kids - expensive, again, and I don't think chemistry is done? I would really appreciate help there, too!), and then started thinking, "If I can't come up with a chemistry plan for this year, why not do the WTM middle grade physics plan, which I already have (Reader's Digest books, create experiments from that)?" which led me down the road of researching the high school science order.

 

Thanks for any input you can give!

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Here's some of my thoughts. I realize that many people don't agree with me, but I do what I think will serve my kids best in life and educationally. I'm a math - science person, teach chemisty and physics labs and help lots of kids with math.

 

As far as conceptual vs. mathematical studying of science, I'd argue that if one is "better" than the other it is conceptual. It is much better to understand physics concepts and how it relates to life than to understand how to plug numbers into a physics formula but not really grasp how it relates to everyday things. For a child that is inclined to go into sciences, I'd still probably start on the more conceptual side of studying and then introduce a more mathy text. I think if the student has little math (in their science studies), but understands the concepts then they will still be prepared to study the sciences at a university level.

 

Many high school science courses are studied conceptually and then called high school physics or high school chemistry. I'd make the student aware that this is not equivalent to college physics or chemistry, but a great foundation.

 

Math skills are a prerequisite to studying physics and chemistry, but many people are now recommending studying biology after chemisty since many biology texts are becoming heavier on biochem and it helps to have some chemistry background.

 

Make sure the student understand the math before getting into a mathematical science. Many people study a conceptual physics or chemisty in high school and then do fine moving into a calculus based physics in college (assuming they've studied the math).

 

For middle school, you might look at some physical science texts which are basically an intro to chemisty and physics.

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Then there is Colleen, always asking the easy questions! :lol:

 

My take: I can integrate and take derivatives (i.e. do Calculus) until the cows come home. So when I was a graduate student in mathematics and took a Celestial Mechanics course in the Physics Department, I had no problems with the math. But at the end of an assigned problem would be a question: what does it mean? I found myself at a complete loss on interpretation all too often. Thus, when I discovered Hewitt's Conceptual Physics, I decided that my son could do better than I had done, namely that he could learn maybe not The Math (he is not a mathy kid), but at least some Math and establish a certain comfort zone with the basic idea of Newtonian physics.

 

We love Conceptual Physics in this household. Perhaps we would have loved Conceptual Chemistry as well but I did not know of its existence until after my son enrolled in General Chemistry at the community college.

 

You asked why there is a split between the study of science mathematically or conceptually. I am not a Physics person so perhaps I am not the one to attempt an explanation. But as I see it physics uses mathematics not just as a tool but to define phenomenon. Maxwell's Equations are positively exquisite! But no one can begin to understand the equations themselves until after they have studied multivariable Calculus (essentially Calc III). Yet people can understand some conceptual ideas of electricity and magnetism without these equations. Since so few people actually go on to take Calc III, few people even know of the existence of Maxwell's Equations. Which is too bad. I would like to see the average non-mathy person at least have an intuitive feel for rudimentary physics. But not everyone agrees. Some would call Conceptual Physics mere handwaving--not the real thing.

 

To answer your question, the conceptual ideas can be understood before our students have a sufficient amount of math under their belts.

 

As Julie noted, modern biological studies include a great deal of biochemistry. Hence the previous model (Bio, Chem, Physics) is being questioned. Wouldn't it be better for students to see at least some chemistry before biology? Sure, but many 9th graders have not yet seen exponential functions which are useful in chemistry. Thus the idea of Conceptual Physics with minimal math (just basic algebra) fills the void, allowing students to be exposed to both Algebra II and Chemistry together in 10th grade.

 

You asked many questions, Colleen. I'll return to this thread later.

 

Jane

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I've really been enjoying the Prentice Hall Science Explorer textbooks. I bought a set of 10 for under $50 through e-bay (it included chemistry, physical science, earth science, etc books). There are plenty of experiments and demonstrations for kids to do.

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Then there is Colleen, always asking the easy questions! :lol:

 

I'm sorry!!!!!!!! :lol::lol::D:D I know, I know. I always do this - think about something while you're all out there, posting away, then I read and read, and then I come along and SPLAT, lay out everything on my mind about a topic. Really and truly, I read so many threads about this and you'd think I could formulate my own answers, but...I was so overwhelmed after awhile of reading, that I had to form my own questions and put them out there.

 

This business of conceptual vs. mathy, and the order for high school is bothering me.:lol:

 

I'm going to wait and see if there are a few more responses before I reply.

 

Editing Wed. a.m.: no, you know what is *really* bothering me? It's the conflict between what I understand to be classical learning - learning a subject from the ground up for the knowledge and understanding vs. learning it quickly for the sake of meeting requirements. I guess that gets talked about all the time here, eh?

Edited by Colleen in NS
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Mostly I'm just subscribing to this thread, but I'll share our plan.

 

My ds is science oriented and my science plan as of today is:

 

7th (next year) Earth Science

8th Concept Chem (his eyes light up when we discuss chem :lol:)

9th Concept Physics (Hewitt)

10th - 11th Bio, Chem (non-conceptual)- not sure which order

12th - ?? depends on his interests. If he decides not to take physics at least the Concept Physics will be on his transcript.

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Colleen I still can't make up my mind on what order we'll be doing. And I've read and read, like you, and I'm still not a hundred percent sure one way or the other. As it stands now, we'll be using Apologia and doing physics, chem, then bio and anatomy. We'll use Saxon physics - probably in 10th or 11th, as a math course.

 

But there's a part of me still wondering if we should just do the usual bio, chem, physics and follow that with anatomy. It would be a big break between bio and anatomy that way though.

 

Another part of my thinking is that physical science, which we're doing this year, leads naturally into physics whereas biology is totally different.

 

Anyway, all of this to say that I'll be following this thread! :)

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When I look at your list of questions, most of them go unanswered.

 

I agree that mathematical without conceptual understanding is not a good thing, especially if the student wants to go into a field where the science is going to have to be used. At some point, conceptual needs to be done, but I think probably mathematical and conceptual can be done together, if they are done well. If you are just going to do one, I'd do conceptual.

 

I would have to do a comparison between what is taught in conceptual, what is done in mathematical, and what appears on the SAT2 tests to be able to tell you whether you would be doing a mathy/sciency child a disservice by only doing conceptual in high school. I think if they have a good grounding in math and have had plenty of practice applying it to real life situations, then they probably can manage their college level science classes even if they have only had conceptual science in high school. The place I would worry is getting into college in the first place. To do that, they may need to take a science SAT, and that might be a problem unless they had had the mathy sort of science. Or it might not. I took the physics SAT2 without taking physics, just on the basis of a little prep from my father and my pretty good math abilities. I had had geometry, Dolciani algebra 1+2, earth science, and chemistry (of which I remembered nothing). I think you would have to look at the modern science SAT2s to tell. To get into a science/math program at a more selective college, you need to have "rigorous" science and math on your transcript. Things labelled "conceptual" might be looked down on.

 

I had the same experience as Jane in college - I took honours physics 2 and did fine at the problem sets but totally fell apart on the midterm when I was expected to answer what does this mean after I had done all the figuring. The rest of the class did, too.

 

Math ability is the reason that more people don't do physics/chemistry/biology, I think. To do even conceptual physics, you need to have a little algebra. That order is nice because first you study atoms and how matter behaves, then you study chemistry, which depends heavily on how atoms behave, and then you study biology, which depends heavily on chemistry.

 

Not that that answers all your questions, either, but at least it bumped it.

-Nan

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I taught high school science--mostly physics--but also a few years of chemistry and biology in my first two years. I inherited a physics text that was math-based and when my turn came around I adopted Conceptual Physics. I absolutely LOVE Hewitt’s approach, however I did supplement with math because we only had one level of physics with no second year course.

 

- Why is there a split between studying physics or chemistry conceptually vs. mathematically?

Because one size doesn’t fit all. I had students who would have thrived in a rigorous, math-based course and students who would have had a better learning experience in a highly conceptual approach.

 

- How are these mathematical physics course levels important in the consideration of future science/math study in university?

Enough of my students would be going on to college physics and there was no chance that I was going to send them out to, for instance, a highly competitive engineering program without the math component. Probably some of them could have survived, but it was already challenging enough for them competing against kids from top level schools in our state.

 

- Is there anything wrong with just studying them conceptually and calling that a high school course?

No, the Conceptual Physics book is used in many high schools in the US.

- Why does it seem that studying them mathematically is "better" for high school?

IMO, because there's a perception in American high schools that the more mathy, the more sciency, the more rigorous, the better it is. The valedictorian of my high school class was a businessy-secretarial type. She was really sharp and I'll bet she made more money as an executive secretary than most of us math/science types did.

 

- Would doing a mostly conceptual course in physics or chemistry be detrimental to even a science/math oriented child? As in, for later university entrance? (yes, I'll have a look at some admissions requirements, but just wondering about recent experiences out there)

As far as admission requirements, I doubt that colleges look beyond seeing that a physics or chemistry course is on the transcript, but you'll want to check on that. In terms of preparation, yes I think it could be detrimental to a math/science oriented child, as described in the situation I mentioned above.

 

In a regular school setting it’s pretty difficult to meet the needs of the average student who is only taking physics because it’s a requirement alongside the kid in the class who scored a perfect score on the math section of the SAT, so you do the best you can for both of them. Ideally, we would have had a conceptual physics class in addition to one that took a conceptual-plus-math approach, depending on the needs of the students. If I were teaching now it’s what I would push for but we didn’t have that, so I did the best I could to meet the most needs and I felt the combination approach did that.

 

- Why, exactly, do some recommend going physics->chemistry->biology?

Because many of the concepts learned in physics (motion, rates, energy, heat, etc) carry over into chemistry. And some of the more challenging topics in biology (ie photosynthesis, genetics) are simply cellular chemistry.

 

I see the many benefits of this order, but IMO, a case can be made for any order, and since you have the ability to individualize you should make a choice based on your child's strengths/weaknesses/interests/goals and your resources, then just go with it. You could make a case for biology first because outside of the biochemistry, the life sciences are more tangible for a lot of kids and the extra maturity/experience can be helpful in grasping the less tangible/less visible/more mathematical aspects. You could make a case for chemistry last because it’s the most difficult for a lot of kids (to really make connection between the concepts, the math, and what’s going on inside the test tube), plus near the end of high school you’d have a better idea of the direction the child is going and could select between conceptual or math-based chemistry.

 

-physics->chemistry->biology

Some students do better with a math-based physics course after they’ve had two years of algebra, which pushes physics to later. I used to give a test of the basic math skills needed for physics during the second week of school and if juniors didn’t do well I’d suggest they drop the class and take it senior year. Those who did always commented on how much better prepared they were and usually did really well, and those who stayed put nearly always struggled and usually got C’s or D’s.

 

- Are there different levels of high school mathematical physics courses? As in, some only require algebra, some require algebra and trig, some absolutely could not be done without pre-cal, etc.?

I haven’t seen the AP materials in recent history, but the physics 2 books that were being published when I was teaching still just used mostly basic algebra and trig. The problem solving was more complex though.

 

 

-I've seen that some people use Conceptual Chemistry and Conceptual Physics in 7th and 8th grades, but I'm not crazy about doing what seems to be an in-depth textbook for middle grades - I really, really like the WTM idea of using a basic overview spine (and I'm starting to get an idea of what an overview would include - any input there would be appreciated), and supplementing with experiments, more reading, and writing.

Unless my kiddo was really clamoring for a more formal approach, this is likely the route I’d be going for middle school. By way of disclaimer, I should add that I had 10 years of teaching public high school and only this one of homeschool, and also that I’m all about the science first, formality second...and in fact I duked it out with my son’s 5th grade teacher over her emphasis on the formal lab report write-up over the process, results, and understanding of the concepts.

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Every single one of you is a gem! Thank you so much for the very informative responses. I will get back to you all either tonight or tomorrow.

 

Another quick question: For my high school math, I did alg. I in 8th grade, geometry in 9th grade, and alg. II in 10th grade, and dropped out of pre-cal in 11th. I never questioned this sequence. However, I read in WTM that if an American student wants to do well on the PSAT in 11th grade (which is when I think I took mine) and possibly qualify as a Merit scholar, he needs to have completed a geometry course before the test. Are these the only two reasons for putting geometry between algebra I and algebra II, esp. if a student doesn't start alg. I until 9th grade? If so, and if mathy physics requires only up to alg. 2/trig (do I understand that correctly? does it require geometry?), then I could possibly do this for mathy physics:

 

grade 8: algebra I

grade 9: algebra II

high school in Canada:

grade 10: geometry and mathy physics

grade 11: pre-cal (maybe) and chemistry

grade 12: calculus (maybe) and biology

 

Is that a reasonable possibility, provided a child is ready for algebra I in 8th grade?

 

I had a long talk with dh last night about all this, because he liked math and physics in high school. I dreamed about it, and then woke up with more conversation going on inside my head, so I went into the bathroom and kept talking at him while he showered this morning. :lol:

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Pippen,

Thank you for your great explanations!

 

Could it be useful to do Conceptual Physics in 9th grade, then a more math based Physics in 12th?

 

DC are completing the Science Explorers - Chemical Interactions and Chemical Building Blocks - this year. The oldest will be 9th grade next year. I considered having her work on D.I.V.E. Physical Science next year but half of it will contain a lot of what she "learned" this year.

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Pippen,

Thank you for your great explanations!

 

Could it be useful to do Conceptual Physics in 9th grade, then a more math based Physics in 12th?

 

 

 

This had been our plan. My son was distracted, though, by an offering of a microbiology class at the CC. I hope that he'll move on to a math based physics in college. Conceptual Physics works well in 9th, particularly if you provide some hands on activities.

 

Jane

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We discovered Conceptual Physics in 11th grade, after Apologia Bio and Chem. Ds loved it (hated bio and chem), and went on the calc based physics this year (Halliday) with no problems. Dd's will definitely do Conceptual Physics too (probably younger.)

 

Is Conceptual Chemistry "just like" Conceptual Physics (ie. reading level, presentation, etc.)?

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It is much better to understand physics concepts and how it relates to life than to understand how to plug numbers into a physics formula but not really grasp how it relates to everyday things. For a child that is inclined to go into sciences, I'd still probably start on the more conceptual side of studying and then introduce a more mathy text. I think if the student has little math (in their science studies), but understands the concepts then they will still be prepared to study the sciences at a university level.

 

bolded part: Aha, this is really helpful, and it's helpful to me to hear Jane the mathematician say basically the same thing (this board is so full of wonderful, educated professionals - I am grateful for you!). Oh, and I believe you both said the same thing about the italicized part. This makes me feel better and helps me to get a bigger picture.

 

Many high school science courses are studied conceptually and then called high school physics or high school chemistry. I'd make the student aware that this is not equivalent to college physics or chemistry, but a great foundation.

 

Why would the student have to be aware of that - do a lot of high school students expect to be taking college level science classes these days? Maybe it's all the AP, CLEP, and SAT II talk? I would not have thought to do that.

 

Math skills are a prerequisite to studying physics and chemistry

 

Make sure the student understand the math before getting into a mathematical science. Many people study a conceptual physics or chemisty in high school and then do fine moving into a calculus based physics in college (assuming they've studied the math).

 

What level of math skills do you see as typical for a high school level physics course? (I think I understand why you said calc-based for college - don't most physics courses in college have a calc admission requirement?)

 

For middle school, you might look at some physical science texts which are basically an intro to chemisty and physics.

 

Thank you for mentioning this; I did not know what physical science courses were all about, yet I took a 9th grade course called Introduction to Physical Science.

 

My take: I can integrate and take derivatives (i.e. do Calculus) until the cows come home. So when I was a graduate student in mathematics and took a Celestial Mechanics course in the Physics Department, I had no problems with the math. But at the end of an assigned problem would be a question: what does it mean? I found myself at a complete loss on interpretation all too often. Thus, when I discovered Hewitt's Conceptual Physics, I decided that my son could do better than I had done, namely that he could learn maybe not The Math (he is not a mathy kid), but at least some Math and establish a certain comfort zone with the basic idea of Newtonian physics.

 

Jane, you are so funny - I really did crack up laughing at your Colleen-with-the-easy-questions comment. :lol:

 

What you're saying sounds sort of like when you learn some arithmetic skills in elementary school, you learn the routine, the formulas, and then you tackle the word problems - it's no use that you know how to do the arithmetic if you can't figure out how to solve a word problem. And it also helps if you have real life experience with counting oranges or calculating how much four metres of fabric will cost, so that you can apply the math to the problem more easily? Conceptual physics then, could be called real life experience before learning the math and then using it to solve more complex physics problems?

 

We love Conceptual Physics in this household. Perhaps we would have loved Conceptual Chemistry as well

 

I will go have a look at these - most everything I read mentions these two books. I can at least compare them to the STG guides and lab books I already have.

 

You asked why there is a split between the study of science mathematically or conceptually. I am not a Physics person so perhaps I am not the one to attempt an explanation. But as I see it physics uses mathematics not just as a tool but to define phenomenon. Maxwell's Equations are positively exquisite! But no one can begin to understand the equations themselves until after they have studied multivariable Calculus (essentially Calc III). Yet people can understand some conceptual ideas of electricity and magnetism without these equations. Since so few people actually go on to take Calc III, few people even know of the existence of Maxwell's Equations. Which is too bad. I would like to see the average non-mathy person at least have an intuitive feel for rudimentary physics. But not everyone agrees. Some would call Conceptual Physics mere handwaving--not the real thing.

 

To answer your question, the conceptual ideas can be understood before our students have a sufficient amount of math under their belts.

 

Ah, this is sort of like my real-life interpretation above, I think. And then the math just brings more life to it?

 

As Julie noted, modern biological studies include a great deal of biochemistry.

 

Why is this, anyway?

 

7th (next year) Earth Science

8th Concept Chem (his eyes light up when we discuss chem :lol:)

9th Concept Physics (Hewitt)

10th - 11th Bio, Chem (non-conceptual)- not sure which order

12th - ?? depends on his interests. If he decides not to take physics at least the Concept Physics will be on his transcript.

 

No astronomy/earth for high school? Was that so you could leave grade 12 open for advanced classes? I've seen that to be a trend.

 

Colleen I still can't make up my mind on what order we'll be doing.

Anyway' date=' all of this to say that I'll be following this thread! :)[/quote']

 

I know, there is so much to consider - things I would never have thought of even two months ago. This conceptual thing just entered my radar recently. Just when I think my radar is finally cleared, another issue comes up.....:lol:

 

When I look at your list of questions, most of them go unanswered.

 

I agree that mathematical without conceptual understanding is not a good thing, especially if the student wants to go into a field where the science is going to have to be used.

 

Thank you, Nan, you are very kind. Even though no one had taken my questions one by one until Pippen after you, I was starting to piece things together in my mind from what people *had* already said.

 

Yes, what you said makes sense, which is why I was questioning in my mind why the push for mathy physics in high school if a student might not be ready - yet then there was the what-if-someone-wants-to-do-a-science-degree-and-hasn't-had-mathyphysics question in my mind. I totally get now why people here are always saying, "Check with schools your kids might want to go to."

 

And I guess I'm going to have to ultimately decide on the order - mathy physics in grade 12? No problem. Mathy physics in grade 10? Probably not mathematically ready, yet I like the arguments for physics first.

 

I think if they have a good grounding in math and have had plenty of practice applying it to real life situations, then they probably can manage their college level science classes even if they have only had conceptual science in high school. The place I would worry is getting into college in the first place. To do that, they may need to take a science SAT, and that might be a problem unless they had had the mathy sort of science. Or it might not.

 

The bolded opinion is good to hear. And "check the school" to the second part, right?

 

I had the same experience as Jane in college - I took honours physics 2 and did fine at the problem sets but totally fell apart on the midterm when I was expected to answer what does this mean after I had done all the figuring. The rest of the class did, too.

 

Interesting to hear of the same experience.

 

Math ability is the reason that more people don't do physics/chemistry/biology, I think.

 

I'll bet my high school did physics last because of this reason. And I didn't take physics - didn't even know what it was, but I knew it involved math and because I dropped out of pre-cal, it was too scary to think of doing. But the concept idea appeals to me - we did physics in ds' 4th grade with Physics Experiments for Children and I said to myself, "*This* is physics???? This is fun!!" He loved it, too.

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So apparently there is a post character limit of 10,000, and I went over it. So here is part 2 of my reply.

 

No, the Conceptual Physics book is used in many high schools in the US.

 

Oh, so it's common in the States to do conceptual physics in high schools! I didn't realize that, either.

 

IMO, because there's a perception in American high schools that the more mathy, the more sciency, the more rigorous, the better it is.

 

Such pressure on kids whose strengths lie elsewhere, eh?

 

As far as admission requirements, I doubt that colleges look beyond seeing that a physics or chemistry course is on the transcript, but you'll want to check on that.

 

Yep. Check it out, Colleen.

 

In a regular school setting it’s pretty difficult to meet the needs of the average student who is only taking physics because it’s a requirement alongside the kid in the class who scored a perfect score on the math section of the SAT, so you do the best you can for both of them. Ideally, we would have had a conceptual physics class in addition to one that took a conceptual-plus-math approach, depending on the needs of the students. If I were teaching now it’s what I would push for but we didn’t have that, so I did the best I could to meet the most needs and I felt the combination approach did that.

 

Thanks for this perspective, too. I'm so glad to be able to tailor things to my kids.

 

Because many of the concepts learned in physics (motion, rates, energy, heat, etc) carry over into chemistry. And some of the more challenging topics in biology (ie photosynthesis, genetics) are simply cellular chemistry.

 

Thank you, this, along with others' comments on this question, helps me to understand the "why" of the different order. I appreciate that you listed specifics. Dh and I were talking about this last night - he did a mathy physics in grade 12, and couldn't for the life of him understand my WTMboard-influenced reasoning. To him, high school physics is math, and what is the point of doing it without math, so why would I want to reverse the order. Of course, he completely leaves these decisions up to me, and I usually don't involve him because he doesn't want to hear all these details, :lol:, but I'd had it with just talking to a computer, so I bombarded him last night - "Sit down! I'm going to explain something to you and then I want to know what you think and why." Poor guy.:D

 

Oh, and he was also wondering why a person would need another physics course in college if they took a mathy physics in high school - I don't know the answer to that one - can anyone tell me? Is mathy physics in high school just scratching the surface of general physics concepts?

 

I see the many benefits of this order, but IMO, a case can be made for any order, and since you have the ability to individualize you should make a choice based on your child's strengths/weaknesses/interests/goals and your resources, then just go with it. You could make a case for biology first because outside of the biochemistry, the life sciences are more tangible for a lot of kids and the extra maturity/experience can be helpful in grasping the less tangible/less visible/more mathematical aspects. You could make a case for chemistry last because it’s the most difficult for a lot of kids (to really make connection between the concepts, the math, and what’s going on inside the test tube), plus near the end of high school you’d have a better idea of the direction the child is going and could select between conceptual or math-based chemistry.

 

I'm glad you wrote out all those arguments - I'm am going to keep this thread subscribed in my science file for future reference. These arguments are good food for thought.

 

Some students do better with a math-based physics course after they’ve had two years of algebra,

 

Is geometry necessary, too, or just the two years of algebra? What do you think of my other post on math order with physics in grade 10? This could widen my possibilities and give me the best of both worlds.

 

Unless my kiddo was really clamoring for a more formal approach, this is likely the route I’d be going for middle school. ...I’m all about the science first, formality second...and in fact I duked it out with my son’s 5th grade teacher over her emphasis on the formal lab report write-up over the process, results, and understanding of the concepts. [/size]

 

OK, this makes me feel better, too, esp hearing from a former p.s. teacher - you sound like you really know kids. My elementary p.s. teacher mother is like that, too.

 

Science Explorers - Chemical Interactions and Chemical Building Blocks

 

Can you please tell me more about these?

 

I hope that he'll move on to a math based physics in college.

 

Even hearing this makes me reassured.

 

You'll all be happy to hear (Jane, you're not laughing at me again, are you??:lol:) that I e-mailed a local homeschooler today, who has five kids with at least one in high school, and I know this lady is academically minded - she is doing a workshop at our local fair on transcript/portfolio writing for high school. I asked her if there were other Moms around here who are homeschooling high school and where could I find them to ask questions later on about university admissions around here. And to ask what local university admission requirements meant - "grade 12 math" = algebra II? pre-cal? Calculus? I have no clue and can't figure it out from the DOE website. Anyway (getting to my point), she told me she is in the process of gathering admissions information from schools all over the Maritime provinces, so that she can provide information on her website (she runs an e-mail loop here, but no actual group that meets). THAT will be really helpful. (You might be asking, "Why do you keep talking about local schools, Colleen?" The fact is, it's what we will probably have to do, in order to minimize costs if our kids decide to go to post-secondary - they can live at home and commute, and there may be scholarships/discounts and prioritizing of local students - we have a pretty good variety of schools in our area).

 

I really appreciate everyone's input.

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Why would the student have to be aware of that - do a lot of high school students expect to be taking college level science classes these days? Maybe it's all the AP, CLEP, and SAT II talk? I would not have thought to do that.

QUOTE]

 

 

The reason I said to make the student aware that high school conceptual physics/chemistry is not the same as college level (at least for majors) is that I've seen too many students say they took high school physics and jump into a calculus based college physics without the math background to do so. They thought it would be equivalent to their high school experience.

On the other hand, many people on this board recommend conceptual textbooks that are the "non-science major" college texts, so it might be the same as college.

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No astronomy/earth for high school? Was that so you could leave grade 12 open for advanced classes? I've seen that to be a trend.

 

 

At this point I don't plan either of those for high school. My plan are still written in pencil though. My son's interest in science leans more toward the chem/physics side, and I want him to have the time to cover those subjects at an advanced level. Should his interests change we'll plan a difference science for his senior year.

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[quote name=Julie of KY;1666275

The reason I said to make the student aware that high school conceptual physics/chemistry is not the same as college level (at least for majors) is that I've seen too many students say they took high school physics and jump into a calculus based college physics without the math background to do so. They thought it would be equivalent to their high school experience.

On the other hand' date=' many people on this board recommend conceptual textbooks that are the "non-science major" college texts, so it might be the same as college.

 

This is an important point. Many colleges offer three levels of physics:

1) a one semester course that fulfills basic study requirements

2) a two semester algebra course for those who need a math-based course, but not calculus. This would include fields such as nursing, physical therapy, biology, education majors majoring in general science, etc.

3) a two semester calculus course for physics, chemistry, and engineering majors

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I've seen too many students say they took high school physics and jump into a calculus based college physics without the math background to do so.

 

Many colleges offer three levels of physics:

1) a one semester course that fulfills basic study requirements

2) a two semester algebra course for those who need a math-based course, but not calculus. This would include fields such as nursing, physical therapy, biology, education majors majoring in general science, etc.

3) a two semester calculus course for physics, chemistry, and engineering majors

 

Thank you, both, for helping me to piece a few more things together in my mind!!

 

Is it reasonable for me to think that if a child had alg I and II in grades 8 and 9, that he/she could do a more mathy physics in grade 10? Or is geometry needed? Is it reasonable for alg. II to follow up alg. I, or is geometry *needed* for alg. II?

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Wow, what a lot of informed people! It's so great to be on this board.

 

One little anecdote to relate -- I never did get my high schooler to do physics at home, math based OR conceptual. This year, as a high school senior, she's been taking the calculus based physics at the local college. Despite having absolutely no physics background, she's done very well in it. I think what helped her succeed is having finished Calc I and II before attempting it (and doing Calc III concurrently). It looks like it's the math background that makes the big difference. She's not struggling with the math so much that she can't get the concepts. Other kids who only had Calc I to start (and are taking Calc II concurrently) don't seem to have as much grasp of either the concepts or the math.

 

For her, taking conceptual physics beforehand wouldn't have made much difference. OTOH, it's a nice intro if you want to do science but your student isn't ready for calc based physics.

 

My high school freshman is now doing Hewitt's Conceptual Physics. It does require a good basis in algebra, and geometry is helpful. This doesn't necessarily mean the student needs to have had Alg II, only that the concepts of Alg I need to be very firm in their mind.

 

The one complaint I have about conceptual physics is that at times it gets a little difficult to understand -- there are some concepts that just seem like "magic" because the math isn't there to explain it. And a complaint I have about Hewitt is that he will go on talking and talking, confusing the issue, when he had a perfectly good figure and caption that explained the concept before all his words got in the way and convinced my daughter that she didn't understand it after all. This isn't just Hewitt, though. It's a problem I've seen with a lot of "easy" texts.

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Here's some of my thoughts. I realize that many people don't agree with me, but I do what I think will serve my kids best in life and educationally. I'm a math - science person, teach chemisty and physics labs and help lots of kids with math.

 

As far as conceptual vs. mathematical studying of science, I'd argue that if one is "better" than the other it is conceptual. It is much better to understand physics concepts and how it relates to life than to understand how to plug numbers into a physics formula but not really grasp how it relates to everyday things. For a child that is inclined to go into sciences, I'd still probably start on the more conceptual side of studying and then introduce a more mathy text. I think if the student has little math (in their science studies), but understands the concepts then they will still be prepared to study the sciences at a university level.

 

Many high school science courses are studied conceptually and then called high school physics or high school chemistry. I'd make the student aware that this is not equivalent to college physics or chemistry, but a great foundation.

 

Math skills are a prerequisite to studying physics and chemistry, but many people are now recommending studying biology after chemisty since many biology texts are becoming heavier on biochem and it helps to have some chemistry background.

 

Make sure the student understand the math before getting into a mathematical science. Many people study a conceptual physics or chemisty in high school and then do fine moving into a calculus based physics in college (assuming they've studied the math).

 

For middle school, you might look at some physical science texts which are basically an intro to chemisty and physics.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

As for the order, it has to do with all the Chemistry involved in understanding Biology today. For conceptual texts, we have Conceptual Chemistry, which worked very well for dd. You could do that in grade 8 or 9. It's designed for university/college liberal arts majors. There are also Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Physics texts that come in various editions, including one for high school and another for college.

 

My bil, an engineer who works with computers and has designed parts for airplanes, told me that the conceptual part is very important, and that you can always learn the math later. This was in light of my ds who is naturally good at the conceptual part of physics but, at that time anyway, was behind a bit in math (and years behind in math where he was conceptually, because he was years ahead in the latter.)

 

My brother, who teaches physics at a smaller university in the interior of BC, said that he thought the college Hewitt Conceptual Physics would be good for dd. If your dc is going to go to university in Canada, you may wish to chek for what they already need to know. Do they teach Calculus in high school in your province? What we're going to do is to do AP courses in Physics & Chem later in high school because dd plans to major in science and likes Chem but not Biology. I'm not sure which country she'll go to university/college, but right now she's leaning to the States.

 

What you don't want is to get into really mathy Chem or Physics and have a dc who doesn't understand anything about what they are doing. Physics can be hard for many to understand, because it's a special kind of thinking, IMO, that my db and my ds (not genetically related, which is quite funny) both share.

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Despite having absolutely no physics background, she's done very well in it. I think what helped her succeed is having finished Calc I and II before attempting it (and doing Calc III concurrently).

 

Hewitt's Conceptual Physics. It does require a good basis in algebra, and geometry is helpful. This doesn't necessarily mean the student needs to have had Alg II, only that the concepts of Alg I need to be very firm in their mind.

 

And a complaint I have about Hewitt is that he will go on talking and talking, confusing the issue, when he had a perfectly good figure and caption that explained the concept before all his words got in the way and convinced my daughter that she didn't understand it after all. This isn't just Hewitt, though. It's a problem I've seen with a lot of "easy" texts.

 

Thank you for this helpful information, too!

 

There are also Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Physics texts that come in various editions, including one for high school and another for college.

 

My bil, an engineer who works with computers and has designed parts for airplanes, told me that the conceptual part is very important, and that you can always learn the math later.

 

Do they teach Calculus in high school in your province?

 

What you don't want is to get into really mathy Chem or Physics and have a dc who doesn't understand anything about what they are doing.

 

Thank you for this, too. I didn't realize CP came in various editions.

 

I have been trying to figure out what math is taught in high schools here in NS - it's hard for me to figure out, because it's not called Algebra/geometry/calculus - it's called "math" and by the grade levels. Then there are different levels within the grades. I downloaded (after I finally found it on the huge DOE website) the curriculum/course descriptions for the public schools here, but only had a quick look at the h.s. math sections. I may need to copy and send those parts to Jane in NC and ask her if she will translate for me!!!:lol: But actually, I have asked a few people, and got a vague reply that calculus is taught in university here, not high school....

 

I really appreciate everyone's input here - it has helped clear up a lot of my questions.

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I don't know if conceptual or mathematical is better, but I have used both Conceptual Physics (in the form of Conceptual Physical Science) and Conceptual Chemistry with my middle school aged son.

 

After two years of conceptual science I've come to the conclusion that "conceptual" is another, nicer way of saying "dumbed down to the point of eliminating important information." I really wish I didn't have to say this, but it seems to be true. Over and over again, when I (or another outside source) has gone over the quantitative aspects of something with my son, a lightbulb has appeared over his head. Eliminating the quantitative aspect makes physics and chemistry appear fuzzy. Even to me and I have a degree in biochemistry.

 

Also, in the books, and *especially* in the Conceptual Chemistry videos, a bit less so in the Conceptual Physics videos, they seem to always be trying to convince students about how easy everything is. Every time Suchochi talks about a complicated concept he punctuates it with "got that?" as if saying that will make things easier. My son claims that the videos remind him of Blue's Clues.

 

I don't think I'll be using any of the Conceptual science books again.

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II've come to the conclusion that "conceptual" is another, nicer way of saying "dumbed down to the point of eliminating important information." I really wish I didn't have to say this, but it seems to be true. Over and over again, when I (or another outside source) has gone over the quantitative aspects of something with my son, a lightbulb has appeared over his head. Eliminating the quantitative aspect makes physics and chemistry appear fuzzy.

 

Thank you for this perspective. Can you please explain to me what important information was eliminated, and what "quantitative aspects" means? I need all the thinking help I can get in evaluating for science courses!

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I don't know if conceptual or mathematical is better, but I have used both Conceptual Physics (in the form of Conceptual Physical Science) and Conceptual Chemistry with my middle school aged son.

 

After two years of conceptual science I've come to the conclusion that "conceptual" is another, nicer way of saying "dumbed down to the point of eliminating important information." I really wish I didn't have to say this, but it seems to be true. Over and over again, when I (or another outside source) has gone over the quantitative aspects of something with my son, a lightbulb has appeared over his head. Eliminating the quantitative aspect makes physics and chemistry appear fuzzy. Even to me and I have a degree in biochemistry.

 

Also, in the books, and *especially* in the Conceptual Chemistry videos, a bit less so in the Conceptual Physics videos, they seem to always be trying to convince students about how easy everything is. Every time Suchochi talks about a complicated concept he punctuates it with "got that?" as if saying that will make things easier. My son claims that the videos remind him of Blue's Clues.

 

I don't think I'll be using any of the Conceptual science books again.

 

Which Conceptual Physics edition did you use?

 

As for Conceputal Chemistry, my dd loved the videos. I would have let her skip them because there was less there than in the text and I thought they were too easy for a freshman, but it made it fun, and she wanted that. She's not very motivated yet and she didn't watch Blues Clues growing up. However, one of her uncles is just like the first man on Blues Clues, so that might have helped her enjoyment since she enjoys my brother. We did this as a preliminary course and are going to do a mathier one later. However, she did do some math with her labs, so that may have helped.

 

I will say, though, that there were times when dd was frustrated because it didn't go deep enough. Nevertheless, overall it was a success here. In her Junior year she's going to do AP Chem or the equivalent, or I wouldn't have done the first. I also think that Conceptual Chem will be the only one my middle one will want to do because she doesn't like science and does it because she has to.

 

Personally, if I'd known everything I know now and had had all the books, I'd have had dd do RS4K Chem II at the end of grade 7, and CC in grade 8. Still, I think it's a good course for those who hate science but have to take it, kids who can't do the math yet (not my dd's case) or as in intro.

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