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Someone, anyone, just tell me what to do and I will do it. I promise!! We just do not "do" it. I want to do it..the kids want to do it....we just don't....please just tell me what to do. :confused::confused::confused::confused: WTM notebooks don't happen. We have such good intentions and we try, but alas, not so much.

My children are (in the fall) 7th grade boy (only mildly interested) and 3rd grade girl (VERY clever and VERY highly motivated) I just can't reinvent the wheel, so I would love to combine at least on some level. Secular would be preferable (though we are Christian). I'll do some experiments. I'll buy extra books. I just need a plan!

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How about Exploration Education Physical Science intermediate (maybe w/ advanced?) for the 7th grader along w/ a Physical Science text such as Prentice Hall for further reading. There is an Exploration Education for younger kids as well but I haven't looked it. It's done on the computer. All the supplies come in a kit.

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I just got a catalog from Home Science Tools. We spent the weekend drooling over it. You could do the same, and let your dc pick some kits that they would be excited about.

 

Mine are a little younger than yours (5th, 2nd and 1st), but here's what I think we will do. I've given up on following WTM recommendations for a year-long course of study. We get too bored with one subject to stick to it for a full year. I bought RS4K chemistry (level 1 and pre-level 1 for my kids). I'm expecting that we will get through it this summer. If we still like chemistry, I will buy a kit or two and play around with chemistry until we get bored. When we're ready to move on, I'll start looking into biology. If it turns out that I like RS4K, I'll move on to their biology program. Otherwise, I may end up just buying some more kits...

 

I'm tired of hunting for science programs. I've dropped 4 science programs in the last 2.5 years. I'm at the point where I think we just need to have fun with science-y things, and not worry about formal programs until high school.

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Notebooking doesn't happen with my kids, either. They both like Nancy Larson Science, it has been easy to combine with a 4th and 6th grader. There is some hands on with every lesson, but nothing so onerous that would make you not want to do it. We're doing Level 2 this year, and Level 3 next year.

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A secular option would be to get some of the Science Explorer books (they have 15 or so on different topics) and get one or two Science in a Nutshell minikits to go with each book. Read the section, answer the questions at the end. Every so often do an activity from the Nutshell. You could have them or just your older child write about something they have learned every few weeks as well. Add in a few library books and you're good to go. I did this with the Science Explorer earth science books this year and it was completely painless.

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RS4K Chemistry level 2 (grades 7-9) is on sale right now because she is revising the book and making it for high schoolers instead. I am planning on using that with my 7th grader next year. I think I figured I could get it all for around $50 with shipping, so it's pretty inexpensive, and although level 2 still has only 10 chapters, they are pretty lengthy. I think it will take most of the year.

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Since you've tried various things and the problem is just not getting around to it, I would say Science Co-op and pay for it in advance :) If there is none in your area, call museums, nature preserves and observatories and set something up for your homeschool group. If there are no museums in your area, sign up with an online science program. Science camp during the summer too. Regardless, pay in advance and I promise you'll follow through.

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I was a scientist in a previous life and this is how I do science for my kids:

 

I use the WTM rotation: biology, earth/space, chemistry, physics.

 

1) For 8 months we read some good library books, and watch good documentaries (3 times a week) on the subject.

 

2) We do an intensive 6 weeks science fair project once a year. The goal of this is to find a questions, a real question, one that neither you nor your kids know the answer to. Then, figure out how to answer it, and go do your experiments. Then write it up. Including methods, results (graphs), discussions (assumptions, what you learned etc). This takes 5-10 hours per week during the time period.

 

Pros to this method:

1. No running around organizing experiments every week which are actually just demonstrations, as we know what the answer will be. ( If the kids want to explore and be creative and have fun they can go outside and build a fort)

2. Having a real science experience, with true frustrations (there will be many, like a home-made kite that would not fly for a month - that takes problem solving), and a decent length of time.

3. Being able to discuss real scientific method problems. Like replication (yes you need >1 plant for each experiment on which type of fertilizer work better; yes, you need to be objective and not drop the silly putty from a higher chair when you think it should bounce higher etc).

4. Doing science that they will remember over the years. (my children can remember 5 years back worth of projects). oldest DS is 10.

 

I have found this method very effective, saves my sanity, and costs little while they are young.

 

Ruth in NZ

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I was a scientist in a previous life and this is how I do science for my kids:

 

I use the WTM rotation: biology, earth/space, chemistry, physics.

 

1) For 8 months we read some good library books, and watch good documentaries (3 times a week) on the subject.

 

2) We do an intensive 6 weeks science fair project once a year. The goal of this is to find a questions, a real question, one that neither you nor your kids know the answer to. Then, figure out how to answer it, and go do your experiments. Then write it up. Including methods, results (graphs), discussions (assumptions, what you learned etc). This takes 5-10 hours per week during the time period.

 

Pros to this method:

1. No running around organizing experiments every week which are actually just demonstrations, as we know what the answer will be. ( If the kids want to explore and be creative and have fun they can go outside and build a fort)

2. Having a real science experience, with true frustrations (there will be many, like a home-made kite that would not fly for a month - that takes problem solving), and a decent length of time.

3. Being able to discuss real scientific method problems. Like replication (yes you need >1 plant for each experiment on which type of fertilizer work better; yes, you need to be objective and not drop the silly putty from a higher chair when you think it should bounce higher etc).

4. Doing science that they will remember over the years. (my children can remember 5 years back worth of projects). oldest DS is 10.

 

I have found this method very effective, saves my sanity, and costs little while they are young.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

Ruth, I love this method! Now how do you and your kids come with a question to answer? I think this may be exactly what we need to stretch our thinking a bit. Thinking....

 

Susie

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I was a scientist in a previous life and this is how I do science for my kids:

 

I use the WTM rotation: biology, earth/space, chemistry, physics.

 

1) For 8 months we read some good library books, and watch good documentaries (3 times a week) on the subject.

 

2) We do an intensive 6 weeks science fair project once a year. The goal of this is to find a questions, a real question, one that neither you nor your kids know the answer to. Then, figure out how to answer it, and go do your experiments. Then write it up. Including methods, results (graphs), discussions (assumptions, what you learned etc). This takes 5-10 hours per week during the time period.

 

 

 

I LOVE this! I was a scientist long ago, and all the science programs I've used (and discarded) had me wondering of I really ever did like science. How do you pick your books? Do you have a booklist? Or a framework of topics within each yearlong subject?

 

ETA: do you have your children do separate projects, or is it a group effort?

 

Thanks so much for speaking up!

Edited by bonniebeth4
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For my younger kids (almost 9 and almost 6) we follow the Core Curriculum guidelines for a spine, using lots of living books, and doing a smaller experiment every 1-2 weeks from the various science books we have lying around. We printed lab sheets from some website, so they need to write up their materials, their hypothesis, their method and their results.

 

I do like the idea of doing a "bigger" experiment a few times a year, and I think that's what we'll do next year.

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What I have started doing with my kids (ages 10 and 8) is following the WTM rotation (somewhat) but doing it lightly and covering each area in the same year. What I mean is this: right now we are doing earth science. We will do this for about 1-2 months. We are studying the structure of the earth right now. This is very loosely done. I mean maybe we do a few readings a week. Maybe we miss a week. We got lots of books from the library and off our own shelves. We have been watching Planet Earth. I have a great website we can go to, too. Tomorrow we are going to make edible models of the earth.

 

Next week (probably) we will move onto plate tectonics. Same approach. Toward the end of the month we will cover taking care of the earth (as Earth Day is April 22). Obviously we will not do a complete earth science year this way. It is just enough to learn a bit, have some fun, spark some interest. Then we move on (unless they want to stay with it.)

 

We will cover Biology, Chemistry, and Physics this way, though I am sure there will be many rabbit trails (one ds is very interested in air and space, the other wants to do more with botany).

 

I recently decided on this approach for a few reasons:

1) Full year programs didn't work well for us, because one topic for that long got a bit boring. Also, I found it harder to find time for their interests since they both really wanted different science programs (younger ds wanted biology and older ds chemistry). I tried to do both programs at the beginning of this year and we fizzled out (or at least I did).

 

2) At their ages I really only feel they need to have the flame of interest in science lit. I don't think they really need to "learn" any subject in science at this point. I want them to be interested and enjoy it.

 

3) It is loose enough that we actually do it.

 

4) I find what interests them/us and add fun stuff to it.

 

5) I have actually found this much easier than following a program.

 

6) If we don't do a notebook or fill in pages, I don't feel like we failed.:)

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Where do I find the Core Curriculum guidelines? Would the World Book Typical Course of Study be compairable?

 

 

It's right here (bear in mind it's large). It's a useful "guide" to keep us on track, and it's easy to find books on each subject. I don't know if the World Book would be comparable.

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Something that I have never seen mentioned on these boards (maybe I just missed it), but that we had success with this year, is Academy of Science for Kids. I found them last year at FPEA, and while I was there two of the most 'sciencey' moms I know raved highly about them.

They sell kits. In the kits are 12 expirements, each with everything you need for each expirement separated out into little zip lock bags. And when I say everything, I mean everything. We just did one on electricity, and they even included salt and pepper packets needed for an expirement, a little set of screwdrivers needed for another. Really everything, but maybe something like water.

There is a science journal/notebook included that gives instructions and asks them questions as they are conducting the expirement. Often they'll have you diagram what you have done.

My only negative is that while they guide the child to make their own conclusions, this non science mom would like a little bit more explanation on each topic.(ie. a few paragraphs to read on the topic). They do however, include a Discovery Science website subscription with each kit(I really don't know if this would cost anything by itself) and they are encouraged to watch videos etc. from the site to learn more info. I did not take advantage of that as much as I would have liked because I found that site to be a little difficult to navigate.

We did one kit in the fall, and one in the spring. And while we didn't spend as much time on science as I would have liked, at least I feel that I did something this year and could cross it off my list. And my son (10) did it on his own as much as possible. With your girls' ages they could probably easily do these independently.

Oh, and one more thing. After they finish each kit they can go online and take a test and earn credits for prizes in their prize store. (the negative--you still have to pay shipping)

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answers to different questions:

I personally plan to do this method through 8th grade at least.

 

you can do personal projects or a family project. both work, but I do find that a child takes pride in their own work.

 

To find a questions, you first need to have an interest in a topic. Lets say mushrooms (my son's first project).

 

1. we read about them

2. We explored the topic with ideas from books.We went outside and started to identify a few. We did a spore print. We made some bread and some ginger beer. We got out a microscope and looked at some stuff. We got some bread to get moldy.

3. As a child gets more and more info, they develop ideas. My son decided he wanted to figure out what was the most common mushroom in his neighborhood woods. Ok, now we have a question.

4. Make a plan to answer the questions. What does "most common" mean? the greatest number? the greatest range? etc

5. collect data. How long do you collect it? what happens when not all mushrooms are out at the same time? survey for 4 weeks. Draw a map of where you go. describe how to make a data collection booklet, take photos, discuss why you put a coin in each photo.

6. run into problems: mushrooms cluster and they are all reproductive structures off of the same fungus under the ground or in a tree. If you have 50 mushrooms spread out evenly over the woods, and 1 tree with 100 mushrooms on it, obviously the 50 is more common. However, it is not always so clear. Define cluster. Make a clear definition. 2 meter spaced counts as a different cluster. count clusters not number? or do both and make 2 different graphs (which we did). Discuss how to count a HUGE number of mushrooms by taking small plot and counting, and then determining how many small plots are in the big plot.

7. Start analyzing the data, talk about which type of graph is appropriate. talk about what data to leave out. Make tables.

8. write up intro, methods, results, discussion. Discuss assumptions, problems, cluster definitions etc.

9. Make a poster, discuss layout, discuss what the audience needs to make things clear.

10. practice a presentation, many times.

11. present at the science fair

12 deconstruct the poster, and make it up into a clearfile for a keepsake.

 

rest.....

 

My son was 7 when he did this project. The only thing that was really difficult was the write up, and I helped him quite a bit by typing up his narration and helping to shorten it for a poster.

 

This project took 10 weeks start to finish.

 

If this is helpful, I can write up another one.

 

ruth in NZ

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Something that I have never seen mentioned on these boards (maybe I just missed it), but that we had success with this year, is Academy of Science for Kids. I found them last year at FPEA, and while I was there two of the most 'sciencey' moms I know raved highly about them.

They sell kits. In the kits are 12 expirements, each with everything you need for each expirement separated out into little zip lock bags. And when I say everything, I mean everything. We just did one on electricity, and they even included salt and pepper packets needed for an expirement, a little set of screwdrivers needed for another. Really everything, but maybe something like water.

There is a science journal/notebook included that gives instructions and asks them questions as they are conducting the expirement. Often they'll have you diagram what you have done.

My only negative is that while they guide the child to make their own conclusions, this non science mom would like a little bit more explanation on each topic.(ie. a few paragraphs to read on the topic). They do however, include a Discovery Science website subscription with each kit(I really don't know if this would cost anything by itself) and they are encouraged to watch videos etc. from the site to learn more info. I did not take advantage of that as much as I would have liked because I found that site to be a little difficult to navigate.

We did one kit in the fall, and one in the spring. And while we didn't spend as much time on science as I would have liked, at least I feel that I did something this year and could cross it off my list. And my son (10) did it on his own as much as possible. With your girls' ages they could probably easily do these independently.

Oh, and one more thing. After they finish each kit they can go online and take a test and earn credits for prizes in their prize store. (the negative--you still have to pay shipping)

 

As of May 1st their website says they are offering a free subscription to Discovery Education Science (which I think is around $100/year).

 

I am going to email them and find out how long the Discovery Science subscription is for.

 

It could turn out to be a great deal.

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Ruth,

I copied and pasted your first post into a word doc to print and keep. I am calling it Science the Sane Way. :D It seems so much more simple and doable. And I totally get what you were saying about most experiments are really just demonstrations. My kids will often ask why they have to do the experiment because they can just finish reading about it in the book or the book has already told them what will happen. After reading your post I realized that my kids (mostly my son) already "do science" the sane way. He is always researching stuff on the internet that is of interest to him. He has spent the last to days experimenting with hooking up a small speaker that he took out of a metronome and has wired it and hooked it up to his sister's ipod.

 

Well, actually the reason for my post was to say thank you and to see if you could answer a few questions.

I was wondering if there was a way that you could do this all the way through high school?

Could you take a high school science course you are already using (apologia) and do it in this way? What might that look like? Especially if you have to have a lab science for you high school requirements?

 

Thank you so much!

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You could definitely do this through high school. The main problem is that your child would not have experience with all of the aparatus that most lab sciences use in a year, because you would be going in depth instead of doing breadth. For me as a scientist (PhD Biology), I would absolutely definitely prefer to see a teen with a 3-month intensive "real" science project rather than a year worth of 1 hour "cook-book" labs done each week. But that is me, and I am not a university. My son is 10 so I have yet to research that option with the universities.

 

But let me be clear, a "real" project would include all of the areas mentioned in my detailed second post. Dabbling for 3 months on something interesting is really only going to step 1 -- delving into a topic. To make it "real", you MUST do the next steps of writing a question that is answerable, designing an experiment, collecting data, solving problems, analyzing data, graphing, and writing up your results including a discussion on assumptions and difficulties etc. Science is about order and logic. All scientists must dabble to have enough knowledge to find a question, but then you use the scientific method to answer it, which is what the lab portion of science is all about.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Ruth in NZ

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Oh, I forgot to answer questions about which books I choose. I use the WTM approach generally. For the logic stage, I try to pick 3 serious science books for each year. The good ones are usually in the library anyway, so I buy few. My son is a math and science type, so these books are first year High School Level texts. There are 4 terms in a school year in NZ, so he reads 3 books in 3 terms and then a science project in the 4th term.

 

This year my son is doing biology. As he has watched all, and I mean all of the david attenborough docos, he has a very clear understanding of ecology and animal diversity. So for the logic stage, I went looking for holes I needed to fill: cell bio, genetics, human physiology. He read The Way Life Works (cell bio) and the Cartoon Guide to Genetics, and for Human physiology we used the best library book we could find.

 

Next year, he will study Astronomy and Earth Science. Since last rotation we did a lot of geology and meoterology, this year he will study Oceanography, Environment Science, and Astronomy. He will read Cosmos by Sagan and the easiest of the Stephen Hawking books for astronomy. There is an oceanography book in the library (quite thick so we will have to pick out a few chapters to read), and not sure yet about Environmental Science.

 

Chemistry: probably Conceptual Chemistry

Physics: probably Conceptual Physics.

 

For documentaries, the good ones are put out by BBC and the History Channel (Modern marvels). There are heaps in the library in the adult section and of course on netflicks. Otherwise just ask on the board, and typically people will answer with the good ones. NOT all documentaries are of equal value!!! My children watch 1 doco every day in either history or science (they rewatch their favorites over and over). Their knowledge is amazing as the 10 year old started when he was 5. That is a lot of docos!

 

Good luck,

 

ruth in NZ

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Ruth,

 

Just to make sure I'm understanding you, are you saying that you would use one high school text book in one term or over the course of the whole year?

 

For instance we have Apologia textbook for my 2 oldest and I can't imagine finishing that in less than a whole school year. If we weren't doing the experiments as we went then of course we could finish up maybe two months early leaving time for the science fair type project but there's no way we could get another high school text in there.

 

My kids are not huge fans of science. They love documentaries, Modern Marvels, Good Eats, Nova etc. and talking to their dad about sciency things, my son is always looking up "cool" experiments and stuff on youtube and then he tries to recreate a lot of it at home. But when it comes to "school" science. Blah....no fun! Torture. Therefore we end up not getting much done.

 

My 2 high schoolers are using apologia and do it on their own so they are getting it done. Not really liking it so much but they do it. However, with my 2 middle schoolers it's just not happening. We usually find ourselves doing the reading and then skipping the weekly experiments until I finally force myself to just get it done and have a marathon day of experiments. Again, not really fun.

 

Well, I'm rambling as usual. :) Thank you for answering my questions. Definitely rethinking what we are doing.

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Next year, he will study Astronomy and Earth Science. Since last rotation we did a lot of geology and meoterology, this year he will study Oceanography, Environment Science, and Astronomy. He will read Cosmos by Sagan and the easiest of the Stephen Hawking books for astronomy. There is an oceanography book in the library (quite thick so we will have to pick out a few chapters to read), and not sure yet about Environmental Science.

 

ruth in NZ

 

Have you watched the Blue Planet documentaries? The education folks at one of our snorkling sites put us on to this. If you get the DVDs, there are several bonus features that are full length documentaries themselves.

 

You might also be interested in Coral Reef Ecology or Sea Turtles: An Ecological Guide These are better than kid books, but still accessable for non-adult readers. Not sure if your library would have them.

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Bizzymom,

 

The books I have listed are NOT textbooks for Biology and Earth/space science. But they are not "living" books either - meaning trying to put science in a story. They are nonfiction, intro, science books for adults and teens that have lots of science explained in a clear way, with lots of beautiful photos and diagrams, and no review questions, tests, homework etc. You can find a HUGE number of them in the library in the adult section, although many are accessible to a much younger crowd. My son reads a few spreads every week, and we discuss when he wants. He typically finishes a book in about 2 months.

 

I am not a huge fan of Apologia because I find it very dry. But I know a lot of people use it.

 

 

Sebastian,

 

My sons have definitely watched the blue planet! It is great!

 

Thanks for the book recommendations, I will go hunt them down in the library.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Ruth, thank you so much for your post. My ds is almost 7, and he would LOVE to do an extended investigation, such as the one you were describing.

 

My question is how would someone who has almost no experience in such a process learn the various methodologies that scientists might use? Your background in biology clearly helped you to help your dc design a real science project. Where could I get a crash course in designing science experiments or investigations? I'm not really talking about just learning the steps of the scientific process. Are there resources that might teach different methodologies for gathering and analyzing data for the different science subjects?

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As for books on methodologies, as I have never had to read one (did lots of that at university), I have never looked for one. So hopefully someone else can answer your question for you.

 

But what I would do is find a science friend to act as a mentor to you and your child. That way, you could run the ideas by someone once a week and get some feedback. I am the head of the science fair here, and I have some homeschoolers who will call and ask me these questions.

 

The big issues you need to CONSTANTLY think about are 1) what are your assumptions? 2) how are you defining x? (especially if you child is using the word "best." What is best? how are you defining it?) Also, when designing an experiment always consider replication, objectivity, and confounding (where 2 variables are being studied concurrently and you don't know which is being affected).

 

Also, please keep in mind when you are doing "real" science, no one, and I mean no one knows the answer anywhere in the world. That is what science is. So you (the adult) WILL be confused and uncertain at some time during the process. You will need to look things up, you will need to ponder, you will need ask a friend. This takes time. But it is a process that a child needs to see and experience. Scientists don't just design an experiment and say here is the answer. It is NEVER so tidy. I had a friend who wanted to study kit fox in Death Valley. He spent a SUMMER in Death Valley (yes one of the hottest places on earth) and caught 2 fox in 3 months. Project over.

 

My son did a science fair project on kites and the aerodynamics of flight at age 10. YIKES. I am not a physicist and I will tell you I did not have a clue. But, ok I will give it a go. 4 weeks later, we still did not have a flying kite, the science fair was in 6 weeks, and we had not even started the experimental part of altering different parts of the bridal and flight height etc. What was wrong? We tried everything it seemed - changing the materials of the kite, changing the way we launched it, changing what wind speed we flew it at, every single thing we could think of. And of course the kite kept breaking when it would crash instead of fly. So we had to reconstruct it over and over and over. And I kept saying the the Wright brothers took 4 years of long hard work and their own money to get an airplane to fly (my son had just done a report on them, which sparked his interest in this project). The lessons every day seemed to be about persistence. Edison tried 2000 different filaments before he got a working light bulb. Persistence. And I kept thinking, how are we going to get this done in time? Then, we just happened to run across the issue of the wind shadow. The height of a tree will disrupt the air flow across a field for 10 times the height of the tree. The field we were using was HUGE, but long in the wrong direction for the regular wind direction so that all of it was in a wind shadow. The kite would not fly because the wind was turbulent. We changed fields. The kite flew. WOW! What a lesson to a budding scientist. I don't think he will ever forget it.

 

Remember, *I* did not ever know the answer. We had to muddle through. This is real science. Not easy, but real.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Ruth

Thank you for all the time you have put into answering my questions. I really appreciate it.

I am relieved to find out that my children don't have to go through 3 high school textbooks in a year to do what you are doing. :D

My children really struggle w/ apologia. I think for someone who is already very science minded they may enjoy it more. I think my kids would more enjoy books from the library like you're talking about.

Thanks!

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Ack! OK, I didn't read all the posts, but if you're having a hard time making science happen in your home, I doubt you're going to pull off the commitment needed to follow WTM. Just sayin'. I mean no offense at all. I am the same way when it comes to science. The ONLY way I have found science to consistently happen in our school is using independent programs my dc could complete mostly on their own.

 

My advice? Get a Sonlight science program for each, or combine them in one. SL gives you age ranges, perhaps there is one they could both use. It has living books, a SCHEDULE that is easy to follow each day/week and not at ALL overwhelming. Labs with Lab DVDs, etc.

 

I'm just thinking that if you can't get science to happen in your school, give them a program they can own and do on their own. Make it happen.

 

My two cents...for what it's worth. ;)

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Melissa, if you are referring to my post about the kites and how messy it was, that IS science. I am not having trouble pulling off science, I am having my children DO science. Real science is messy. Not difficult, just not straight forward with all the answers laid out for you in a tidy little booklet. That is my point. I am not trying to suggest it is hard, I am trying to explain what "real" science looks like.

 

This thread started because some children find it boring to do an "experiment" where they know the answer, and some parents (like me) find it exhausting to do science labs every week. I was simply explaining that I use an alternative - a 6-week science fair project. There are pros and cons to both.

 

In my eyes science can break down into the classical mindset:

Grammar stage: demonstrations like the son light videos your referred to

Logic stage: analysis, experimentation, lab write ups

Rhetoric stage: Scientific inquiry with all that I have described in my past posts. This can be done through formal labs or with a science fair project. there are pros and cons to each.

 

My son's kite project was a high school level project -- he is advanced in science, so I would not suggest that others should do something that difficult for a logic stage project. However, some logic level projects we have done include: Which fertilier is the best? What is the most common mushroom in the woods? How do you make the best silly putty? Can I predict the weather using cloud formations only? These are relatively straight forward, but you will still have hiccups and that is to be expected, and in fact desired. Because if your science project go along perfectly with no problems, the child has actually learned the wrong lesson. Because a perfect project DOES NOT EXIST!

 

What I have come to believe is that a lot of hands-on science is actually science history. It has been done in the past, and your child is learning about previous discoveries. There is a difference between knowledge of facts in chemistry (for example) and the scientific method. Science is a form of inquiry which applies formal and structured logic processes to complex problems. Because the mode of inquiry is agreed, it means that you can rely on the proven findings of other scientists, and push the boundary of knowledge forward.

 

Not all children will be scientists, but it is important that they understand that scientists don't just hand you an answer to a question. It takes long, hard work. If you don't want to do it yourself (which I can understand), then read some decent biographies of scientists to help your children truly understand what science it about.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Someone, anyone, just tell me what to do and I will do it. I promise!! We just do not "do" it. I want to do it..the kids want to do it....we just don't....please just tell me what to do. :confused::confused::confused::confused: WTM notebooks don't happen. We have such good intentions and we try, but alas, not so much.

My children are (in the fall) 7th grade boy (only mildly interested) and 3rd grade girl (VERY clever and VERY highly motivated) I just can't reinvent the wheel, so I would love to combine at least on some level. Secular would be preferable (though we are Christian). I'll do some experiments. I'll buy extra books. I just need a plan!

 

 

Actually, this thread started because the OP said that they just don't do science.:lol:

 

The comment was made that perhaps in this instance, a more scripted or generic approach is best to cover the topic.

 

Either way, well actually all ways mentioned, are very good approaches. :D

 

Now let's all hug;)

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Melissa,

 

I reread your post, and I don't think you were referring to my post about the kites. I guess I need to get that cup of morning coffee. :glare:

 

Anyway, it did give me the motivation to really think about some of my ideas and try to express them.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Melissa,

 

I reread your post, and I don't think you were referring to my post about the kites. I guess I need to get that cup of morning coffee. :glare:

 

Anyway, it did give me the motivation to really think about some of my ideas and try to express them.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Get the coffee, LOL

 

FWIW, I love your idea.:tongue_smilie:

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Melissa, if you are referring to my post about the kites and how messy it was, that IS science. I am not having trouble pulling off science, I am having my children DO science. Real science is messy.<snip>

 

No, Ruth, not at all. I honestly only read the first page of posts and I don't don't recall anything about kites.

 

When I read the OP's post I read that she does not get to science. That it just does not happen. And then I saw a post about following WTM...was that yours? Don't know :confused:...and then I posted. That's it. In my experience, if one does not get to science, it's because one needs something simple and straightforward that will daily help them get the job done. Not something they have to plan out themselves. That's all I was saying. Nothing more, nothing less. ;)

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Melissa,

 

I reread your post, and I don't think you were referring to my post about the kites. I guess I need to get that cup of morning coffee. :glare:

 

Anyway, it did give me the motivation to really think about some of my ideas and try to express them.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

:lol: We must have been posting at the same time.

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  • 1 month later...
I was a scientist in a previous life and this is how I do science for my kids:

 

I use the WTM rotation: biology, earth/space, chemistry, physics.

 

1) For 8 months we read some good library books, and watch good documentaries (3 times a week) on the subject.

 

2) We do an intensive 6 weeks science fair project once a year. The goal of this is to find a questions, a real question, one that neither you nor your kids know the answer to. Then, figure out how to answer it, and go do your experiments. Then write it up. Including methods, results (graphs), discussions (assumptions, what you learned etc). This takes 5-10 hours per week during the time period.

 

Pros to this method:

1. No running around organizing experiments every week which are actually just demonstrations, as we know what the answer will be. ( If the kids want to explore and be creative and have fun they can go outside and build a fort)

2. Having a real science experience, with true frustrations (there will be many, like a home-made kite that would not fly for a month - that takes problem solving), and a decent length of time.

3. Being able to discuss real scientific method problems. Like replication (yes you need >1 plant for each experiment on which type of fertilizer work better; yes, you need to be objective and not drop the silly putty from a higher chair when you think it should bounce higher etc).

4. Doing science that they will remember over the years. (my children can remember 5 years back worth of projects). oldest DS is 10.

 

I have found this method very effective, saves my sanity, and costs little while they are young.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

I think I love you.

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A secular option would be to get some of the Science Explorer books (they have 15 or so on different topics) and get one or two Science in a Nutshell minikits to go with each book. Read the section, answer the questions at the end. Every so often do an activity from the Nutshell. You could have them or just your older child write about something they have learned every few weeks as well. Add in a few library books and you're good to go. I did this with the Science Explorer earth science books this year and it was completely painless.

:iagree:

 

And you can use Tops or Gems kits too.

 

You don't have to notebook. Just get to reading - keep a log. Watch videos too. :) It can be that easy.

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I was a scientist in a previous life and this is how I do science for my kids:

 

I use the WTM rotation: biology, earth/space, chemistry, physics.

 

1) For 8 months we read some good library books, and watch good documentaries (3 times a week) on the subject.

 

2) We do an intensive 6 weeks science fair project once a year. The goal of this is to find a questions, a real question, one that neither you nor your kids know the answer to. Then, figure out how to answer it, and go do your experiments. Then write it up. Including methods, results (graphs), discussions (assumptions, what you learned etc). This takes 5-10 hours per week during the time period.

 

Pros to this method:

1. No running around organizing experiments every week which are actually just demonstrations, as we know what the answer will be. ( If the kids want to explore and be creative and have fun they can go outside and build a fort)

2. Having a real science experience, with true frustrations (there will be many, like a home-made kite that would not fly for a month - that takes problem solving), and a decent length of time.

3. Being able to discuss real scientific method problems. Like replication (yes you need >1 plant for each experiment on which type of fertilizer work better; yes, you need to be objective and not drop the silly putty from a higher chair when you think it should bounce higher etc).

4. Doing science that they will remember over the years. (my children can remember 5 years back worth of projects). oldest DS is 10.

 

I have found this method very effective, saves my sanity, and costs little while they are young.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Really super, Ruth! It's so wonderful to read what others are doing especially in this subject. :) So glad I followed this thread! Thanks!

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SaDonna,

 

We have 2 weeks to go to the science fair, an the house is getting a bit high strung. I am in charge of the science fair for Wellington, New Zealand. We will have 250 people in a gymnasium from ages baby to 17. I run the science fair in 2 parts: part 1 for viewing projects (we will have about 50 this year) and part 2 is for science activities. These activities include things like dissections, crystal making, dry ice, plant experiments, and even spaghetti and marshmallow tower making (yes this required 130lbs of spaghetti and 18lbs of marshmallows.) We need tables, and judges, and people collection money, and coffee and tea, and monitors, and the list goes on and on. The point being, it feels really good for someone to ask me about the science, rather than the administration of the science fair! Ok, rant over.

 

I have a son in 1st grade and a son in 5th grade, both doing biology (isn't that handy). The first grader is studying all the minibeasts in our garden (NZ word for yard) and the 5th grader is doing a microscope project. I may not be able to get through all of it in one sitting but here is the start:

 

Week 1 April: science fair is in 10 weeks, better start thinking. My ds(10) loves microbiology and we have borrowed the homeschool microscope for the term. We get out some books from the library on microscopes, and try a slide from water in the frog tank and put it under the microscope. I teach him about how to use the microscope (it is a FANCY microscope, apparently donated from the pathology lab at the hospital when they up-graded a few years ago). He sees a few cool things and starts to read the books from the library.

 

Week 2 April: happen to have a friend over who is a doctor, and he gets really excited about the microscope. I pull out the prepared slides that I bought last year and he looks at a bunch of them for 1.5 hours. He shows my son some of the more unusual features of the microscope that I did not know about and tells him that the highest resolution requires an oil immersion. My son spends the rest of the week looking at the prepared slides.

 

Week 3 April: I give my son a bit of a project to try to tell the difference between a dicot and a monocot cross-section without a book. I tell him to draw some pictures and see if he can find a difference. This is when I realize that our microscope is VERY powerful, and his diagrams are so highly magnified that he does not see the difference between the 2 plant structures. Oh Dear.

 

Week 4 April: I send my son to the ocean (by himself which was the first time, about 10 blocks over the mountain) to get some water. We had gone to a bioblitz at the beach in March and found so much diversity, I figure that there must be some really cool diversity at the microscopic level. He comes home, makes the slide, looks at it under the microscope, and finds NOTHING. yikes. what does that mean? In the same week, he brings a jar and collects some water from a creek near a playground at which we are meeting some homeschoolers, and once again, brings it home and finds NOTHING. humm. I guess that would be good water to drink if we have an earthquake.

 

Week 1 May: Ok, 6 weeks until the science fair. Muddling around is over. What is he going to study?!?! We need to decide pretty quickly. It rains and he collects some water from a ditch about a block away that is usually wet year round. He finds LOTS and LOTS of cool things. But what are they? I have no idea.

 

We go to the library and hunt an hunt for books, there are NONE. And this is a big library. I guess no one is interested in identifying microscopic things, how sad. We come home and look on the internet. YEA! there are some really nice sites. Take a look at photos of little tiny things.

 

Week 2 May: 5 weeks until science fair. The question is decided, "What environment has the most microscopic diversity: frog, ditch, ocean, or creek water?" DS starts to draw pictures of the frog water. He gets really excited by all the stuff he has found. We still don't know what it is.

 

Week 3 May: 4 weeks until science fair. DS starts to try to match the drawings to the photos on the internet. He finds some obvious matches, and learns about the major kingdoms, and phylum that he is likely to find. He realizes that he needs to know how big his drawn organisms are. I find him a nice discussion on the internet which he reads and then we test out the microscope. the first field of vision is 2 mm across the highest power is 1/2 the width of the finest line that you can draw with a pencil!! Wow! He needs to start measuring in microns as mm will not work with lots of decimals. We discuss microns and he measures the size of all the previous organisms that he has drawn. This helps immensely with identification. He writes up his introduction.

 

Week 4 May: 3 weeks until science fair. We discuss methods. How is he going to measure diversity? number of species, number of phylum, how? How is he going to survey a slide - low power, then high power, scanning, random points? how? How will he be consistent? 7 slides each water? where will he pull the water from -- the sediment or the open water or both? Will he survey the same number of slides or will he hunt until he finds nothing new? He makes some decisions and writes up his methods.

 

Now here is where we are with 2.5 weeks to go. We make a time table. What is left? We get out a calendar and put these items on days:

data collection - 10 slides to go plus identification

analysis

graph making

taking photos of study sites and developing

labelling photos and drawings

writing up the results, discussion, and conclusions

make title

lay out poster

glue down poster

prepare presentation

practice presentation

This will take about 15 hours per week to finish.

 

I might add that I do reduce his other work to a bare minimum during the last 3 weeks. He currently is doing math and mandarin and science fair. Just not time for anything else.

 

Wow, this has gotten long. But I enjoyed writing it. If I have time, I will do one for my 1st grader.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Previous science fair projects:

 

1st grade. Biology. What is the most common mushroom in the local woods? (define most common - mushrooms cluster)

 

2nd grade. Earth science. Make weather station, describe local weather. Can I predict if it will rain tomorrow using cloud formations? (define rain - does mist count?)

 

3rd grade. Chemistry. What mix of chemicals makes the best silly putty? (what do you mean by best? - stretch, bounce, etc)

 

4th grade. Physics. How does the angle of attack affect the flight time of a kite depending on the wind speed? (This one I discussed in an previous post, it was an absolute bear to do)

 

5th grade. Biology. What environments have the most microscopic diversity? (how do you define diversity?)

 

Son number 2

 

Kindy4. Biology. What ferns can I find in the local woods?

 

Kindy5. Biology. What fertilizer is the best? (define best, discuss plant growth - height vs breadth)

 

1st grade. Biology. What minibeasts can I find in my garden and what kinds of food attract the different types? (what is a minibeast?)

 

For young kids, Biology is often the easiest. ds#2 wanted to do a project also, so he started younger than ds#1. I do break down their posters and put them into clear files as keep sakes. They are so much fun to look at.

 

My older son is already asking what next year's project on earth science will be on. I am guessing environmental science-- perhaps pollution? I do help guide the ideas if there are none forthcoming.

 

Ruth

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Someone, anyone, just tell me what to do and I will do it. I promise!! We just do not "do" it. I want to do it..the kids want to do it....we just don't....please just tell me what to do. :confused::confused::confused::confused: WTM notebooks don't happen. We have such good intentions and we try, but alas, not so much.

My children are (in the fall) 7th grade boy (only mildly interested) and 3rd grade girl (VERY clever and VERY highly motivated) I just can't reinvent the wheel, so I would love to combine at least on some level. Secular would be preferable (though we are Christian). I'll do some experiments. I'll buy extra books. I just need a plan!

 

How about Singapore MPH and Interactive Science?

 

They're texts and workbooks so when life gets ahead of you you can just keep plugging away at the texts but they're also great as a jumping off point for experiments and extra reading. And they're Singapore so just like math there's that focus on thinking skills and pushing kids a little farther then they think they're able to go.

 

I looked for the perfect approach for years but most the experiment heavy, preperation heavy or under structured approaches seemed to slide through my fingers and we'd finish yet another year without any good science under our belts. Now, with Singapore, I've always got a foundation and the kids often get curious about things they hadn't even given much thought to before so that the unstructured stuff I'd struggled with before comes alive and is much easier to follow through on now.

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Ruth,

 

You brilliantly explained how a science fair project would go over the course of many weeks. I so appreciate you taking the time to do that. Next year our ES Logic Biology has slotted time (not sure how much) for a science fair project, and I can absolutely image what it might look like now. I can really understand, probably for the first time, how the act of discovery leads to scientific questions be asked, analysis, and more of a complete understanding of the subject matter than one would get from a text or just reading it, or even from the 'weekly' science experiments. Of course, we will have some of those too, but I am very excited to delve into this now.

 

One other question. Did you use specific books to help you with how to set up a science fair project? The questions to ask, ideas, etc? I just wondered if there was anything specific that helped the process along for you.

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The only way we get science labs done with any regularity is to do them with other homeschoolers, whether we sign up for someone's lab classes or I put something together. RS4K worked well for us for getting through curricula. The other thing that has worked is having my dc participate in science fairs.

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I am really enjoying reading this thread.

 

Ruth, your posts are excellent and so interesting. What you describe sounds just like what science should be. It has really sparked my interest and I'm going to be thinking about this for some time and trying to incorporate some of this in our science. I'm just not sure how far common sense will get me, or how much science experience you need to really make it work. I wish I knew a scientist IRL - but I don't think I do, at least not well.

 

It is really wonderful to hear about some of the fantastic things homeschool moms and dads are doing with their kids. Really inspiring!!

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SaDonna, I don't have a book to recommend, I wish I did as so many people ask me. IMHO, a child's project is at the level of the common sense of an educated adult who thinks logically. So I think most adults can wing it. Only once they get into high school level projects will you need more than just your wits.

 

One thing I am not sure comes across in my previous posts is that I don't have a plan for any of the research projects. I fly by the seat of my pants. Not only would it be hugely difficult to lay out 4 weeks of exploration activities and then a 6-week project ahead of time, it would not be "real" science. So my approach is simply "make sure you do something everyday on the project." I do have to watch the clock and make sure that they have a question by a certain date, and then I help them make a schedule to keep.

 

How do I help them find a question? Usually, I have an idea of a broad topic that they have not yet studied that should yield a project. So next year for earth science, I am thinking pollution for ds(11). We have not studied pollution before, and we could consider air, water, trash, even microscopic pollution (polyester fibers are pollution). We could even go so far as to do a social sciences project by designing a survey and evaluating people's trash habits. Or we could send away samples for water analysis. Or do something with wind and dust in the air. Or even indoor pollution. Don't really know. But all this coming year, I will be thinking and kicking ideas around with my son. They won't lead anywhere at first, but when it comes time for the exploration phase, he might be more self directed. Then we get library books out with some "science demonstrations" to try, and we will do a few and this will get him thinking. I do think it helps to narrow down the field of earth science to something specific like pollution right away otherwise the exploration phase does not lead to a project because it is too scattered.

 

Be careful not to pick a topic where you cannot do "real" science. I wouldn't pick astronomy for example, because what would he ask that we don't already know? I do find that if you do your study about your local area, it will almost always not be previously done (meaning, you can't look up the answer). People may have published books on mushrooms in NZ, but there are no studies on the most common mushroom in our back woods. I do look through the books we get out of the library and say "hey, this looks cool, should we try a mushroom print?" Or "here are directions for a pitfall trap, do you want to try one?" Besides studying things nearby, you can study personal items, like which type of shoe has the most friction.

 

Sometimes kids just ask questions. "Why are there always so many cars at this light?" At that exact moment, I think "great science fair question." So I start talking about how you would figure it out. I might have a hypothesis, but it is only a hypothesis until I do a formal study and get an answer. So, right then we discuss how could you figure out why there are so many cars. Does the timing of the light rotation change over the day? Are there more cars going in one direction? Should the light really be longer for one road than the other? There are probably more cars during rush hour, but move beyond the obvious. Pick a different time of day. Count the cars over many days (replication). Time the light throughout the day. Record the weather. Perhaps rain is a problem. Call the city council and see if they have any information. Look in the library on traffic planning. Follow the rabbit trails and see where it leads you. But in the end, pick a question, design an experiment or structured observations, and write up your results and the implications.

 

One final thought, having 50 families do this at the same time is wonderful. Kids at playgroup will come up to me and say "I'm studying fungus. It is sooo cool. But my experiment is not working right now." Others come to swimming with their experiment to try on all the kids "does color affect taste?" - green cookies, pink french fries. yuck. So if your area has a science fair, go. If it does not, start one (and then delegate!:001_smile:)

 

Good luck,

 

ruth

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