Jump to content


High School Science Reccs

Recommended Posts

Science had always been my weak point as a teacher. We've done a bit of everything-curricula (Real Science Odyssey, Apologia, Science in the Beginning...), kits (Magic School Bus, Thames and Cosmos...), clubs (Nature club, Astronomy club...).  Mostly the last few years we've fallen into Ambleside-style living science books with a summer lab and science fair entry tacked on.

I do feel that in the end my kids have received a fairly well-rounded elementary level introduction to science, but I'm wanting more of a standard textbook/lab situation for high school.  Especially for my college bound oldest son.

It needs to be do-able without a ton of teacher prep.  I do try to avoid online classes as much as possible, because the $$ adds up fast when I've already got one taking online coding l, one online french, and another online math.  The subject can be anything- we are open to Biology, Earth Science, Physics, or Chemistry. 

What have you enjoyed for high school science?  Or, even if you didn't love it, what actually got done and produced knowledge? 

Edited by Coco_Clark
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the "big kid" board, and to planning for high school! 😄 

You might check out the 3 pinned threads at the top of the High School Board, to get some initial information about programs that are more/less intensive or more/less independent-working:
   - Homeschool High School Biology
   - Homeschool High School Chemistry
   - Homeschool High School Physics

If interested in something other than the "traditional big 3", check out some of these past threads on other science areas -- these are all linked on PAGE 5 of the big pinned thread "High School Motherlode #2", also at the top of the High School Board. Sciences with linked past threads include:
   - Anatomy/Physiology
   - Astronomy
   - Botany/Horticulture (Plants)
   - Ecology
   - Environmental Science
   - Equine (Horse) Science
   - Forensic Science
   - Geology/Earth Science
   - Marine Biology
   - Meteorology (Weather)
   - Zoology (Animals)

AP courses/tests might be another thing to consider for college-bound students who might be considering science/engineering fields as a career, or as a college major. The AP Sciences that are tested are:
   - Environmental Science
   - Biology
   - Chemistry
   - Physics: Algebra-based (Physics 1 or Physics 2)
  - Physics C (Electricity & Magnetism, or, Mechanics)

Also, you might consider outsourcing with specific online course providers. These 2 providers are WTMers, and repeatedly receive HIGH reviews:
  - Clover Creek: Conceptual Physics, with Jetta ( @MorningGlory )
  - Clover Valley: Chemistry (various levels), with Connie ( @Dicentra )

And another WTMer with solid teaching reviews:
   - Funda Funda Biology, with Dana ( @Clemsondana )

And this provider gets a lot of positive reviews:
   - Derek Owens -- Science (Physical Science, Physics), and Math (Pre-Algebra through Pre-Calculus)

To answer your specific question: 2 average DSs here who were not STEM-bound at the time of high school. We came from a gr. 1-8 science background of tons of library books, educational videos, hands-on activities, field trips, etc. and did not use a formal science program until 9th grade. 

We used, but disliked, 2 of the Apologia textbooks (too wordy, difficult to read due to layout, too focused on memorization for tests, some of the experiments were lame or didn't work). We also did portions of Macgraw-Hill's Biology textbook, Conceptual Chemistry (by John Suchocki), and Conceptual Physics (by Paul Hewitt).

I was pretty involved for all of our high school sciences, although a good portion of those textbooks could be done mostly solo by a student.

Do be aware that unless you outsource, you still will need to be involved a good amount for high school science to be able to mentor/tutor as needed, assist with experiments/hands-on, and do grading -- as well as the usually high school administrative tasks of record keeping/transcript and course description for each course.

BEST of luck in finding what is the best fit for high school science for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS -- Another option might be dual-enrolled Science courses at your local community college (CC). Some states offer FREE or low cost dual-enrollment to high school students, which provides dual-credit -- the credits count for both high school AND college, and potentially will transfer to a future 4-year university as part of the degree program.

Some community colleges require students to be older (14yo, or 16yo), or in the upper grades (11th or 12th grades) before the student can do dual enrollment. There may also be other restrictions, such as how many credits per semester the student can take, or, how many total credits the student may take as dual enrollment.

Do be aware that college courses move at "double the speed" of high school courses, AND, the grade is part of the student's permanent college record. So if your student started floundering, you would want to have them withdraw before the deadline to do so, and that way there would only be a "W" on the permanent college transcript, rather than a "D" or "F".

ETA -- It looks like you are in Washington state? If so, it looks like you may have the FREE Running Start program available to you for 11th & 12th grades.

Edited by Lori D.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Totally agreed with Lori about reading the science threads. They'll give you a really good sense.

In terms of the whole textbook+lab kit geared towards homeschool, the only secular option I'd recommend is Oak Meadow, which is pretty basic, but well-constructed and set up. But you'll find many other such options - mostly religious, but a few secular - in the science threads. I think one of the key things to ask yourself is whether you're really up for teaching and overseeing high school level science.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Disclaimer:   I am a humanities girl, through and through.  I have (mostly) humanities/creative/non-STEM focused kids.  Just so you know where my advice is coming from. 

I still wanted my students to get a decent, college-ready high school science sequence from me at home--but not STEM major college ready, because I knew that was beyond my abilities to teach.  If I had a more science-y child, it had to be outsourced, and I knew that.  Lori's post has some good ideas for that.  Conceptual Academy is also one I would use if we had the funds for it--  https://learnscience.academy/.

What we have done (at home) that worked well enough for us:

I've graduated two (so far) who have done what I laid out above; one child did get accepted to more than one university (with some scholarships, even!), and into a non-stem major. 🙂   And the fun part is that he still LIKES science.  He remembers basic physics concepts, basic chemistry concepts, and will try to explain them to his younger siblings if they need help.  Could I have gone more hard core? Yes, but what I gave him was enough for his future plans (so far), and he wasn't totally burnt out in the process. 

And some texts I will also be using with the ones still at home:

  • Conceptual Physical Science Explorations by Hewitt, Suchocki, and Hewitt-- a good, basic, entry-level high school course.  Covers beginning physics, chemistry, earth science, and astronomy.  I'm going to use this with one of mine who needs a "lighter" science next year.
  • Apologia biology-- yes, it is wordy.  But one of mine is a very words oriented learner, and she picked out Apologia for bio.  We'll be adding in crash course videos as needed and utilizing some resources from Sonlight to make it work for her. 

I also comb the Ambleside Online lists for reading suggestions to add to the textbook reading. 

Edited by Zoo Keeper
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I knew I couldn't teach high school science at the level I wanted it to be taught, so I turned to Dr. Wile for science in middle/high school and never looked back. His Berean Builders website has his new courses as well as the old Apologia ones that still have his name on them. It's very hands off for me; I just grade tests. And my 2 in college so far have been very well prepared, regardless of what some on this board will say 😉 He does offer both pre-recorded lectures and live classes too, but I haven't used those. If my DD has trouble with physics next year, I might.


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone, I will check out those pinned threads.

Some of my kids are headed to running start and dual CC enrollment, some aren't.  Of my oldest two, both currently 13, I have one of each.  So my college bound boy just needs two years of science with me, and my girl needs whatever we decide she needs (not college bound, multiple learning disorders). 

DS wants to be a computer science major which is technically science but mostly math. So I'm not super concerned about it being extremely beefy, but it does need to be legit. He takes coding online already and will start math online once he hits Algebra 2 and above (I've been pretty confident in Algebra and Geometry).  I wish I could afford online science as well but with 6 kids homeschooling I have to pick and choose.

I can put a sizable amount of side by side learning in, and I'm used to having to grade.  Especially as I combine my oldest several kids in science.  But a lot of parent-prep beforehand gets hard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Coco_Clark said:


DS wants to be a computer science major which is technically science but mostly math. So I'm not super concerned about it being extremely beefy, but it does need to be legit. He takes coding online already and will start math online once he hits Algebra 2 and above (I've been pretty confident in Algebra and Geometry).  I wish I could afford online science as well but with 6 kids homeschooling I have to pick and choose.

My oldest DS is currently getting his master's in CS, and he said his CS/engineering physics classes were no problem. Using calc instead of Algebra was new, but the physics concepts themselves were easy after Dr. Wile's explanations. (He did both physics books.) I also have an IRL friend whose daughter just graduated with a degree in chemistry and is going to work for a major drug company and she did Dr. Wile as well and was well prepared for college chem.

I'm not a math or science person either. Watching Video Text with them I could muddle through Alg 1 & 2 and Geom, but after that they have to self teach. We didn't do online courses, and oldest DS taught himself upper level math by self studying AoPS books. He tested out of Calc 1 and 2 and said he didn't encounter any new material til the middle of Calc 3. Just an encouragement that it is possible to give them a great science/math education even if it's not a strong point yourself and without spending a boatload of $$$ 😊. You just have to be good at finding the right resources! 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

We used ACE science for 9th and 10th grade with my oldest, and after some thought and researching, am going to do the same with my next high-schooler. I am generally a CM/Classical/Robinson sort of homeschooler and never would have considered ACE except for a recommendation (for the biology) from a CM-leaning source. What I liked about it:

Good coverage but not overwhelming (biology also included anatomy, phys. included some math)

Open and go

Very linear, uncluttered presentation

Video labs (and other videos at the time but they are getting updated) It would be easy to get lab kits and follow along.


Colorful diagrams


Easy to self-execute

Easy to grade (big deal when you're pulling that transcript together!)

Super affordable

Easy to supplement - I added some living books, some Novare text, and the Wes Olson 101 videos, and it felt like a really good year. I think I may add Mapping the Body with Art this time around...

My son moved on to outsourced classes for 11th and 12th grade science and did great. I think a lot of it is staying on the stick with math. I don't know that I'd do ACE for all four years of high school, but if you're looking for affordable, complete, and git'er-done so you can put more resources into other subjects for a bit, it's worth a look.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...