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Science rotation question

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It seems that having a year of physics, a year of chemistry, a year of biology, etc., is a pretty common approach. I was educated in a British school, hence I'm used to the approach of doing the 3 subjects at the same time, in parallel. So please humour me if these seem like silly questions asking the obvious!


If you have a gap of a couple of years between each encounter with a science, how do you retain all the understanding you worked so hard to cover during the period when you're not studing that science? Is a big chunk of recapping a standard feature? What are the advantages to rotation?

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Well, the first rotation is for exposure and interest. I don't expect a ton of retention. Certain facts are memorized, tho, and easily accessed later.

The second rotation is more meaty, and the third is where we go deep.


There's always review in the later years. However, a year on one subject lets us do more activities and make more connections.


We've only done grammar science and high school science--I haven't homeschooled the logic stage yet! I think it is where the rubber starts hitting the road, tho--I will require a lot more retention. I will say that, in high school, there is a great chance to see the overlap in the sciences. For example, one can't really learn bio without hitting on chem.

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My background is in physics, so I'm going to answer this from that perspective.


From a physics point of view, a lot of what you learn very early on is the same material you learn in college and graduate school. For example, if you start learning Newton's laws of motion in whatever grade, you will see it again in high school physics, and first year college physics. If you go on for a B.S. or Ph.D. in physics, you'll have at least one or two classes as a senior dealing with mechanics and then another graduate level course in mechanics where Newton's laws of motion are explicitly covered. This is in addition to the other courses where it's assumed you know how to apply these principles. For example, you'll do the same sequence with electricity & magnetism which involve forces and consequently Newton's laws are used.


The only difference as you go up the ladder is that math gets more and more involved and the problems get more difficult. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to repeat this sequence every year until the student's mathematical abilities have caught up.


Another good example of this is that in 4th grade, my son will learn about conservation of energy. This principle is the same whether you are in 4th grade or physics graduate school. When I was a physics graduate student, the math was much more intense, but the basic concept was the same as what my son will be learning.


I don't know how British schools are set up and what topics are covered in the sciences or other areas, but it seems like it would be a bit daunting to cover those three major areas of science in parallel. We have a hard enough time trying to get all the other subjects in and I couldn't imagine adding any more on top of it.


In order to try and have my kids remember at least the big picture concepts, I try and ask them questions related to what they are currently learning that ties in with what they have done previously. For example, in chemistry this year, my son learned about hydrogen bonds in water. There are all kinds of questions that tie into other areas of science based on this one concept alone such as explaining why certain bugs can skim across the top, why ice floats rather than sinks, etc. You can tie this into biology as well, by asking questions such as what are the consequences from a biological perspective if ice sank in liquid water instead of floating?

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Just so you know, not everyone here does the science rotation. Some do, or are planning to do, the sciences concurrently as you've experienced. But by asking questions, you'll figure out if the grass is greener or not, lol.



Edited by Rosie_0801
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