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What is your middle school child doing for science?


TheAttachedMama
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I let mine chase interests and help decide our path here, so no one's looks the same.

 

My 8th grader (precocious) is studying astronomy this year, using Understanding the Universe lecture series from Great Courses as the spine. She's reading in an intro astronomy textbook and a handful of other resources too. She's also trying her hand at AP environmental science (we don't have to decide if she'll take the actual test until later). Last year she started out with an easier high school biology textbook (Campbell), which lasted for about half the year before we veered off into interest led, where she covered electronics and forensics mostly. The year before that she used the Guesthollow chemistry schedule with some tweaking (dropped easier readers and added more mature ones). Before that was Bite-size Physics by Science Jim, which really opened up the science world to her. Before Science Jim she'd decided nature science was the only thing worth studying. After Science Jim she declared herself a STEM kid and wanted more science like that. LOL

 

My 9th grader is taking physics and using the same astronomy course DD/8th has. For 8th he also started out with biology and veered off into his own interest led topics, mostly physics and those "science of ThisSciFiMovie" type books. He was also taking Build Your Library's grade 8 history of science which included a fair bit of science. For 7th he did the Guesthollow chemistry with his sister. In 6th he did ocean science, weather, and astronomy in Adventures in the Sea and Sky (Winter Promise), correlated to the history of ships, planes, and spacecraft. This one was born a STEM nut.

DD/12th and DS/grad suffered through some Apologia. (Never doing that again. :ack2: ) I'd say they don't seem worse for the wear, but one swore off science and the other liked more traditional high school texts much better. They're really just humanities kids though.

I have two more to go. They're only 4th and 1st this year. I've let them chase their interests from the beginning and they think science is amazing and wonderful. We started Quark Chronicles this year, which they're enjoying so far. (If DS/9th misses me reading aloud the main Quark chapter he'll read it on his own later. He says it's just so he can talk about the plot with DS/1st. LOL) In the summer we'll start talking about what they want to learn for 2nd and 5th and then I'll look for curricula or resources to accomplish that.  I haven't even considered what they'll do in middle school. My goals are to keep expanding their horizons and keep their sense of wonder thriving.

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My 7th grader and I designed her science this year: Chemistry and the Science of Food. She started with Ellen McHenry's Carbon Chemistry to get a basic understanding of organic chemistry concepts. Later, she will be applying that knowledge more specifically to the science of food, exploring how scientific principles can impact cooking, nutrition, and food safety. We are using 4H's food science curriculum as our spine for this part. She'll also be looking into various food science careers, including hopefully interviewing or shadowing someone in the field either at a locally company or a nearby university.

 

We put this together to combine two of her favorite things (chemistry and food!) and it's working great so far.

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My 6th grader is finishing Harcourt grade 6.  I'm hoping to do some physics and astronomy next, as those are his favorite topics.  I'm thinking the Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher for physics and am undecided for astronomy.

 

My 8th grader is finishing Apologia Chemistry, then will start either Conceptual Physics or Miller & Levine Biology.

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The Rainbow science. We love it here. I love it that the kit comes with EVERYthing (except distilled water) that you need for the labs. My other son's kit doesn't, so this week I have to track down a galvanized nail, blue food coloring, and some charcoal. But for my middle schooler, it's all there.

 

And I like how understandable the text is. There are concepts I've never quite been able to explain that he explains in the book in a way that makes it so easy. I keep seeing the lightbulb go off over my son's head.

This exactly! Last year my dd did Holt Earth Science and HATED it. This year, we’re doing Rainbow Science, both years in one. She absolutely loves it. It sparked a passion for science. To help with retention, I have her make flash cards of new scientific terms in the chapter as well as new rules/ concepts learned, as was recommended on these boards.

(Edited for typo)

Edited by Maryam
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Answers in Genesis God's Design series Chemistry & Ecology set, also Chemistry 101 DVDs for my 6th grader, my 3rd grader joins in with age appropriate adaptions, though she is the science brain of the family.

 

labs that go along with older sister's Discovering Design in Chemistry by Dr. Wile

 

Fizz, Bubble, & Flash:  Element Explorations and Atom Adventures by Anita Brandolini  for elementary level

 

Element  flash cards

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  • 2 weeks later...

My 7th grader is doing honors biology with her older brother, using DIVE.

 

She is also doing Ellen McHenry’s Rocks and Dirt, and plans to do Protozoa.

 

And taking a once a week Ecology class at co-op.

 

And using science kits from little passports science expedition, and Thames and Kosmos.

 

She cannot get enough science.!

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One is currently doing a mom designed unit on chemistry using The Disappearing Spoon, a couple of TOPS units, a couple of science kits, and a chemistry coloring book, among a few other things.

 

The other is currently doing a mom designed unit on astronomy using The Planets by Dava Sobel, Seeing the Sky (it's a book about observations and experiments), and a few other resources - we're making using of several local astronomy nights.

 

We have yet to use a proper science curriculum. Other units that have been big hits in the past included one where we did Dino 101 from Coursera (which I don't think is on there anymore now that Coursera has changed... not sure) alongside a ton of good books about dinosaurs, geologic time, and extinction, plus we went to an actual dino dig. Another really good one was that last year Mushroom studied cells with lots of good living books, did a number of mom designed projects, and heavily used the microscope, and then did Protozoa from Ellen McHenry (which we had mixed feelings about, but that's another story) and then he did a science fair style project exploring which infusion method would encourage the growth of more protozoa in water from a local stream (hay beat rice big time).

Do you have a microscope recommendation? And, if you'll share, was the issue with Ellen McHenry's unit just for that unit, or is it her units in general? I'm looking at using some of her things and would love your feedback.

 

I'm so intrigued with your homemade units. I'm trying to do something similar for 6th biology, but I'm having trouble narrowing down the big ideas I want my kid to become familiar with. I know we'll spend some time on plants, human body, and animals, but I'm stuck on the overall big ideas, especially for plants and animals. Ideas?

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Do you have a microscope recommendation? And, if you'll share, was the issue with Ellen McHenry's unit just for that unit, or is it her units in general? I'm looking at using some of her things and would love your feedback.

 

I'm so intrigued with your homemade units. I'm trying to do something similar for 6th biology, but I'm having trouble narrowing down the big ideas I want my kid to become familiar with. I know we'll spend some time on plants, human body, and animals, but I'm stuck on the overall big ideas, especially for plants and animals. Ideas?

 

I have had that issue with her units in general - she has a lot of great ideas and I kept getting her stuff on sale and getting sucked back into trying it, but in the end, it's not been right for us. With the publication of her geology unit this fall, it's become clear as well just how not-secular she is too, which is a big issue for us. I knew her units were "neutral" - but there's nothing neutral about the way she presented geology.

 

For us, I found that having a more narrow topic made it easier to plan a unit. "Biology" is a huge subject. You don't have to cover everything. I'd choose something specific - botany, cells, microscopes, mammals, extinctions, food chains... so many good jumping off points. And then I'd go from there. While obviously there are more resources about "plants" - you'll probably find more inspiring looking resources about a slightly narrower topic, you know?

 

I love the Brock Magiscope, though it's not the best for cells and prepared slides, though it's fine and it's great for just outside in the field stuff. Our more traditional scope is too old now to really recommend anymore - and the light broke and I had to jerry the replacement myself, so that's hard to suggest to others!

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I have had that issue with her units in general - she has a lot of great ideas and I kept getting her stuff on sale and getting sucked back into trying it, but in the end, it's not been right for us. With the publication of her geology unit this fall, it's become clear as well just how not-secular she is too, which is a big issue for us. I knew her units were "neutral" - but there's nothing neutral about the way she presented geology.

 

For us, I found that having a more narrow topic made it easier to plan a unit. "Biology" is a huge subject. You don't have to cover everything. I'd choose something specific - botany, cells, microscopes, mammals, extinctions, food chains... so many good jumping off points. And then I'd go from there. While obviously there are more resources about "plants" - you'll probably find more inspiring looking resources about a slightly narrower topic, you know?

 

I love the Brock Magiscope, though it's not the best for cells and prepared slides, though it's fine and it's great for just outside in the field stuff. Our more traditional scope is too old now to really recommend anymore - and the light broke and I had to jerry the replacement myself, so that's hard to suggest to others!

 

Thanks for the feedback about the units.  I was wondering how secular they were.  And thanks, too, for the advice about narrowing a topic down.  I sometimes get too wrapped up in the big picture and forget to see the value in teaching specific parts.  You've caused me to question my purpose in teaching biology.  What is the main goal I want my kids to achieve?  My son has expressed a concern about air pollution and how many people die each year because of it.  Seems like I could easily incorporate lessons and experiments about how pollution affects plants and humans.  We'd certainly have to learn about plant makeup in order to learn the effect pollution has on plants.  Same with the human body.

 

OK, thank you so much for replying!  I'm off to look for some inspiring books about environmental pollution.  That sentence sounds kind of weird....not sure inspiring and pollution should go together....

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