Monday, March 3, 2014

A Different Approach to High School Chemistry and Biology

Someone recently wrote to my homeschool group's email list asking about high school chemistry. She said, "I’m not sure that I can teach high school chemistry at home, it wasn’t my favorite subject.  How did you handle this subject at home and can you recommend an avenue of support for a class like this?  I can probably do it, but not without some outside support."

Many people suggested our local co-op's classes which use a series of popular Christian textbooks. Since I am on the leadership team of the co-op, I do realize that many people love these textbooks, but they haven't been right for our family. I wanted to give her a different perspective. This is what I wrote to her:

We have not used science textbooks for high school or junior high in our homeschool. I personally feel that they are too much like "school" and that is one of the things I want to avoid - doing a subject a certain way, just because that's how it's done in school. My own personal (and apparently unpopular) opinion is that most high school science textbooks do a poor job of actually teaching science concepts, as they are bogged down in detail and overly complex. Since none of my kids (so far) has shown an interest in science careers, I feel comfortable giving them a basic grounding in the topics. If I had a child that wanted to enter a science field, I would ensure that they received a thorough education to prepare them for college level courses.
My daughter in 11th grade is currently using Chemistry 101 from Timberdoodle - She likes it. It is a DVD-based curriculum with a printable "guidebook" (textbook). A suggested schedule with additional activities is included, which we follow quite closely. She is also using the Quality Science Labs MicroChem kit - - to provide the lab portion of this course. My daughter is currently working through this kit as well. I highly recommend it as it contains EVERYTHING you need other than common household items like granulated sugar or a black marker.

She also used the Biology 101 DVD course, along with a dissection lab taught by a friend of mine.

My oldest son used Switched-on Schoolhouse for Chemistry - He liked it well enough, but I wanted something different. He also used the Quality Science Labs MicroChem kit since I didn't think the SOS lab simulations online were thorough enough. He is taking Chemistry in college right now and says his high school course was adequate for preparation. For his Biology, we muddled through a course I put together myself after we realized how much we did not like the traditional textbook approach.

I hope this helps some of you figure out your options for high school science courses.

1 comment:

Wee Pip said...

It is a relief to know that there are other options besides textbooks for high school science. Textbooks have not been a good fit, here, and I can only imagine that we won't someday wake up and love them. I've decided that my 1st dd will not do labs for biology. She'll do labs for the other sciences, but since MI only requires 1 lab science, I feel pretty good about skipping bio labs for her. My 2nd dd will be the opposite and will probably focus much heavier on bio labs than anything else. Anyhow, that's what its looking like today:) I plan to work with their strengths, and not force the things that go against their very core.