Hey fellow homeschooling parents, can you believe that the end of summer is looming? The month of August is bearing down on us, and I find myself scrambling as I plan for the upcoming school year, which for my family, will commence in a few short weeks. As I try to wrangle my figurative ducks, and get them in their proverbial row, I'm happy that I do have one subject already sorted out - science! The past decade, and maybe just a bit longer than that, has seen us try out various science programs. There have been some decent contenders, but we always circle back to our favorite, which is Apologia . This summer, this award winning homeschool company provided us with Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition to use and review.
This General Science set is designed for the middle school grades. The intent is that it is the first science course taken in junior high. This is an updated edition, with increased focus on helping students transition to high school work, including the ACT and SAT tests. As you would expect with a General Science course, this one covers various branches of science including:
- Earth Study
- Environmental Science
We received the hardcover textbook, the spiral bound student notebook, and the softcover Solutions and Test manual that includes one test packet. This course follows a 4 day per week schedule, broken up into 14 modules to be completed in 33 weeks. These are the modules:
Module 1 - The History of Science - Search for the Truth
Module 2 - Scientific Inquiry and the Scientific Method
Module 3 - Documenting and Interpreting Experimental Results
Module 4 - Scientific Analysis and History
Module 5 - Earth Science - Astronomy
Module 6 - Earth Science - Geology and Paleontology
Module 7 - Earth Science - Meteorology and Oceanology
Module 8 - General Chemistry
Module 9 - General Physics
Module 10 - Life Science
Module 11 - General Biology
Module 12 - Marine Science
Module 13 - Environmental Science
Module 14 - Science and Creation
Thorough, yes? Apologia never lets me down. All of this can look a bit overwhelming, but as they always do, Apologia provides detailed information for...everything. The Student Workbook provides an Introduction section with parent notes that talk about the reasons for note taking, and experiments. You'll learn tips in grading experiments and exams that includes a grade recording chart. This is also where the Daily Schedule will be found.
The textbook has over 400 pages, and is written in a conversational tone that students will find appealing. I remember some of the science books from my school days, and they were so dry, technical, and just boring. The writing style here though, is much more engaging. In traditional Apologia style, the book is also filled with colorful photos and illustrations. Each module includes the text of course, but also sidebars with interesting facts, vocabulary words, What to Do sections that give instructions for activities, On Your Own exercises, and Timelines.
|Textbook includes instructions for experiments.|
|Explore More provides additional facts and information relating to the topic.|
|On Your Own suggests activities to do...on your own.|
The Student Notebook is used along side of the text, and is broken down into easy to follow sections.
- Daily Lesson Plan
- Daily Assignment Schedule
- Note taking pages
- On Your Own Questions
- Extra pages for various notes
- Creation Connection Pages - these are to reflect on intellectual, emotional, and spiritual thoughts.
|Apologia offers help in grading tests and experiments.|
|Daily and weekly schedules keep you on track.|
|Sample work from my 13 year old.|
|Another sample includes a timeline.|
The Solutions and Tests Packet is just that, but even this is provides helpful details in various aspects of the course, as well as administering the tests themselves. The softcover book includes the tests and solutions, and then there is a separate, consumable test packet. In keeping with the intent that this course help middle school students transition to high school, the first two tests in this course are supposed to be open book, in order to allow teens to become familiar with the test format.
|Apologia wants students to succeed. Tests 1 & 2 are open book so they can learn the format.|
As students move into high school, they begin to work more independently. The detailed steps provided here make it easy for your teens to do just that. My daughters tend to be self starters in their schoolwork, for most subjects at least, but it sure makes it a breeze for me to stay on top of things when I have everything broken down into bite size pieces. Our lives and schedules have been crazier than usual this year, and it's incredibly helpful to have this part of the planning in place.
Interestingly enough, my 13 year old was actually already working through the 2nd Edition of this very course before this review came along, and did enjoy the material. We were interested to see what changes this new version might include. My girl couldn't wait to begin when our package arrived, and as she made an initial pass through the books, came to the conclusion that the updated Edition was a huge improvement. The modules were a little shorter and concise. We also noted that while the previous version could have several pages in a row with nothing but text, the 3rd Edition is filled with colorful pictures and graphics. My daughter loved that change.
Thoughts from my 13 year old:
" This new edition is much better. I like that the book is easy to follow, and has more pictures. The layout of the Student Workbook looks almost like a scrapbook, and is fun to look through. I like that the modules are not too long, because the last version had so much information that I felt like I couldn't retain it all. This one is shorter, and more compact. They also mix up the way questions are asked. Instead of all fill in the blank, or essay, there are also multiple choice, and matching. I love that there are more charts, and illustrations in this new edition. The vocabulary words are now in the workbook, and writing those out helps me remember the definitions better. This is much more enjoyable to use."
I can't say that I'm terribly surprised that this course gets our approval, as we are an Apologia loving family. But, they did manage to take a good program and make it even better. If you haven't settled on a science course yet, this is one that you should consider. You'll be hard pressed to find another program that is as Biblically solid and complete as this one.