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If you were to organize a semi-weekly secular Science class/group, what would you use


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Or how would you begin? I am thinking of doing something like this in the fall. We're likely going to be using either CPO Life Sciences or BFSU. Or maybe both. I could do something based on whichever one was our "non-core". Or we could do sort of "mini science units" focusing on something interesting, with explanations, discussions and experiments/demonstrations.


I am open to ideas! Would love to hear from others.

ETA: And that's my 5000th post!!!!!

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We've been doing a bi-weekly science coop with between 2-4 other families for years and years now.


In the younger years, each family did about 4-session "units" on whatever science topic floated their boat. There wasn't any reading or homework much required between classes, it was mostly in class, hands-on projects. The exception was that 1-2x a year someone assigned a short report/paper for the kids to write with a unit. There were often hand-outs and extra reading to take home for the kids to read as their interest led them. This worked very, very well.


When the kids hit middle school, we switched to CPO (we did Life in 6th grade), and we've done a chapter every 2 weeks - the reading at home, and then the labs at the end together. Each family is responsible for having their kids do the reading, assessments, and skill sheets to whatever level they want. This year (8th) we're doing Physics - I'm having my kids take notes on the chapters, do almost all the skill sheets, the assessments except for the problems (skill sheets have better problem sets), and are taking unit tests. I don't think the other two families are doing as much, but we still meet biweekly for the labs.

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We did something like this last year.


Step 1: Identify goals for class. We decided it would be to feed the kids' love of chemistry, do more experiments with friends (because I wasn't very good at getting them done at home and doing them in a group is more exciting anyway), discuss experiment results and concepts afterwards.


Step 2: Identify materials and resources: The moms each bought different chemicals and lab apparatus when they were on sale. We met in one mom's home and every time we had a class, we brought what we had, safety gloves and goggles included.


Step 3: A few days before every class, we moms would talk to our kids and ask them what they wanted to do the next time and then email each other on the topic or an experiment of interest. We researched YouTube videos featuring the experiment. When we met as a class, we'd watch the video first, making sure the boys were confident about the steps, then we'd replicate the experiment.


We didn't require them to do lab reports. We discussed what happened and why and so on. We also managed to find a retired chemistry tutor to guide us. We'd then look up terminology and anything else we didn't understand in books or on the web. I guess you could say we did it backwards -- experiment first and then look up the concept/ read the book. It worked well for our big picture learners.


This wasn't our core science. To avoid burn out, we didn't do it weekly. It was usually 2x or 3x a month at most.

Edited by quark
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I ran across this site last night while looking for something. It looks like classes geared toward scout groups, etc. The lower price quoted is generally for 25 students. I still think it's sort of pricey, but their ideas look interesting:




They offer quite a few different topics....


I have organized classes around Nutshell kits in past (for geology). I'm using some Nutshells this year for physics work, but adding a lot of other stuff to them to beef them up because I now have eighth graders.


I like the idea of using Ellen McHenry's stuff for groups because she writes it to be used that way. She includes lots of games that can be played in groups, etc. Friendly Chemistry is written that way, too, but is more pricey....


I did a "tree of life" class one year, using something like a Schaffer Publication workbook to help with my outline for the class (I have no idea now what title I used). I started with simple organisms and a prof from a local university brought me good microscopes so that we could look at lots of single cell critters. I showed them samples of seaweeds and they tasted seaweed (Home Science Tools). I brought in lots of games and science toys for bugs and amphibians. (If the class had been in warmer weather, we would have done bug safaris.) I got a 4-H guy to come in with samples of reptiles (plus scorpions). We got 4-H to loan us their incubator with turner and a local purveyor of heritage chicken breeds provided the eggs (then he came to get the chicks after we had hatched them and enjoyed playing with them).


So, each week I lectured about a particular class of life and then had some time at the end for them to explore with some sort of hands-on things. I used the worksheets from that publication to send home with them for reinforcement and also used things provided by 4-H regarding the eggs, as well as some Enchanted Learning worksheets for parts of an egg, stages of development, etc. We did not cover mammals....


I am probably going to do a pond study and stream survey with some kids next fall as folks have already been asking me to do it. I will use the Nutshell Pond and Stream. For the stream study, I'll use the invertebrate guide and survey form available online. We have a fish hatchery in our area that is by a stream and it makes a great place to go for doing this. We tour the hatchery while we're there, too, and take algae samples from their ponds to look at under the microscope....

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