8.11.09

Science, Revisited

Science should be the easy thing. My educational background is in science, and I have a strong idea of what I want EG to cover. There doesn't seem to be a curriculum that's structured in a way that even approaches what I want, though. It needs to be at least somewhat homeschool-friendly, it needs to be totally secular, and it needs to be rigorous. It doesn't need to have unnecessary busywork; EG would definitely like to accelerate her science, and plodding through a long textbook doesn't appeal to either of us.

I entertained the faint hope of pulling together resources from experiment kits and living books, as I generally have for past years. Already this year, though, I was having trouble finding books at the appropriate level. Most science books written at the adult level assume a working knowledge of high school level science; they aren't seeking to impart it. Most children's or young adult books are below the correct level. I had discarded the idea of Prentice Hall's Science Explorer series (at least as a main text), based on the fact that it's really not written for homeschoolers at all, plus the fact that it would be difficult to accelerate through a textbook. I may still purchased used copies to have available as additional reference material.

When I first found the CTY online courses, I thought that was the answer, until I discovered the price. Then I discovered that CTY uses the PLATO courses... which are available for a far more reasonable price through the homeschoolbuyerscoop. Now we're talking!

I also wanted to take the time to do a history of science course... and a general science overview using The Joy of Science and the Teaching Company lecture series by the same name. I couldn't see exactly how we'd manage to fit in both a history of science and a general science, and still hit high school science in seventh grade, but it seemed like maybe I'd manage to figure it out, somehow.

So, my tentative plans for EG, as of today. Subject to change at any moment. :)

Fifth grade: Evolution & Genetic class (taught by me) at co-op [hopefully this will happen, anyway], PLATO Life Science, PLATO Earth & Space Science, and limited experiments as applicable for life, earth, and space science.

Late fifth grade/Sixth grade: The Joy & History of Science. I'm going to have to combine these, I decided. I'll start working on my syllabus sometime soon. Resources that I plan to use: The Joy of Science, The Joy of Science TTC lecture series, Science: The Definitive Visual Guide, Joy Hakim's Story of Science books, and one or two science kits. I'm looking at Thames and Kosmos' Milestones in Science (which would dovetail nicely with the historical approach), as well as Core Science MS-1 and Elements of Science. The last two appear to have significant overlap, so we'd definitely only use one of those two, but I have no idea what selection or combination to use. I will probably email Thames & Kosmos and ask if I can preview the experiment lists or something.

I could just ask which kit has the fewest number of experiments involving balloons.

I hate balloons.

Seventh grade: PLATO high school biology and/or PLATO high school chemistry. These are the courses used by CTY's online course, which says it usually takes six months to complete a course. Now, EG could always change her mind, but when we've talked about it previously, she said she liked the idea of accelerating and doing both in one year. Oi! I don't know what labs we'd do. A limited number, for sure, and I might decide she should use something like this book instead of a preset kit.

Eighth grade: Physics, most likely using Hewitt's Conceptual Physics.

Ninth-twelfth grade: APs. Either all four AP sciences, or three AP sciences and one year dual enrollment (if she wants to do even more in one area, for instance, or take geology or astronomy).

The only thing that really bothers me is using so much computer-based learning, so I'll have to be careful to flesh it out with appropriate books. The other potential issue is getting my "Joy & History of Science" syllabus done before it's actually time to start. Likely, though, I should get the history one for fifth grade done first. Details, details!
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"A little rebellion every now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson