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Farrar

chemistry resources for an 8th grader

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BalletBoy has asked to do something with chemistry for next year.

 

I'm trying to figure out what to structure for him. This doesn't have to be a long unit - it definitely won't be more than a semester. I absolutely don't want a traditional program like Mr Q or Elemental. It absolutely must be secular. We did Middle School Chemistry two years ago, so that's out as well, though it means I still have some good lab equipment and some of the chemicals. I also don't want to do any of the Ellen McHenry things - they definitely aren't right for this kid in this case.

 

I am leaning toward doing The Disappearing Spoon for sure. He's a good reader and it'll be a good book for him. Does anyone know of any reading questions for it? I thought about having him do the Groovy Kids online class which would just take this off my plate, but we're busy Mondays (though that might change) so I think that's out.

 

However, I know he'd like to have some hands on things as well. Any thoughts? An experiment book he could work through that wouldn't be too "baking soda and vinegar!" but also wouldn't be full on high school chemistry labs? Something that would be interesting and engaging... maybe about a specific topic? He did his spring science fair style project on bath bombs - he made three different recipes and predicted which would fizz the most and take longest to dissolve. That sort of playing around with the different ingredients is definitely part of what he's hoping to do, so something that goes beyond the whole "wow, that turned colors/exploded/changed temperature/etc!" sort of thing would be good too.

 

I considered getting MEL Chemistry but I just could not justify the cost in the end. Oh well.

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We are doing Guest Hollow kitchen chemistry. I think she is not typically secular but the book choices are quite solid, and I've reviewed most through lesson 18 in detail and haven't found anything that set off any alarms. I am adding some additional materials to it, including Gourmet Lab https://www.amazon.com/Gourmet-Lab-Scientific-Principles-Favorite/dp/1936137089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501033155&sr=8-1&keywords=Gourmet+lab

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The Guest Hollow program apparently schedules a soap making and cheese making kit. I wonder if that would appeal to BalletBoy... I feel like the whole messing around to make things piece is what he's actually after. He's not that into cooking, unfortunately... otherwise I would just go full on with kitchen chemistry.

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You know, I just can't justify doing that Thames and Kosmos set. It's expensive. And we already have all that chemistry glass and things like little burners and so forth. Not to mention surplus chemicals. I'd like to find a book of classic classroom experiments basically. Everything seems to be "cool" and "explosive" chemistry with cutesy drawings geared toward the 8-9 yo set or higher end high school manuals for chemistry. There MUST be something in between.

 

ETA: I'm looking at this old Dover book:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486220311/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A3HS0K3UQJW2XZ&psc=1

 

I have the pdf of that Golden Book but all the "it's dangerous!" warnings scare me.

Edited by Farrar
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Have you looked at the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments by Robert Bruce Thompson? My library has a copy. It is chock full of experiments and the preface includes the statement, "if all you want to make is fireworks and explosives this book is not for you." It is geared for diy hobbyists and science enthusiasts. Another boardie shared her notes with me about the book. She has been teaching it in co-op for a few years. I was thinking maybe you could cherry pick some experiments that would suit your ds, especially since you have the hardware already.

 

This probably falls in the "high school chem" cluster of books, though.

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Are you doing any of the TOPS units?

 

Emily

 

I did not think of that. Because... Yeah... I got nothing. Clearly that's a decent thought.

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Are you doing any of the TOPS units?

 

Emily

 

I did not think of that. Because... Yeah... I got nothing. Clearly that's a decent thought.

 

I can recommend these TOPS Chemistry-based units (and be SURE to get the supply kits!)

#10 - Analysis

#11 - Oxidation

#12 - Solutions

#13 - Cohesion and Adhesion

 

I would skip #14 Kinetic Model -- it was a big bust.

 

 

ETA:

And while it would only be a very superficial touching on topics, so you'd need deeper books to go with, but we used the Chemistry sections of Reader's Digest How Science Works (as part of a Physical Science year, so also did Physics). The Chemistry units are #1 (World of Matter) and #4 (Air and Water). Instead of this one, I would now go with DK Eyewitness Books: Chemistry -- (gr. 5-8) 2-page spreads of info, but the entire book is on Chemistry.

 

Also check out:

ACS (American Chemistry Society) Chemistry -- website; free Teaching Guide chemistry program for gr. 6-8

Rader's Chem4Kids website -- gr. 5-8; springboard of topics to cover

Janice Van Cleev's Chemistry for Every Kid: 101 Experiments That Really Work (Van Cleev) -- gr. 4-8

Cartoon Guide to Chemistry (Gonick) -- high school level

Elements: An Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (Gray) -- 2-page info spreads

AGS Chemistry - textbook for gr. 7-12 -- high school Chemistry, but written at a gentler level

 

If he's ready for something more formal and can handle advanced, Suchocki's Conceptual Chemistry is very nice -- only needs a little bit of understanding of basic Algebra 1 . He also has some great videos on his website (under the link "tutorials") to go with each chapter. You can go with the 4th ed. for much cheaper, and it still matches the videos on the website.

Edited by Lori D.
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Sweet! My middle schooler is doing chemistry, also, and it is good to know which TOPS make sense to use.

Emily

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Sweet! My middle schooler is doing chemistry, also, and it is good to know which TOPS make sense to use.

Emily

 

Oxidation is the only one that is definitely high school level of topics, but I think it's still do-able by middle school, as long as you get some good support info elsewhere. The one big downside of TOPS is that there is NO teaching info.

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Yeah, I have mixed feelings about TOPS, though I feel like it's a little baffling why they're not used more often. We've used parts of a few and liked them okay. The supplies kit is cheap, Lori... but I also already have nearly everything in it looking at the solutions and the one for analysis. It seems silly to order it when I already have things like graduated cylinders and bottles of mineral oil and so forth.

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For Groovy Kids, the experiments I can remember off the top of my head were: making a spectroscope, extracting DNA from fruit, and copper plating a nail. The kids had to watch several youtube videos during the week going over various topics from the text. They also had virtual labs (unfortunately I can't remember any of them!)

 

Another thing to look into is the You Be the Chemist Challenge:

https://www.chemed.org/programs/challenge/

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...The supplies kit is cheap, Lori... but I also already have nearly everything in it looking at the solutions and the one for analysis. It seems silly to order it when I already have things...

 

That makes sense if you have the needed equipment and material supplies. I did not buy the supply kit for a few of the physics kits and it was a major pain in time and effort (not to mention expense) to pull it together myself, so I always add "buy the supply kit!" to help others avoid the pain. ;)

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I was going to mention Mel chemistry until I got to the end. Lol it really is great! I find it to be worth the money.

 

I'm no help! My ds asked to learn about chemical reactions so I'm in the same boat.

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Another thing to look into is the You Be the Chemist Challenge:

https://www.chemed.org/programs/challenge/

 

I was just going to suggest this.  DD has competed for the last two years.  We love the study guides.  She has an excellent understanding of chemistry now (not quite all of the mathy stuff, but she can even balance chemical equations).

 

ETA:  Check out this page in particular: https://www.chemed.org/programs/challenge/study-materials/

 

It contains last year's study guides and a link to a page with additional websites with study materials.

Edited by Lisa in the UP of MI
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We are doing Guest Hollow kitchen chemistry. I think she is not typically secular but the book choices are quite solid, and I've reviewed most through lesson 18 in detail and haven't found anything that set off any alarms. I am adding some additional materials to it, including Gourmet Lab https://www.amazon.com/Gourmet-Lab-Scientific-Principles-Favorite/dp/1936137089/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501033155&sr=8-1&keywords=Gourmet+lab

I spoke too soon. I made it to the end of planning this weekend, and several references to young earth resources popped up. I'm ignoring them, but still feeling frustrated, though not surprised.

Edited by deerforest
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I like contests and so forth - they're often very motivating for this kid in particular. However, it seems like the You Be the Chemist challenge starts with memorizing the Periodic Table. Is that right? Because I just don't see this particular kid getting into that.

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I like contests and so forth - they're often very motivating for this kid in particular. However, it seems like the You Be the Chemist challenge starts with memorizing the Periodic Table. Is that right? Because I just don't see this particular kid getting into that.

 

You don't need to memorize the periodic table.  And you don't even necessarily need to participate in the contest.  I really liked the study guides and would recommend them just as a resource to learn chemistry.

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