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Biology Curriculum Input Please!


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I'm trying to figure out what to do for Bio for next year. DS will be 9th, potentially college bound, but not science fields. Money is definitely a consideration. We already own a microscope and quite a few pre-prepared slides.

 

We are looking for something with fun labs including dissection. He isn't what I would call a really science-motivated student. As much as I'd like to say, "oh, hey, I can cobble something together!" the reality is that I really just can't right now. (And by fall, we'll likely be providing care for my MIL in addition to my medical/special needs 6 year old, so I'll be even less able to at that point.)

 

I have narrowed it down to:
 

   PAC looks appealing from a "not enthused about biology" standpoint, but it has no labs. How easy is it to add labs and, equally important, is there any blog or anything available where someone has said "we bought X for labs and here is how they line up with the units in PAC" because that is the level of handholding I require.)
 

   Apologia  I was initially wanting to move away from Apologia as I've read such mixed reviews, but he hasn't minded Apologia up to this point. Pros: readily available used and integrates labs. Lab kit isn't too expensive.
 
   Friendly looks awesome but my concern is that the labs don't look very rigorous (no microscope and using common kitchen ingredients). I'm sure we could integrate dissection on our own, but are the labs going to be... lab-y enough?
 
   Science Shepherd looks good except by the time you add on labs you're looking at several hundred dollars. Am I misreading that?
 

I plan to assign some of the living books from Guest Hollow's list as we go, as well. (though their curriculum isn't "open the book and do the assignments" enough for my current needs.)

Thoughts or feedback on any of the above options?

 

 

I also want to definitely add a decent evolution discussion - we're Christian so I want something that isn't going to disparage the idea of God, but ideally something that isn't TOO much reading but discusses all relevant viewpoints and their scientific backing or lack thereof. Ideas? Like, is there a short book on "evolution, all viewpoints, discussed without bias."

Thanks so much!

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We used and enjoyed Apologia. However, I didn't feel it did a good job of fairly representing evolution (in General Science, Wile at least attempts to present some arguments an evolutionist might make and makes them sound reasonable. The author for Biology doesn't do a good job of that.) It's not a big focus of the course, but there is one, possibly two chapters that you'd definitely want to discuss with relation to this topic.

 

We used a variety of sources to discuss creation, evolution, and also various Christian views on evolution over time (we did some discussion during General Science, Biology, and also as part of a World Views course later in high school, in addition to other more informal conversations). Some were articles from Biologos (another possible resource for a Christian Evolution viewpoint is Day Star Research), others were chapters from various books that discussed the issue (Understanding the Times, A Reason for God...I forget if there was something on evolution specifically in What if Jesus Had Never Been Born, but that book is awesome for seeing Christ's influence in many areas of history and science.)

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I'm trying to figure out what to do for Bio for next year. DS will be 9th, potentially college bound, but not science fields. Money is definitely a consideration. We already own a microscope and quite a few pre-prepared slides.

 

We are looking for something with fun labs including dissection. He isn't what I would call a really science-motivated student. As much as I'd like to say, "oh, hey, I can cobble something together!" the reality is that I really just can't right now. (And by fall, we'll likely be providing care for my MIL in addition to my medical/special needs 6 year old, so I'll be even less able to at that point.)

 

I have narrowed it down to:

 

   PAC looks appealing from a "not enthused about biology" standpoint, but it has no labs. How easy is it to add labs and, equally important, is there any blog or anything available where someone has said "we bought X for labs and here is how they line up with the units in PAC" because that is the level of handholding I require.)

 

   Apologia  I was initially wanting to move away from Apologia as I've read such mixed reviews, but he hasn't minded Apologia up to this point. Pros: readily available used and integrates labs. Lab kit isn't too expensive.

 

   Friendly looks awesome but my concern is that the labs don't look very rigorous (no microscope and using common kitchen ingredients). I'm sure we could integrate dissection on our own, but are the labs going to be... lab-y enough?

 

   Science Shepherd looks good except by the time you add on labs you're looking at several hundred dollars. Am I misreading that?

 

I plan to assign some of the living books from Guest Hollow's list as we go, as well. (though their curriculum isn't "open the book and do the assignments" enough for my current needs.)

 

Thoughts or feedback on any of the above options?

 

 

I also want to definitely add a decent evolution discussion - we're Christian so I want something that isn't going to disparage the idea of God, but ideally something that isn't TOO much reading but discusses all relevant viewpoints and their scientific backing or lack thereof. Ideas? Like, is there a short book on "evolution, all viewpoints, discussed without bias."

 

Thanks so much!

 

We used Apologia for chemistry and physics, but I really needed to use something else for biology.  The Kolbe Academy course plan for biology worked well for us.  It uses a standard high school textbook with some additional commentary and readings on topics that touch on the topic of religious implications of evolution.  I didn't grade my kids on the Catholic specific readings, but did find the book Chance or Purpose? to be a good book for exploring the topic.  

 

I have yet to find a book that is an all viewpoints no bias book.  I think the opposing sides often think the other is a heretic/flat earther and are unlikely to collaborate on a book (some of them won't even consent to being at a homeschool conference if people with opposing views are also presenting).  I think you would be better off to look at short introductions presented by proponents of the views you want to consider.  I did have to be careful about books that try to debunk the other side.  Some of them labeled as Christian some things that I don't think are common.  Others use selective quoting to make it seem that scientists doubt evolution, when that isn't really that person's position.  

 

 

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FWIW, my friend's daughter, who used Apologia, went on to excel in biology in undergrad at a public university, and works in a hospital lab now. It would likely be just fine!

 

Editing to add that my older two did not use it because one did biology during a year of public high school, and the other wanted AP Bio, so we went with PA Homeschoolers.

Edited by GoodGrief
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We like Apologia and found the experiments very easy to do at home, with the kit from Homeschool in the Woods.  (Although I recommend upgraded scalpels)....my son took the course through Apologia Academy which really helped with motivation, explanations, etc.

 

Two Caveats

1. if your student for some reason plans to take the Biology SAT Subject test, you have to add an entire unit on Human Anatomy.  This was a real frustration for us at the time, since my son needed it for our state's college entrance (long hairy California story)  But he changed paths and started at community college instead, and because he has such great memories of Apologia Biology, that's the Science he chose.  

2. There is a lot of young earth and creationist info that isn't exactly compelling or up-to-date.   For the very scientific student, this could be frustrating, as, even if they do not believe in evolution, they may find Wile's reasoning frustrating.

 

So, I really think it's a great course.  Even though it covers less material than BJU, because it moves at a slower pace, the students can digest and enjoy the material and really "own" it rather than rushing through it.  The experiments are do-able.  The course is easy to plan and follow through with. The tests and such are a good mix between multiple choice- and write-in.  NOt overwhelming, but the student DOES have to really read and study. I plan to use it all the way through with my dd until she also goes early to community college. :) 

 

it's not perfect but we really liked Apologia Biology for the most part.

 

 

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