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It's February, and with all the planning threads for next year are popping up, I'm feeling behind.  I'm all muddled in my brain thinking through school for DD12.  I'm researching and thinking through several issues and options and would love any feedback, advice, perspective. Forgive me if my perspective or questions seem naive.

--DD asked to study chem in-depth next year. Her math skills are strong, but I don't have a sense for how strong they need to be to successfully tackle an honors high school chem or AP chem course. I'm considering Clover Valley Honors Chem or (less likely) AP Chem through PAH or intro chem at a CC.  Up til now, we've been pretty unstructured about science. She reads lots of science books on her own, and we do BFSU in a discussion based manner as a family. We're part way through the 3rd BFSU book, but likely won't finish it this year. She'll be bored if the class is too easy, but I don't want chem to take over her whole life.

--She has said that she wants to make sure she has "plenty of time" to devote to math. In practice, that means she wants to do AOPS Online Intermediate Alg followed by either Intermediate NT or Intermediate C&P. She's also recently discovered EMF and will want to continue to do that for fun on the side. If I can find her a problem-solving based math club (as opposed to a math circle where you hear random talks on different math topics), she'll probably want to do that.  How does Intermediate Alg compare (in terms of workload or level of difficulty) to Intro to Geo or Intro to Alg? We had been told that Intro to Geo was the hardest of AOPS's Intro courses, but DD had the hardest time with Intro to Alg B (she spent 2-3 hours / day on that one), whereas Intro to Geo seems relatively easy for her.

--DD is currently completing AOPS Online Intro to Geo. She wants to do Intro to NT over the summer. After that, she will have completed the Intro series. Will her math skills be strong enough for Clover Valley Honors Chem, PAH AP Chem, or an intro chem course through a community college?

--What are the downsides to doing an Honors high school chem (like Clover Valley) or AP chem in 8th grade? Is it best to do an intro chem class (like Clover Valley Honors chem) before tackling AP Chem? Should I just punt formal chem to high school and continue casual science through BFSU and reading books in 8th?

--I started another thread with this question, but if we do Clover Valley, any thoughts on parent-graded vs. teacher-led option? How much work is Clover Valley Honors chem for a mathy kid?

 

ETA: I may delete parts of this later for privacy. thanks for understanding!

Edited by JHLWTM
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This is a quick, uninformed reaction (so sounding off, in the spirit of a sounding board) to your line about chemistry taking over her whole life. I hope nothing stressful or disagreeable takes over anyone's life. But a kid who loves chemistry, and lets chemistry take over their whole life or their whole education, doesn't sound like a bad outcome to me. It's at least easy to imagine her making a living as a grown-up. Or curing a disease!

But my bet, like I said not an informed one, is that doing well in an AP chemistry course would be pretty time consuming for a 13 year old.

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On 2/21/2021 at 9:01 AM, JHLWTM said:

It's February, and with all the planning threads for next year are popping up, I'm feeling behind.  I'm all muddled in my brain thinking through school for DD12.  I'm researching and thinking through several issues and options and would love any feedback, advice, perspective. Forgive me if my perspective or questions seem naive.

DD will be in 8th by age.

--DD asked to study chem in-depth next year. Her math skills are strong, but I don't have a sense for how strong they need to be to successfully tackle an honors high school chem or AP chem course. I'm considering Clover Valley Honors Chem or (less likely) AP Chem through PAH or intro chem at a CC.  Up til now, we've been pretty unstructured about science. She reads lots of science books on her own, and we do BFSU in a discussion based manner as a family. We're part way through the 3rd BFSU book, but likely won't finish it this year. She'll be bored if the class is too easy, but I don't want chem to take over her whole life.

--She has said that she wants to make sure she has "plenty of time" to devote to math. In practice, that means she wants to do AOPS Online Intermediate Alg followed by either Intermediate NT or Intermediate C&P. She's also recently discovered EMF and will want to continue to do that for fun on the side. If I can find her a problem-solving based math club (as opposed to a math circle where you hear random talks on different math topics), she'll probably want to do that.  How does Intermediate Alg compare (in terms of workload or level of difficulty) to Intro to Geo or Intro to Alg? We had been told that Intro to Geo was the hardest of AOPS's Intro courses, but DD had the hardest time with Intro to Alg B (she spent 2-3 hours / day on that one), whereas Intro to Geo seems relatively easy for her.

I've heard people complain about the Intermediate Algebra class -- I know @EmilyGF's son had trouble with the workload. And I know he's a very strong student, so I'd take that input seriously. 

On the other hand, I'm not sure if that class had an Alcumus component when he took it, and it looks like they removed it. Perhaps she'll chime in on what he found difficult. 

I'm a little concerned that she had so much trouble with Introductory Algebra B. Do you know if there's anything conceptual she had trouble with? I've also heard that people have more trouble with geometry on average. 

 

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--DD is currently completing AOPS Online Intro to Geo. She wants to do Intro to NT over the summer. After that, she will have completed the Intro series. Her net grade each week (average grade across all the domains - alcumus, challenge, writing, participation) is all blue bars, though there will be occasional green bars in the sub-domains. Will her math skills be strong enough for Clover Valley Honors Chem, PAH AP Chem, or an intro chem course through a community college?

--What are the downsides to doing an Honors high school chem (like Clover Valley) or AP chem in 8th grade? Is it best to do an intro chem class (like Clover Valley Honors chem) before tackling AP Chem? Should I just punt formal chem to high school and continue casual science through BFSU and reading books in 8th?

To me, the downsides to jumping into high school chem might be that she learns the material but doesn't get a feeling for the subject, if that makes sense? I took chemistry and physics all the way up in high school, and it's safe to say that I did NOT learn them properly. Knowing what I know about how people learn, I would say that immersing me in the ideas (which it sounds like you're doing a stellar job of, if you're using BFSU) would probably just as worthwhile as jumping into the chemistry content, especially if there isn't really anything she's going to DO with the chemistry after she's done. Or are there things she can imagine using it for sometime soon? 

 

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--I started another thread with this question, but if we do Clover Valley, any thoughts on parent-graded vs. teacher-led option? How much work is Clover Valley Honors chem for a mathy kid?

--I still want her to have time for the other stuff: (and she really enjoys all of these, with the exception of WWS which is "ok" according to her)

  • writing -probably WWS - finish up book2, then start book3
  • literature -probably read 4-5 works in depth with me, also looking at Windows to the World and Excellence in Lit - Introduction. It seems they serve separate functions - WWS is a composition course, WttW and EiL are lit analysis. Would it be overkill to do both WWS and WttW/EiL? Should I ditch a formal lit course and just read and discuss books with her? The problem with that is that if I don't have some structure, I have a hard time keeping up with the reading and discussing. We used MP lit guides this year, and while they felt formulaic, they did the job.
  • history -probably 6 titles from the Lucent World History series or similar series focusing on WW1, WW2, Russian Revolution, Chinese Communist Revolution and Cultural Revolution, Civil Rights Movement. 
  • foreign languages - she also really wants to learn spanish (we'll probably do Homeschool Spanish Academy) and arabic (she'll probably learn casually through Duolingo), and she wants to keep up with chinese (chinese school 2 hours a week, homework isn't terrible - maybe 15 min / day, occasionally heavier 30 min / day).
  • She wants to continue piano (she  practices ~30- 45 min/day)

--Don't know what next year will look like with regard to in person opportunities, but she misses seeing people (if you've read my previous posts, she is, or was, my recalcitrant introvert, so this feels like a minor miracle). If things open up, that would probably mean youth group, and either swimming or running club, plus the chinese school.

--She has voluntarily taken on more work and learning for herself in multiple areas this year. She went through GSWS (Getting Started with Spanish) on her own in the fall, then started Duolingo for both Spanish and Arabic. She asked to do additional Chinese on top of her chinese class, and is self-teaching through the chinese pseudo-equivalent of McGuffey's Reader. She asked for more math and works through an AMC8 or 10 practice test once a week as part of a math club. She started Elements of Mathematics on her own. She started a self paced web dev course online. She's also read - a ton.  Most importantly - she's super relaxed and happy this year - yea! (see my "Why is my 11 Year old so moody" thread) 

It sounds like doing lots of academics and having a chill schedule is working for her. So it sounds like she knows how to make good choices for herself -- I'd take that as signal to pay a lot of attention to her ideas.  

I don't know if any of this is helpful 🙂 . My kiddos are younger, so I don't have personal experience with any of this stuff except AoPS. But I thought I'd chime in. I'm glad your DD is doing well this hard year! 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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My son thought that AoPS Intermediate Algebra was easier that Geometry. He probably spent 1hour per day. There is no Alcumus required for the class, but we chose to do Alcumus in addition.

I think that an AP class is doable if it is a subject she is passionate about. My ds13 is taking AP Comp Sci A this year and is doing well. Make sure she has the math background for the Chem class, I think that AP Chem has Algebra 2 as a prerequisite. So you may want to start with the high school Chem class. Ds is taking algebra base physics and calculus this year and is planning to take AP physics c or CC physics, not sure yet. We had a hard time finding a test location this year, so we may opt for CC.
 

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10 hours ago, JHLWTM said:

--DD asked to study chem in-depth next year. Her math skills are strong, but I don't have a sense for how strong they need to be to successfully tackle an honors high school chem or AP chem course. I'm considering ... (less likely) AP Chem through PAH or intro chem at a CC.  Up til now, we've been pretty unstructured about science. She reads lots of science books on her own, and we do BFSU in a discussion based manner as a family. We're part way through the 3rd BFSU book, but likely won't finish it this year. She'll be bored if the class is too easy, but I don't want chem to take over her whole life.

--She has said that she wants to make sure she has "plenty of time" to devote to math. In practice, that means she wants to do AOPS Online Intermediate Alg followed by either Intermediate NT or Intermediate C&P. ... If I can find her a problem-solving based math club (as opposed to a math circle where you hear random talks on different math topics), she'll probably want to do that.  

--DD is currently completing AOPS Online Intro to Geo. She wants to do Intro to NT over the summer. After that, she will have completed the Intro series. Her net grade each week (average grade across all the domains - alcumus, challenge, writing, participation) is all blue bars, though there will be occasional green bars in the sub-domains. Will her math skills be strong enough for Clover Valley Honors Chem, PAH AP Chem, or an intro chem course through a community college?

--What are the downsides to ... AP chem in 8th grade? Is it best to do an intro chem class (like Clover Valley Honors chem) before tackling AP Chem? Should I just punt formal chem to high school and continue casual science through BFSU and reading books in 8th?

 

If she's an AoPS kid who has taken algebra, then she's fine for AP chemistry.  My dd went from BFSU in 8th grade to AP chem in 9th grade with no problems.  (She enjoyed the class, learned a lot, and scored a 5.)  She learned the octet rule and some other basic chem in BFSU, but honestly I don't think it really mattered.  I think beyond strong math skills (basically logs for pH), there isn't a science prereq for AP chemistry at PAH.  The most important prereq is excellent EF skills, a willingness to ask questions, knowing how to study, and a desire to learn.  

I personally think all the intermediate AoPS books are a big step up in difficulty from the intro books, but as @Marie.Sd points out, YMMV.    

I will tell you that many people will warn against taking an AP class in 8th grade because there is a College Board rule that states you can't put an AP on a transcript for a class taken in 8th grade.  I disagree, but there it is.  

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10 hours ago, JHLWTM said:

 

--She has said that she wants to make sure she has "plenty of time" to devote to math. In practice, that means she wants to do AOPS Online Intermediate Alg followed by either Intermediate NT or Intermediate C&P. She's also recently discovered EMF and will want to continue to do that for fun on the side. If I can find her a problem-solving based math club (as opposed to a math circle where you hear random talks on different math topics), she'll probably want to do that.  How does Intermediate Alg compare (in terms of workload or level of difficulty) to Intro to Geo or Intro to Alg? We had been told that Intro to Geo was the hardest of AOPS's Intro courses, but DD had the hardest time with Intro to Alg B (she spent 2-3 hours / day on that one), whereas Intro to Geo seems relatively easy for her.

 

(I meant to address the above.)

In 8th grade she can still participate in MathCounts, so I would definitely get her onto a homeschool team.  They are a terrific organization and homeschool friendly.  And friendly in general.  She can also participate on your local ARML team.  It's basically MathCounts for high school, but younger students can compete too.  

Don't forget to sign her up for AMC 8 and AMC 10 next year.  

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Here's the prereq for AP chem at PAH:

"Eligibility Requirements: My class is open to 9th – 12th grade students, ages 14 – 18, who have completed one year of high school chemistry and Algebra II. Students must be self-disciplined, well-organized, and able to schedule a minimum of 10 – 12 hours a week for the course, not including lab work. (Note: The first-year chemistry requirement can be waived for students who have exceptionally strong math skills and the ability to apply math to solve complex problems.)"

My dd didn't have any high school level chemistry, except what was taught in BFSU vol. 3, and I doubt she retained much of that.  

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Whether it's too much or not will depend on your student and how much time they want to spend on school.  We are doing AP Chem at home, loosely following a syllabus that we found online.  In 8th grade, we did one semester of Life of Fred physics and one of chemistry as a fun way to do physical science, and then we started AP in 9th grade.  It is, as I remembered from college, basically a math class.  There is some work with naming conventions and of course the student needs to understand what is going on chemically in order to set up the equations, but as my student works through the problems in the study guide, 90% of them are numeric answers.  My student is also doing AoPS Int. Algebra (at home, no online component), but we do it entirely on our own and have chosen to do it over 1.5 years because we simultaneously do LOF math to get a different perspective and build in review. 

It's working for my student, but it definitely a lot of math.   

I'm generally not going to get in the way of a student with academic goals.  Alternatively, 8th grade is sort of the last chance to easily study random topics without needing to figure out how you want to turn it into a high school credit.   It looks like your daughter could do the AP chemistry, but she might consider whether there is a specific area of chem that she'd rather explore before she has to take the mathy regular class, or, for that matter, whether she needs the background from regular chem to be able to learn whatever it is that she's interested in.  

Edited by Clemsondana
because if you sub 'online' for 'on our own' it changes the meaning...
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22 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I've heard people complain about the Intermediate Algebra class -- I know @EmilyGF's son had trouble with the workload. And having just had him in my precalculus class, he's a very strong student, so I'd take that input seriously. 

On the other hand, I'm not sure if that class had an Alcumus component when he took it, and it looks like they removed it. Perhaps she'll chime in on what he found difficult. 

I'm a little concerned that she had so much trouble with Introductory Algebra B. Do you know if there's anything conceptual she had trouble with? I've also heard that people have more trouble with geometry on average

Thanks, @Not_a_Number.

For Intro to Alg B, she said she didn’t feel it was necessarily conceptually difficult. The main area of difficulty she identified was that you had to be very detail oriented - if you missed one sign, or failed to transcribe one sign correctly, it messed everything up. I just went to find the score report for Intro to Alg B and .... somehow I don’t have it! Agh! I don’t know how I don’t have a record as I’m good about record keeping.  ( I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me for high school transcripts.) I did find her C and P report and she was not all blue bars there - she had more trouble in week 7 (Probability and Arithmetic) and week 12 (challenging problems) - green bars. She said that Geo is more straightforward, because it’s about figuring out how to do the problem, then once you figure out your strategy, the implementation of the strategy isn’t tedious.

Based on what you mentioned about Intermediate Algebra, I’m going to have her review some Intro to Alg this summer to make sure the concepts are solid - I may have her do some alcumus, or some of the textbook problems from each chapter, so we can find any potential points of weakness.

22 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

downsides to jumping into high school chem might be that she learns the material but doesn't get a feeling for the subject,

Agree. There isn’t much practical utility to doing high school level chem for her right now. She is conceptually interested, and she will probably enjoy the math, but there isn’t any particular need to rush to high school stuff. I’d let her do it this year if a) she was strongly interested, or b) it somehow provided a social outlet (i.e. there were peers doing it). She’s expressed repeated strong interest, but she doesn’t really know what it means to do a high school / college chem course. I ordered a used copy of the honors chem textbook so we can look through it together and she can have a better sense of whether that’s something she’d like to pursue.

 

22 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

sounds like doing lots of academics and having a chill schedule is working for her. So it sounds like she knows how to make good choices for herself -- I'd take that as signal to pay a lot of attention to her ideas

This was a great reminder for me! I had forgotten that I’d made this year relatively “light” for both kids with the goal of giving them plenty of free time to pursue their own interests (also, COVID, and not wanting to add too much academic stress to a potentially stressful year). You’re right - she’s made great choices for herself and has really used her free time well. She’s been able to discover some new interests. 

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45 minutes ago, JHLWTM said:

I just went to find the score report for Intro to Alg B and .... somehow I don’t have it! Agh! I don’t know how I don’t have a record as I’m good about record keeping.  ( I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me for high school transcripts.) I did find her C and P report and she was not all blue bars there - she had more trouble in week 7 (Probability and Arithmetic) and week 12 (challenging problems) - green bars

I'll reply to the rest of your post when I'm not in the middle of the school day... but you should write to them and ask for the report again! I'm sure it's all on their servers. I've had really old classes reopened to write recommendations before. 

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On 2/21/2021 at 11:17 AM, UHP said:

 But a kid who loves chemistry, and lets chemistry take over their whole life or their whole education, doesn't sound like a bad outcome to me.

That's true!

On 2/21/2021 at 6:54 PM, daijobu said:

If she's an AoPS kid who has taken algebra, then she's fine for AP chemistry.  My dd went from BFSU in 8th grade to AP chem in 9th grade with no problems.  (She enjoyed the class, learned a lot, and scored a 5.)  She learned the octet rule and some other basic chem in BFSU, but honestly I don't think it really mattered.  I think beyond strong math skills (basically logs for pH), there isn't a science prereq for AP chemistry at PAH.  The most important prereq is excellent EF skills, a willingness to ask questions, knowing how to study, and a desire to learn.  

I personally think all the intermediate AoPS books are a big step up in difficulty from the intro books, but as @Marie.Sd points out, YMMV.    

I will tell you that many people will warn against taking an AP class in 8th grade because there is a College Board rule that states you can't put an AP on a transcript for a class taken in 8th grade.  I disagree, but there it is.  

thanks, @daijobu. Your feedback on PAH AP Chem is really helpful. Re: the College Board, I had heard that you can get a score report for scores older than 4 years, but you have to make a special request? https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/sending-scores

 

 

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On 2/21/2021 at 6:57 PM, daijobu said:

In 8th grade she can still participate in MathCounts, so I would definitely get her onto a homeschool team.  They are a terrific organization and homeschool friendly.  And friendly in general.  She can also participate on your local ARML team.  It's basically MathCounts for high school, but younger students can compete too.  

Don't forget to sign her up for AMC 8 and AMC 10 next year.  

We will definitely look into MathCounts for next year. She did it this year for the first time, and though it was online, still enjoyed it.

10 hours ago, Clemsondana said:

Whether it's too much or not will depend on your student and how much time they want to spend on school. 

I'm generally not going to get in the way of a student with academic goals.  Alternatively, 8th grade is sort of the last chance to easily study random topics without needing to figure out how you want to turn it into a high school credit. 

That's true! There is no particular urgency for an accelerated science sequence, unless it's an area of strong interest for the child. DD also told me today that she really wants to learn Ham radio and get a ham radio license, which gave me the idea that maybe we could create a year of science around ham radio - learn about the physics of electricity, waves, etc.; learn about wireless communication technologies, etc. That could be really fun! And something that might be hard to do in high school.

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7 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I'll reply to the rest of your post when I'm not in the middle of the school day... but you should write to them and ask for the report again! I'm sure it's all on their servers. I've had really old classes reopened to write recommendations before. 

Thank you! I didn't know you could ask for the report. I emailed them and they sent me the link for the report request.

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I taught freshman chemistry for science and engineering majors at a selective 4-year college. Our students were over-prepared mathematically, since 95% were in calculus or above.   

Word problem-solving skills were the biggest difficulty for our weaker students.   Good skills with word problems are far more important than having seen advanced math. AoPS more than fulfills that requirement.

The most commonly used math skill in general chemistry is unit-factor conversions, taught in Beast Academy 5.  The most advanced math topics needed were solving quadratic equations, using natural and base 10 logarithms and making and interpreting graphs.  We sometimes used sine and tangent functions (maybe once a year and not every year) but knowing the triangle definitions and calculating on a calculator were the extent of that.  Nothing difficult to pick up in a few minutes if you haven't had trig. 

Some skill with spreadsheets is useful if the instructor favors labs with quantitative results. (in an online setting, this would be analysis of data provided by the instructor.)

She sounds mathematically ready for either honors high school chemistry or AP.  My only concern about AP comes from my experience with AP physics.  I took it while taking AP calculus and  learned a lot of multivariable calculus, but missed basic electricity and magnetism concepts.  A "Conceptual Chemistry" course might be an alternative, but she sounds like she would need the college version of conceptual chemistry, which is more of a science for non-science majors course.  She might still enjoy AP more, since she's a real math-lover.

 

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42 minutes ago, Alice Lamb said:

I taught freshman chemistry for science and engineering majors at a selective 4-year college. Our students were over-prepared mathematically, since 95% were in calculus or above.   

Word problem-solving skills were the biggest difficulty for our weaker students.   Good skills with word problems are far more important than having seen advanced math. AoPS more than fulfills that requirement.

I would argue that a kid who can't do word problems isn't really doing advanced math. I had many kids who were taking calculus who would be completely incapable of tackling word problems. Yes, they got "credit" for calculus, but I would argue that they didn't really learn calculus. Frankly, they had never learned algebra properly. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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2 minutes ago, EmilyGF said:

Hi all, @JHLWTM @Not_a_Numbermy son had a hard time with Intermediate Algebra back when it had the Alcumus component. He said the sets were easy, the Alcumus oppressive. I think the Alcumus part has since been removed, so it likely wouldn't be that bad. 

Thanks!! I thought that was the case, but I wasn't sure. I'm glad they removed the Alcumus -- it just seems like too much on an intermediate course. 

Was the Alcumus actually hard or just tricky in an annoying way? 

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