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Ester Maria would you mind explaining more...


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about this sentence in your signature:

 

Sciences should be studies simultaneously in high school, not in one year blocks.

 

In the UK system, a college-bound student would study physics, chemistry and biology simultaneously (as well as some computing) from ages 14 to 16. Calvin's school timetable (he starts on Thursday) has three periods for each subject each week. The courses lead to exams which are very roughly the same level as a SAT subject test.

 

A pupil might drop sciences thereafter, or might take one of more science at a higher level from ages 16 to 18.

 

Laura

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LOL I just asked her that. I will copy and paste her post from another thread.

 

 

My general/ideal scheme (which I adopted a bit to each child, of course) would be:

 

3rd/4th: The concept of "nature"; basic characteristics of Sun, water and sea, air (+ its basic chemistry, gases it consists of); types of soils (+ where they are in the world and how it's connected to agriculture and economy - basic); life cycle of a plant (+ its basic chemistry, photosynthesis); the concept of physical health/illness and leading a healthy lifestyle

 

4th/5th: Basic cytology; types of microscopes, using one, the principles it works on; vertebrates vs. non-vertebrates, the groups of vertebrates; basic physiology of animals (general) and a more detailed one of plants; sex ed / health; cycle of life (who eats whom ) and food in the world context, the problem of famine

 

5th/6th: Ecosystems (the main focus of the year); energy and movement (Sun, water, etc. + various other sources of energy); nutrition unit (food pyramids; the problem of fructose; how they poison us, etc.)

Geography: Physical geography of the world (geomorphology, climates, environmental - basic)

 

6th/7th: synchrony

Biology: chemical and biological evolution, fossils, geological eras; taxonomy and kingdoms; autotrophs vs. heterotrophs; parasites; viruses and bacteria; Cytology again, but on a more complex level + mitosis, meiosis (NOT on a full detailed level yet); animals and plants in order of evolution, the main mechanisms of evolution (selection, isolation, mutations, Darwin)

Chemistry: Chemistry vs. Physics (and chemical vs. physical changes), types of substances, compounds; states of matter; Periodic table (+ trends) - atoms and elements (atomic/proton number, valences of the elements, ionic structures, basic reactions); models of the atom; chemical and physical proprieties of water and air (gases)

Physics: measurements and systems; proprieties of bodies (inertion, density, etc.); force (vector quantities); Earth's gravity; elastic force; friction; pressure; work; energy; gravity; electric energy; strength; heat (cycling and measurement); hydrostatic vs. hydraulic pressure

7th/8h:

Biology: DNA/RNA structure, chromosomes, mutations; physiology of human organism (the focus of the year, system by system); substance dependence prevention (+ basic chemistry of drugs); the origins of man (evolution II)

Chemistry: metals and alloys; salts; carbon -> most of the year revolves around basic organic chemistry; alcohols; monosaccharides and polysacchardies (carbohydrates in general); carboxyl groups; esters; aminoacids and proteins; enzymes; soaps and detergents and their basic chemistry (or how not to ruin the house and yourself when you clean it ); the concept of polymers; basically the year of organic chemistry, but NOT hardcore (a bit simplified)

Physics: Four main units: electricity (+ EM induction, Ohm, etc.), speed and acceleration, waves (+ sound, light, types of lenses, etc.) and wave-particle nature of the world (it should be veeery light at this point, no higher math)

 

I wrote 3-7 (4-8) in quite a details, but the very basic high school scheme, which would go on in synchrony as opposed to studying separate disciplines per year, would be:

8th/9th

Biology: Cytology (detailed)

Geography: Physical geography + geology

Chemistry: General

Physics: Dynamics, Mechanics of fluids, complex movements + 6th/7th grade topics in detailed, objections to Newton -> basic Einstein concept of gravity

9th/10th

Biology: Evolution of species (animals and plants; physiology in order of evolution)

Chemistry: all that which is in-between general and specifically anorganic chemistry (acids and bases in depth)

Physics: Electromagnetism, waves and optics II

10th/11th

Biology: Human physiology and anatomy with basic pathology

Chemistry: Anorganic chemistry

Physics: Modern physics (Einstein General and Specific; models of atom and nuclear physics)

11th/12th

Biology: Genetics and Evolution

Chemistry: Organic in-depth (tied with Biology)

Physics: Quantum and contemporary physics; nuclear physics and weapons

 

Ideally, the last year would be free to study a specific field of interest, since this way you have covered even more than high school Biology, Chemistry and Physics, only not one-per-year, but in synchrony, which is in my opinion a better way to do it; then the last year would be free to do something like Biochemistry, Astronomy, etc.

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Thank you both! This is very interesting. So how would this look on a schedule? Would you call the Mon. class Biology, Wed. class Chemistry and the Fri. class Physics (for example). This would combine the total of 3-4 years of science (the 4th being for physical geography) but divided up so that you are studying some topics from each subject each year? Do you think American colleges would accept this idea on a transcript? How would this work with taking subject tests, etc?

 

Thank you! This is very interesting and I know my dd would love this idea.

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How would this work with the idea that Chemistry is the mother science and should be studied before Biology and Physics? Also, we used RC for years, and Dr. R didn't suggest formal science study until Calculus was completed. His contends that calc is needed for physics and that high school students headed for science majors should not study algebra-based physics in high school. When one of our sons thought he was headed for a science-based career, I talked with the head of the physics dept. at a local university. He agreed. He said ds should work through calculus and then head to the university for physics.

 

Input?

 

Bonita

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In Japan, kids study biology, chemistry and physics simulaneously at the high school level. My friend said they do the same in Poland. She thinks this is why American students aren't as internationally competitive in science.

I realize that what I'm going to say right now is one HUGE generalization, but actually, the more "Eastern" you move on the world map, the more scientifically literate the kids and, nearly as a trend, the more symultaneous approach.

 

This scheme isn't my invention as much as it's a blend of things we've (my husband scientist :D and I) found, or discouvered talking to his colleages; I've taken a lot of ideas from school systems from Central and Eastern Europe and basically modelled it around it.

 

Your observation that American students aren't as internationally competitive because of this scheme is VERY accurate one. :) While such a system does have some of its pluses (mainly in terms of focus within the discipline), I believe its minuses outweigh them. It's very unrealistic to expect anyone without GOOD math preparation to understand the physics I put in 11th-12th grade - it just takes time for kids to at least finish with Trigonometry and similar areas, so if studied before, it's problematic.

On the other hand, organic chemistry fits PERFECTLY certain units of biology, to which you also get by the end of the scheme. I also find it impossible to study some units of biology WITHOUT organic chemistry.

 

By studying fields simultaneously, you reach the difficult areas and the intertwined areas which require much scientific and mathematical preknowledge somewhere about 11th-12th grade and cope with it much better.

 

The amount of time required weekly would be roughly about 2-3 hours weekly per discipline, depending on the child, intensity, the need for practice, labs if you do them, etc. I don't recommend going below the total of 6-7 hours weekly, but it really doesn't take double as much either, as it might seem on the first glance.

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We just switched to this system. I was complaining to DH that studying biology all year seemed to be ruining DS12's passion for biology, and DS was complaining that I was always saying "no, we can't study that now, that's scheduled for X grade." DH said "I've never understood why Americans only study one science per year, — do you do that with other subject areas?" I realized that no, we don't study grammar one year and literature the next and spelling the year after that, so why should we only study one branch of science per year? DH was raised in the UK and, as Laura mentioned, they do bio/physics/chem every year.

 

The way I've started doing it is to break up each science subject into separate units, like evolution/genetics/cells/botany/etc for bio, light/heat/mechanics/etc for physics, solar system/stars/cosmology/history of astronomy, etc. and we mix and match units as interests arise. We're currently doing astronomy and biology, focusing on the solar system & history of astronomy for the former, and arthropods and cells for the latter. We'll also be adding in some chemistry from Kitchen Chemistry and Caveman Chemistry, some physics from the Gurstelle books (Backyard Ballistics, etc.), and some geology (DS attends 2 one-week, intensive, adult-level paleo courses every year).

 

DS is in 7th now, but I plan to continue like this through 10th, by which point he will have covered the same info he would have gotten if he'd been doing one subject per year. Then he'll start taking science classes at CC — continuing to do several sciences simultaneously.

 

Jackie

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How would this work with the idea that Chemistry is the mother science and should be studied before Biology and Physics? Also, we used RC for years, and Dr. R didn't suggest formal science study until Calculus was completed. His contends that calc is needed for physics and that high school students headed for science majors should not study algebra-based physics in high school. When one of our sons thought he was headed for a science-based career, I talked with the head of the physics dept. at a local university. He agreed. He said ds should work through calculus and then head to the university for physics.

 

Input?

 

Bonita

First of all, the whole chemistry should be studied first thing is a dogma that you won't find in the rest of the world. I'm married to a chemist. ;) It's just ONE of the possible approaches we're talking about.

 

Second, regarding calculus, also note that the division of the content in mathematics you're used to is not the only one possible. Many of the countries which use similar science frameworks actually go further with mathematics and teach notions from calculus as a matter of course throughout the years, or even don't have the traditional algebra - geometry - trigonometry - calculus - statistics rote that you're used to: they often study EVEN THAT in synchrony.

 

While that's unfortunately not very true for Italy and its horrible science outside of specialized lycees, I have a few friends from former Eastern Bloc and, well, they studied trigonometry in something like 7th grade. :lol: As in: basic concepts, something like a fifth of a trigonometry textbook. And then they came back to it later at some stage. And pretty much all you know as "calculus" ended up being covered before the real hardcore physics that you need it for. The whole idea was about their scientific and mathematical literacy progressing together, without delaying learning of any area, but also without forcing things that couldn't be understood due to lack of initial knowledge needed.

 

I find it to be a superior approach. I'm not professionally into science so my opinion here is merely an amateur observation, but it does seem to work very well in such a system.

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Ester Maria,

If science and math were studied like you said, I think there would be more kids that like the subjects. I am homeschooling my second in high school..... we keep chugging along, but some of this stuff isn't meant for a teenage brain!! Maybe if there had been more introduction as you mentioned when they were younger...

 

Maybe someone will do some textbooks with this in mind. I haven't used it, but I think Singapore Math seems to do what you are saying for math. The middle school Apologia texts mix the sciences more as well.

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How would this work with the idea that Chemistry is the mother science and should be studied before Biology and Physics?

 

... you already get enough background in chemistry to be able to use it in the other sciences. With maths/physics: the courses are designed to be studied simultaneously, so I suspect that the more maths-heavy areas of physics are left to the end of the course. The UK system finishes the equivalent of Algebra I and II, Geometry and large chunks of statistics, trig and calculus by age sixteen - maths is not split up into year-long blocks but woven together each year.

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
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May I share my experiences with this?

I am from Germany, and the idea is the same there. In 5th grade, the first science introduced is biology with about 2-3 hours a week. In 6th grade, 2-3 hours of physics are added, and in 7th grade, chemistry. Every student must take all those subjects through 10th grade, after that, I believe, you get to pick one or two in which to do in-depth courses.

To me, the way it is done in the US seems very strange.

 

In the beginning, in 6th grade physics, there is only a little bit of math, some basic algebra (which also is taught earlier in Germany, and also not in a one-year block, but interspersed with geometry and other topics). You can do quite a lot of physics already.

The curriculum is designed so that the math needed for the science has been taught; so anything in physics that would need calculus is saved for the last two years of highschool (when I went to school, we had two years of calculus, jr and Sr year)

 

Btw, chemistry is definitely NOT the mother of science. If anything, chemistry is an application of physics. Ever chemical reaction comes about because of the laws of physics: it is the behavior of the electrons, governed by quantum mechanics, which makes chemical bonds form; it is thermodynamics which determines the energetics of a chemical reaction. All biological systems and all their components have to obey the laws of physics as well. So in that sense, the most fundamental of sciences would be physics.

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Oh, I wasn't saying that chemistry is the mother science. Just an idea from some educators.

 

Even though he does not espouse combining the three sciences, Dr. R's method falls in line with the idea that "the most fundamental of sciences would be physics." His children, six of them, did not formally study any science until they completed calculus, age 14 - 16. Then, they studied physics followed by chemistry using college-level textbooks. Biology later. All of the children have earned or are in the process of earning doctorates in science-related fields. The youngest passed many, many AP courses. The list is staggering.

 

This science thread interested me because I am not a science or math person. However, I do recognize what works/connects/interests/resonates with my children. We have tried several popular textbooks. Our children found them easy and predictable. After they understood what they needed to do to earn good grades on the tests, the rest of the course was a wash. Dd doesn't have the math for physics or chemistry, and she is not enthusiastic about science. Even though she is a creative and inquistive person, science is another box to check. Most of the experients require her to recreate an experiment, which seems pointless to her.

 

Sorry, I have taken this in another direction, but after looking at various approaches for history/literature, I have now moved on to science.

 

Bonita

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My ds took Intergrated Science in 9th grade at his private high school - yup it's a bit of chemistry, biology, and physics in one year. Then they do take biology, chemistry and physics in subsequent years BUT each of those classes does some of the other sciences too.

 

Many schools in my area study physical science AND earth science in one year in either grade 8 or 9.

 

If science education is so bad in the US, then why do we have among the best scientists and scientific universities in the world?

 

Take a look at Intel's or Siemen's high school science/tech competitions and you will see HIGH level science happening!

 

http://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/competition.htm'>http://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/competition.htm'>http://www.intel.com/about/corporateresponsibility/education/sts/index.htmhttp://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/competition.htm

http://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/competition.htm

Edited by MIch elle
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Y'all asked what I was wondering, too. Very cool. I'm wondering if you do something crazy, and order chem, bio and physics all at once, and teach 1/3 of the books per year? Or is totally impossible the way American science curricula is written?

Edited by justamouse
i had another science in there, then took it out, but forgot to change my fraction. this daRN box always asking why
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If science education is so bad in the US, then why do we have among the best scientists and scientific universities in the world?

"Imported intelligence"? Brain drain, even in entire "waves" of it, first from the countries of the former Soviet Bloc and now from the countries of Far East and India? :D

 

Universities aren't necessarily representative, since each university will produce experts; if you want to see average scientific literacy of a population as a whole, you need to test high school seniors... both those who aim for a scientific career, and those who don't. Also, note that a huge number of engineering degrees in the US is being awared to foreign nationals, and that much of the staff are "imported intelligence" as well.

Nobody is disputing the quality of the US universities (actually I do - but when it comes to certain humanities, not sciences), nor the fact that US has the money to have the best instruments and attract the highest quality scientists from all over the world, but that's exactly the point - those are the people that got their basic science preparation outside of the US.

 

And then again, nobody is talking about kids on IMO either - of course that you will find talented kids, dedicated mentors, hard workd and good results in any country. What we're talking here is basic scientific literacy of the population on a whole - and we can talk about it only if we compare what's studied, when and how structured it is on the primary and secondary level of education.

Edited by Ester Maria
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I've been watching my son go through the system here in Switzerland where they do the mixing of sciences.

 

While I can see some of the advantages mentioned above, I am not overly impressed. Eg he hardly had any experience with the scientific method and did almost no experiments. I think he graduated not knowing how to write a lab report. In France they are not introduced to the scientific method until the end of high school - according to a young woman who recently graduated.

 

They are slowly changing here, as it was recently introduced in the Jr Hi. But schools do not have science fairs, and in grade school and Jr. Hi, they have almost no science.

 

I have not completely evaluated and compared what was learned/taught in high school in the 3 areas yet, so I cannot give a final opinion for overall knowledge.

 

I think there is something to say for both systems. With the typical American system, I think you can go into greater depth. With the "European" system, maybe the subjects aren't so easily forgotten by the end of high school. Overall though, I think there is less hands on experience here and it encourages the average individual to not dare to fix their own things, house, etc.

 

So overall, I think it is more complex than it first appears, and there may be factors not taken into consideration....

 

From afar,

Joan

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If science education is so bad in the US, then why do we have among the best scientists and scientific universities in the world?

 

 

In short: because the universities are still good and not plagued by what causes the decline in level in public K-12 education. This attracts good students and faculty, not just from inside the country, but from all over the world.

The later is an important factor: about half the doctorates in science are earned by foreigners - there are not enough American students qualified and willing to choose these directions. Which is most likely a direct consequence of the K-12 education in those fields.

Two thirds of those foreigners stay in the US after completing their doctorate.

 

The physics department at our university does a worldwide search for every open position. For the last seven positions (filled over the past ten years), the most qualified applicants happened to be foreigners. (The hoops are very tight; the department has to prove that no US citizen has been found who is qualified before they are allowed to give a foreigner the job).

 

For a few numbers see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_born (I know wiki is not the most reliable source, but had no time to check out the references; the numbers agree roughly with everything I read elsewhere)

Just a few numbers from there:

 

 

  • 55% of Ph.D. students in engineering in the United States are foreign born (2004).[1]

  • Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Ph.D. scientists and engineers employed in the United States who were born abroad has increased from 24% to 37%.[1]

  • 45% of Ph.D. physicists working in the United States are foreign born (2004).[1]

  • 80% of total post-doctoral chemical and materials engineering in the United States are foreign-born (1988).[2]

 

And directly related to K-12:

 

 

  • An astounding 60 percent of the top science students in the United States and 65 percent of the top math students are the children of immigrants. In addition, foreign-born high school students make up 50 percent of the 2004 U.S.Math Olympiad’s top scorers, 38 percent of the U.S. Physics Team, and 25 percent of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists—the United States’ most prestigious awards for young scientists and mathematicians.[4]

 

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I think some people may be confusing 2 different approaches here: studying several sciences sequentially within one year, and studying several sciences simultaneously each year. The typical "integrated sciences" course in the US generally uses a single textbook that provides a few chapters on each of the sciences: a few chapters on basic physics followed by some basic chemistry, then basic biology, and finally a bit of earth/space science. It's a single course, and the different sciences are studied in sequence. That's very different from the typical UK approach of having separate classes in physics, chemistry, and biology throughout the entire school year, with each course taught by a different teacher using a different textbook. E.g. at age 15 DH's course line-up might have looked like this: Math, English, Latin, German, History, Art, Physics, Chemistry, Biology. The science texts they use would be equivalent to HS level here. After the age of 16, students specialize in certain areas in preparation for A-level exams and at that point they're using textbooks that would be equivalent to college level here.

 

Jackie

Edited by Corraleno
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Can anyone recommend texts to be used for this approach?

 

 

Would I use a good text for physical geography, biology, chemistry and physics and then teach the topics in an arrangement such as Ester Maria outlined from just these four texts?

Yes, if you want to use textbooks this is what I'd do. You can also look at the chapter/unit headings in several standard textbooks and make an outline of the topics you need to cover in each subject, then put together your own curriculum based on the outline. You can group topics together that relate to each other (e.g., cellular biology + genetics + biochemistry; evolutionary biology + historical geology + cosmology, etc.) or you can relate the science topics to history (light/optics + history of astronomy + middle ages; microbiology + history of medicine + the plague, etc.) or just follow your student's interests as they come up and just make sure you've ticked all the boxes by the time they graduate. This is what I'm currently doing, since the textbook route was a bust last year.

 

Jackie

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Thanks Jackie!

 

I guess I was assuming I would have to use textbooks in order to satisfy universities looking at her transcripts but I could supplement. It is such a fine line between following the usual standards to stay in line with what universities want to see and what is often best for the student.

 

 

 

Supplemental or textbook recommendations would be very welcome...

 

Thanks so much!:001_smile:

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Thank you both! This is very interesting. So how would this look on a schedule? Would you call the Mon. class Biology, Wed. class Chemistry and the Fri. class Physics (for example). This would combine the total of 3-4 years of science (the 4th being for physical geography) but divided up so that you are studying some topics from each subject each year? Do you think American colleges would accept this idea on a transcript? How would this work with taking subject tests, etc?

 

Thank you! This is very interesting and I know my dd would love this idea.

 

I think on the transcript it doesn't matter. The SAT/ACT scores pretty much back up or disprove the "mama" grades. Hope that makes sense. ;)

 

ETA: Thanks for the thread! I can no longer beat myself up for taking too long in Biology. I loved teaching it and loved the experiments/labs. But took way too long on certain topics. We're finishing up last year's Biology and doing (Intro) Physics at the same time. And I am incorporating Earth Science with Geography too. (No textbook) I also plan to finish Biology by Spring 2011 along with (Intro) to Chemistry. Son hopefully will do Chemistry by Fall 2011. I feel better! :D

Edited by tex-mex
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I couldn't help myself, this thread led me to Galore Park to see what Galore Park's science looks like. It doesn't appear to cover as much as the pathway that Ester graciously posted, but it is definitely a bit different ("a little of this, a little of that") than what I'm used to seeing in an American science curriculum. No?

http://www.galorepark.com/product/home_schoolers/999/junior-science-book-3.html

 

What a great thread!

 

Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information.

Edited by cjbeach
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This science thread interested me because I am not a science or math person. However, I do recognize what works/connects/interests/resonates with my children. We have tried several popular textbooks. Our children found them easy and predictable. After they understood what they needed to do to earn good grades on the tests, the rest of the course was a wash. Dd doesn't have the math for physics or chemistry, and she is not enthusiastic about science. Even though she is a creative and inquistive person, science is another box to check. Most of the experients require her to recreate an experiment, which seems pointless to her.

 

Sorry, I have taken this in another direction, but after looking at various approaches for history/literature, I have now moved on to science.

 

Bonita

 

I appreciate this thread! Apparently I'm not totally nuts here. :) I've decided to mix all the sciences together this year, with a lot of hands-on supplies. My kids aren't going into science related fields, but I want them to know the basics in all the areas. As I've started the plans for biology, chemistry and physics, I've seen that there are lots of overlaps, so I figure why not just do it once for all. We can head into kitchen chemistry or botany, etc. while we're doing the studying. I'm thinking emphasizing science will be a good switch from having history for our basis.

Edited by Tina
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I think some people may be confusing 2 different approaches here: studying several sciences sequentially within one year, and studying several sciences simultaneously each year. The typical "integrated sciences" course in the US generally uses a single textbook that provides a few chapters on each of the sciences: a few chapters on basic physics followed by some basic chemistry, then basic biology, and finally a bit of earth/space science. It's a single course, and the different sciences are studied in sequence. That's very different from the typical UK approach of having separate classes in physics, chemistry, and biology throughout the entire school year, with each course taught by a different teacher using a different textbook. E.g. at age 15 DH's course line-up might have looked like this: Math, English, Latin, German, History, Art, Physics, Chemistry, Biology. The science texts they use would be equivalent to HS level here. After the age of 16, students specialize in certain areas in preparation for A-level exams and at that point they're using textbooks that would be equivalent to college level here.

 

Jackie

 

For a contemporary example, Calvin's class line up at school this year is: English, maths, physics, chemistry, history, geography, Latin, French and Mandarin, with a few non-academic things as well. He would normally be studying biology as well, but has already done the first two years of high school work in that subject and passed the exam (just because we were home educating and thought it would be good to do). Mandarin fits into the biology slot in his timetable.

 

When he reaches sixteen he will start working on the International Baccalaureate diploma (equivalent to US AP exams). He will need to continue to study at least one science (from bio, chem, phys) in depth from age 16-18

 

Laura

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I couldn't help myself, this thread led me to Galore Park to see what Galore Park's science looks like. It doesn't appear to cover as much as the pathway that Ester graciously posted, but it is definitely a bit different ("a little of this, a little of that") than what I'm used to seeing in an American science curriculum. No?

http://www.galorepark.com/product/home_schoolers/999/junior-science-book-3.html

 

What a great thread!

 

Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information.

 

The 'middle school' UK science puts everything into one book but in separate chapters - you would normally have one science teacher for everything. For 'high school' in the UK, you would have three separate text books, like this, normally with specialist teachers.

 

Laura

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For a contemporary example, Calvin's class line up at school this year is: English, maths, physics, chemistry, history, geography, Latin, French and Mandarin, with a few non-academic things as well. He would normally be studying biology as well, but has already done the first two years of high school work in that subject and passed the exam (just because we were home educating and thought it would be good to do). Mandarin fits into the biology slot in his timetable.

 

Laura, What is the weekly schedule like? Does he have each of those classes every day? How much time for classes, and how much for study at home?

 

I'm guessing they aren't every day and I'm curious how many time/week and how much study time outside of class. This is such an eye opener. For me anyhow. :)

 

Thanks!

Edited by Rhea
Added a thought. :)
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We just switched to this system. I was complaining to DH that studying biology all year seemed to be ruining DS12's passion for biology, and DS was complaining that I was always saying "no, we can't study that now, that's scheduled for X grade." DH said "I've never understood why Americans only study one science per year, — do you do that with other subject areas?" I realized that no, we don't study grammar one year and literature the next and spelling the year after that, so why should we only study one branch of science per year? DH was raised in the UK and, as Laura mentioned, they do bio/physics/chem every year.

 

The way I've started doing it is to break up each science subject into separate units, like evolution/genetics/cells/botany/etc for bio, light/heat/mechanics/etc for physics, solar system/stars/cosmology/history of astronomy, etc. and we mix and match units as interests arise. We're currently doing astronomy and biology, focusing on the solar system & history of astronomy for the former, and arthropods and cells for the latter. We'll also be adding in some chemistry from Kitchen Chemistry and Caveman Chemistry, some physics from the Gurstelle books (Backyard Ballistics, etc.), and some geology (DS attends 2 one-week, intensive, adult-level paleo courses every year).

 

DS is in 7th now, but I plan to continue like this through 10th, by which point he will have covered the same info he would have gotten if he'd been doing one subject per year. Then he'll start taking science classes at CC — continuing to do several sciences simultaneously.

 

Jackie

 

Jackie, what resource are you using for Kitchen Chemistry?

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The 'middle school' UK science puts everything into one book but in separate chapters - you would normally have one science teacher for everything. For 'high school' in the UK, you would have three separate text books, like this, normally with specialist teachers.

 

Laura

 

Similarly, the Grade 9 and 10 texts, Biology Matters, Chemistry Matters and Physics Matters found at

http://www.singaporemath.com/Science_Matters_s/128.htm

are meant to be used concurrently.

 

Ruth in NC

Edited by Ruth in NC
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At least one mom mentioned that her student disliked dragging one science through an entire year. Why not condense high school textbooks to one semester, which more approximates the pacing at college? Most high school texts are about 1/2 the length of a college text. If the student is strong academically and has completed Algebra I by 9th grade, it seems to me they could work through a typical high school text in a 1/2 year instead of a full year, which means they would complete their high school sequence (biology,chemistry, physics) by 10th grade. Then, they would be ready for college-level science and working in fully equipped labs or AP courses. I think the idea of simultaneous sciences is intriguing, but if providing challenge or dragging out the material for strong students is an issue, then it seems that one of the goals should be to get them moving into college courses as soon as possible.

 

I've been thinking about the issue of pacing quite a bit as we get ready to enter high school. Only one of our homeschooled sons went on to college, but I can use his experiences to evaluate our homeschool. I think we did a good job of prepping him for college except in two areas; i.e. pacing and writing. Many of his profs completed entire textbooks (unlike the experiences related on other threads), so they were flying through those books. Ds could have used more work with reading and taking notes at a clip. Also, the turnaround time for papers was short, and since he was often working on multiple papers. He should have been written many, many short essays combined with research papers (as SWB suggests).

 

Btw, is it possible to buy teacher materials for AP textbooks (science or history)? I think I could work with a history textbook without teacher materials, but would not feel comfortable with science. One of our sons ran into difficulties with a set of Caltech physics books. We didn't have the Teacher Materials, only partial AK.

 

Bonita

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  • 55% of Ph.D. students in engineering in the United States are foreign born (2004).[1]

  • Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Ph.D. scientists and engineers employed in the United States who were born abroad has increased from 24% to 37%.[1]

  • 45% of Ph.D. physicists working in the United States are foreign born (2004).[1]

  • 80% of total post-doctoral chemical and materials engineering in the United States are foreign-born (1988).[2]

 

 

These numbers made me curious because I know that here in Switzerland there is a paucity of engineers and they have to import them. I found these numbers in one article...

 

According to the Federal Statistics Office (of Switzerland), the number of foreigners starting first or bachelor’s degrees increased by around eight per cent per year from 1997 to 2008. By 2008, 19 per cent came from abroad.

 

In addition, foreigners represent 18-20 per cent of master’s degree students and account for nearly half of those in doctorate programmes.

 

At the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, one third of all master’s students and almost two thirds of doctoral students are non-Swiss. Link.

 

But I do not think that either of these situations necessarily mean that the educational system is in ruins. It could be but there are so many factors. Lots of people want to come to the US due to the career possibilities. People want to come to Switzerland because the education is cheap and the wages are good (though it is hard to stay even if you were a student). How many students from the US would go to S. Korea to study? First you would probably have to know Korean....

 

Eg. the foreigner doctors in the US tend to be from the Indian subcontinent because they speak English, are well educated and want to move to the US where they will probably earn more money.

 

My point is not to dissuade anyone from the simultaneous approach.... It would be interesting to look at the educational systems used by the majority of the foreign students in the US. I just don't think that it is the determining factor in an educational system's success or failure.

 

It also does not mean I'm against studying sciences simultaneously as my own ds is doing Biology and AP Physics in the same school year, but as full courses with all the labs, etc.

 

Joan

Edited by Joan in Geneva
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I've been thinking about the issue of pacing quite a bit as we get ready to enter high school. Only one of our homeschooled sons went on to college, but I can use his experiences to evaluate our homeschool. I think we did a good job of prepping him for college except in two areas; i.e. pacing and writing. Many of his profs completed entire textbooks (unlike the experiences related on other threads), so they were flying through those books. Ds could have used more work with reading and taking notes at a clip. Also, the turnaround time for papers was short, and since he was often working on multiple papers. He should have been written many, many short essays combined with research papers (as SWB suggests).

 

Btw, is it possible to buy teacher materials for AP textbooks (science or history)? I think I could work with a history textbook without teacher materials, but would not feel comfortable with science. One of our sons ran into difficulties with a set of Caltech physics books. We didn't have the Teacher Materials, only partial AK.

 

Thanks for the pacing point!

 

You can get the teacher materials. If you can find them on the publishers website, that is probably the easiest to match the instructor's manual with the student book. It can be difficult with different editions ie, buying the wrong edition of the TE and sometimes it is hard to find the publisher's page for that particular book. If you get the instructor's book first, it will sometimes list the student book's ISBN....For physics and math books, the solution manual is helpful to show how problems have been worked out....

 

Joan

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I do not think that studying the sciences separately vs simultaneously is the main factor in the number of foreign students and professionals in the US, otherwise Switzerland, which uses the simultaneous approach would not have so many foreigners, rather a host of other factors which drive foreigners to seek education and success in these countries.

 

 

Sorry - I did not mean at all to imply that it is the separate vs simultaneously which causes these effects - only that there is something about the K-12 science education which causes this.

I know it is not just economic factors - third world students coming to the US to escape poverty at home - because quite a number of German scientists have chosen to come to the US to work here.

Also, since the burden of proof that there was no American to fill a position is on the employer, it really means that there are not enough Americans qualified for, and interested in, those position - otherwise they would get priority in the hiring.

 

Don't know about Switzerland, though.

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According to the Federal Statistics Office (of Switzerland), the number of foreigners starting first or bachelor’s degrees increased by around eight per cent per year from 1997 to 2008. By 2008, 19 per cent came from abroad.

 

LOL... maybe because they're here skewing our stats... in my younger years I hung out with a bunch of doctoral candidates and post-docs at Harvard and MIT - virtually all were foreign-born; two of them were Swiss.

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Sorry - I did not mean at all to imply that it is the separate vs simultaneously which causes these effects - only that there is something about the K-12 science education which causes this.

I know it is not just economic factors - third world students coming to the US to escape poverty at home - because quite a number of German scientists have chosen to come to the US to work here.

Also, since the burden of proof that there was no American to fill a position is on the employer, it really means that there are not enough Americans qualified for, and interested in, those position - otherwise they would get priority in the hiring.

 

Don't know about Switzerland, though.

 

Hi Regentrude,

 

Yes, when I thought about your post, I decided to edit my post.

 

I think you said that you are German yourself?...there are a lot of Germans who come to Switzerland too. Maybe the scenery and salaries are better?

 

It is curious that there are not enough Americans to fill the posts.

 

Joan

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Hi Regentrude,

 

Yes, when I thought about your post, I decided to edit my post.

 

I think you said that you are German yourself?...there are a lot of Germans who come to Switzerland too. Maybe the scenery and salaries are better?

 

It is curious that there are not enough Americans to fill the posts.

 

Joan

 

Yes, I'm German. We moved to the US because of the messed up German university system; DH got a teaching position here ( and I too).

The salaries in Switzerland are WAY better than in Germany, even if you take into account the higher expense of living. One of my best friends moved there.

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I think you said that you are German yourself?...there are a lot of Germans who come to Switzerland too. Maybe the scenery and salaries are better?

 

My German cousin is a surgeon who has done her residency and is now employed in Switzerland. Her boyfriend is also German (and living in Switzerland - but he works in Liechtenstein!).

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Laura, What is the weekly schedule like? Does he have each of those classes every day? How much time for classes, and how much for study at home?

 

 

Each lesson period is 45 minutes long. School is from 8:50 to 4:15. Home work is about one and a half hours each night on Mon-Thurs and about four hours at weekends, split up into blocks of around 35 minutes by subject.

 

English is five periods a week plus two homework blocks; maths is five periods plus three homework blocks; Latin, history, physics, chemistry and geography are each three periods a week plus two homework blocks; French is four periods and three homework blocks; currently, Mandarin is one lesson a week plus two private study periods in school. He has one period each of comparative religion and personal/social education, and four periods of PE. Each academic course lasts two years.

 

Laura

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LOL... maybe because they're here skewing our stats... in my younger years I hung out with a bunch of doctoral candidates and post-docs at Harvard and MIT - virtually all were foreign-born; two of them were Swiss.

 

So it seems like there should be other statistics examined. Eg. (not a statistic but an example) my son is doing his Bachelors here. But he wants to go to the US or Canada to have a North American educational experience. There are schools with great reputations there, and some people do not think so highly of some European universities. He says that if he would go to Germany for his Masters that the educational experience would be too similar.

 

Another example...a French professor told my cousin's son, who was changing schools to go to Hopkins, that he was glad that the son was getting out of the country and away from the indoctrination of the state in the universities....

 

Actually, I realize now that the percentage of foreigners is only informative if you know for sure that they have replaced a homelander in the application process because their qualifications were better... So have the foreigners replaced American applicants or just increased the student populations of American universities....?

 

So Regentrude, I'm curious about what made you go to the US instead of Switzerland?

 

Matroyshka, I know other German medical students who do their residency here too and wondered if there are not enough residency spots in Germany or is it just the salary issue?

 

Joan

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I haven't read all the replies but here is what we are doing. Yes, we do one official science at a time. Makes it easier for US educational system. What do we really do? Incorporate other sciences as fit and never ignore any science we decided to look at just because it is a different year from that. Let me explain better- this past Spring and summer, we did Earth Science. Well Earth Science draws upon chemistry, biology, and physics along with more traditionally earth science topics as geology, mineralogy, astronomy, and oceanography. I don't see how you can address this subject adequately without the others but do see that there are books that try.

 

This year, we are officially doing physics. That one has less other things to tie in but still I can easily see tying in chemistry when we discuss thermodynamics and tying in anatomy with mechanics. While we officially study physics, we continue to watch shows on other subjects and continue to read articles about the other sciences too.

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So Regentrude, I'm curious about what made you go to the US instead of Switzerland?

 

The exciting physics is done at US universities, DH's research community is pretty much US based - not in Switzerland. It's that simple.

Also, the country is much larger, so there are many more opportunities.

Btw, you can't be really picky- if it takes one hundred applications for a highly qualified applicant to get one single offer for a faculty position, you go where that job is. Not where your dream location would be.

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Actually, I realize now that the percentage of foreigners is only informative if you know for sure that they have replaced a homelander in the application process because their qualifications were better... So have the foreigners replaced American applicants or just increased the student populations of American universities....?

 

There are two kinds of foreign students. Some have their home government paying for tuition - often from countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia etc - so those can be taken in addition. I bet universities love those high paying customers.

The other kind of graduate students requires support through TA or RA jobs which are paid by the department; those slots are obviously limited, and the best applicants are taken. So for those, yes, they would replace less qualified Americans.

 

As for actual jobs, the procedure is very strict. When we hire a foreigner, the department must prove that there was no qualified American applicant, in order to get a work permit for the foreigner. So if there were Americans for, say, faculty jobs, they would have to be hired with priority.

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I have been hoping to have this conversation with someone and of course you guys have it while I'm busy moving and time is at a premium. I still have IHIP to write for the state and school starts next week. :svengo:

 

Anyhow, I've been ruminating on this very subject since I watched the 2 Million Minutes DVD series. Compton follows two American students, two Chinese students and two Indian students and compares their social life, extracurricular activities and their academics. On the DVDs, you can download PDFs of each of their entire high school courses. The Chinese students and Indian students took biology, chem, physics, and comp sci every year starting in 7th grade I believe. My question was how does the scope and sequence compare at the end. Do they cover more content, more deeply, than US students doing one subject per year?

 

My DH and I are both scientists so science just comes up naturally when our kids are young. I started running into issues such as "Oh well I can't fully explain that unless you know some chemistry." So we'd stop and do chemistry. "Oh well I can't fully explain that until we do some physics." So we'd stop and do some physics.

 

WHen I found BFSU by Dr. Nebel, I liked how he intertwined all the disciplines and showed how inter-related they are. Now that my son is a 5th grader, and in light of the breathe vs depth thread and watching 2 Million Minutes, I've really been re-thinking how we will approach science for my science-loving kids. They also really love history so it's tough to fit it all in.

 

WHen I was in graduate school, oh back in the 90s, my graduate school took all the Chinese students which applied b/c a) their gov't paid for them and b) it was thought that the Chinese government would no longer let the students out b/c they weren't returning to China after graduation. So they took all that applied. My entering class and subsequent classes were at least 50% Chinese and that didn't include Indian's etc. I think one class approached 70% Asian. Looking at annual publications recently, it seems the numbers are a bit lower but still Asian's make up a significant number of graduate students. The thing I loved about science was the international nature of it!

 

But a friend of mine, who might pipe in here, said that the US Students at her grad school found it very, very difficult to compete w/ the foreign students in academics.

 

WEll, must get back to unpacking so I can start writing those IHIPs.

 

Great discussion everyone!

 

Capt_Uhura

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At least one mom mentioned that her student disliked dragging one science through an entire year. Why not condense high school textbooks to one semester, which more approximates the pacing at college?

I'm the one who said my son was bored by doing nothing but biology for a year, but our problem was sort of the opposite of what you describe. He would be happy to do biology every year (future biology major), as long as he could work on biology topics that really interested him, and simultaneously study other sciences that interested him. He didn't like having to slog through genetics when what he really wanted to be doing that week was astronomy, or geology, or a chemistry experiment. I had actually scheduled two sciences per year, one each semester, as you suggested, but we were still left slogging through topics he has no interest in right now, and we were rushing through topics he's fascinated by and would love to spend months on, because we needed to get through the text and get onto the next science in the schedule.

 

So now we're doing bits of several sciences simultaneously (including biology), and we're working on topics he's really interested in right now: arthropods, history of astronomy, optics/telescopes, and paleontology, and I'm about to add in some chemistry and physics projects. We're also spending more time on science and less on history/literature, because that's where his interests lie, and I'm trying to make the history more relevant to science as well: history of technology, physics of weapons, etc.

 

Jackie

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Each lesson period is 45 minutes long. School is from 8:50 to 4:15. Home work is about one and a half hours each night on Mon-Thurs and about four hours at weekends, split up into blocks of around 35 minutes by subject.

 

English is five periods a week plus two homework blocks; maths is five periods plus three homework blocks; Latin, history, physics, chemistry and geography are each three periods a week plus two homework blocks; French is four periods and three homework blocks; currently, Mandarin is one lesson a week plus two private study periods in school. He has one period each of comparative religion and personal/social education, and four periods of PE. Each academic course lasts two years.

 

Laura

 

I'm still trying to get a picture of the school day, please tell me if I have this wrong. Homework blocks are outside of school time, as are the private study periods in Mandarin?

 

What do you mean by "Each academic course last two years"?

 

Do kids there do sports teams? Where we live, at the high school level, a sport is 2 hours of practice/day M-F, plus the game time (nights and weekends) and travel to get there (we're a bit remote). Then there are tournaments. I look at your son's schedule and it doesn't seem like there would be time for a sport team. (I'm not implying that's bad, just forming a picture.) My daughter dropped down to 1 sport in high school because of the time demand. It just wasn't possible to do them and put quality effort into her academic subjects too.

 

Thank you for answering my questions. My dd15 and I are enjoying learning about the subjects studied and time spent by others. It's inspiring, and very much "outside the box" thinking for us. It was after reading about the number of languages that Ester Maria's children were studying that I asked my daughter if she'd like to continue Spanish 2 in an informal way this year (that would put her at 3 languages) and it turned out she had been wanting to continue it after all, but hadn't told me because she thought she could only study two languages per year and wanted to learn German. We'll see how it goes.

 

Thanks again,

 

Rhea

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I think the key point that people are missing is that the difference between the US and foreign method of teaching science isn't about whether you study the sciences separately or mix them up each year — the point is that when students are studying physics and chemistry and biology every year, they are actually spending far more time studying science. If you look at the schedule Laura listed for her son, he has 9 periods of science per week, not 5. And I'd be willing to bet that he gets a lot more actual teaching in each period than a typical American high schooler does, because UK schools generally don't tolerate the kind of student behavior that US schools do. And I'd bet that the homework is harder, too. I think in many Asian countries, a student could easily be getting 3x the amount of science study each year that a US student does.

 

By the time a student in the UK is 16, they have done the equivalent of 4 years of "normal" US high school science. From 16-18, if they continue to study science, they will be working at the AP/college level. By the time they complete a bachelor's degree (which is only 3 years in the UK), they'll have the equivalent of an American master's degree, so the last 2 years of "high school" in the UK are basically equivalent to the first 2 years of college here.

 

So the reason foreign students tend to be better at science than American students is because they've spent 2-3x as many hours studying it, not just because they "mix all the sciences together" each year.

 

I apologize if I haven't been explaining this very well! :tongue_smilie:

 

Jackie

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