I haven’t elaborated much on a lot of my current thinking regarding science. On the one hand, I think the model of studying the three “big” sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) at the same time, a strand of each, showing how they intersect–that’s good, good stuff. On the other hand, I don’t have the desire nor the time to put that together right now. So, I’m going to take our cue from that plan without following it exactly.

What do I mean?

Next year, because of our “Hogwarts” school, I’m going to have EG learn some basic botany, with botany being an offshoot of biology. She’s also going to do some basic astronomy, for the same wizardly reason, and then her main science will be chemistry. I intend to have her work through some of her physics-based science kits that she has not yet completed periodically as well. This isn’t a huge expenditure of time, and I don’t have a good sense of how it will look, but essentially I want her to spend 16-34 one-hour sessions during her 2011-2012 each on astronomy, botany, and physics. That’s not a lot, and I think it’s doable.

Then, the next year, I’ll probably have her do some work on cells and genetics (rather than straight botany), plus continuing with astronomy. Her main focus will be physics, but we’ll add in some chemistry work to review and refresh (more on that later). The following year will be biology, with some time spent on astronomy plus physics and chemistry to keep them fresh in her mind. You see where this is going? Good, ‘cause that’s about as far as I have worked out. ;)

So, how to go about reviewing and refreshing chemistry? As it turns out, I’ve gathered several resources and will be working on gathering just a few more both to enhance her study during next year and provide an opportunity for review in the following years.

Starting in May and continuing through June and July, EG will read back through The Elements, which she completed near the end of third grade. She will also watch the lectures from the Great Courses’ High School Chemistry. Her main text will be Spectrum Chemistry, which is nicely designed to take three days a week (including lab) and take just thirty-two weeks. To supplement and provide extra practice, I have The 100+ Series Chemistry. I just received this today and it is awesome! I plan to check out some of the other books in the series. She also will read The Elements and The Joy of Chemistry.

During the next few years, she can do the exercises from The 100+ Series Chemistry again, since it’s a “reproducible activities” book. She can also watch the Great Courses’ High School Chemistry again, but use the accompanying workbook. She can re-read the supplemental resources mentioned above. I will have her work through Carbon Chemistry in order to go more in-depth with regards to organic chemistry. I also purchased (at one of the closing Borders stores) Chemistry for Dummies and its accompanying workbook. Finally, with regards to experimentation and labs, she’s already wanted the Thames & Kosmos Chem3000 Kit, so after we take out a second mortgage to pay for it, she can use that for several years too. There are additional resources listed on an amazon wishlist, including Caveman Chemistry, Chemical Magic, and The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry.

Why to go to all this trouble? I think that if we have time to see material twice or even three times, it helps to solidify it in our minds. I think that it’s important to review concepts each year rather than just hope we retain them. I know that sometimes one presentation of a concept will just “click” better than another. As an additional bonus, I won’t be trying to fit every amazing resource I can find into just one thirty-six week school year. Instead, EG will have a year of concentrated study of chemistry followed by plenty of time to review, explore, refresh, and deepen over the years to come. Her stated goal is to take all four offered AP science courses, so she will revisit chemistry in high school with a comprehensive course.


Smrt Mama said...

Is there a similar Spectrum book for bio? I like that online biology course, but it's a lot of "find this here, find that there."

Kash said...

No, they had plans years ago to expand their offerings but nothing new has appeared for several years now. I have no idea what we're going to do for biology when the time comes. I may go to the trouble to adapt the BCBS blue text (Biology: A Molecular Approach) or the BSBS green text (Biology: An Ecological Approach) to home, despite the fact that they are definitely classroom texts. They're good, solid biology, though, and I would recommend them.

Kash said...

Here is the BSCS site. Under "Comprehensive Programs" there's a link to each of the texts I mentioned. I don't know much about Biology: A Human Approach but I think it's designed for 'general ed' vs. college-prep tracks, possibly?

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