29 March 2013

Science Thoughts

The research into science options for next year is now in full swing! Before I get into what I've researched, let me give a brief explanation about the method explained in The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM). (Note: Susan Wise Bauer [SWB] is much better at explaining this than I am, so if you're wanting to do this in your homeschool, I highly suggest reading it directly from her lips! If you're just family wanting to read my blog, this should suffice!) 

The basic premise that is recommended for 5th grade science, or logic stage biology, is to spend 3 hours per week doing biology, broken up into two days. The first day, the student should spend about an hour and a half doing experiments using the scientific method. As they do the experiment, they should fill out lab sheets and make sketches. The second day is used for reading about the topic of the experiment and writing a short summary of what they learned. I think a paragraph or two is what is expected at this point. For the experiments, SWB suggests several intermediate and advanced science kits to choose from, including a blood typing kit, a small dissection kit that contains small critters such as worms, and a carnivorous plant biodome, just to name a few.

This approach to science looks like it's right up K's alley! She loves hands-on things, and she loves writing about what she learns! The only caveat is that if my ambitious daughter manages to work her way through every single experiment kit, which is quite possible, it will cost over $400. That's a little pricey for one year of science for one student, if you ask me! Especially since a lot of the kits are consumable and would have to be repurchased for H in a couple years.

I went to TWTM forums and asked about this and was pointed to Elemental Science. Some wonderful homeschooling parents, who happen to have degrees in science, decided to make a curriculum that closely followed TWTM approach to science. (You can read about them here.) After looking through the logic stage biology sample, I think I might be sold! As always, I reserve the right to change my mind a hundred times before purchasing, but at least I have a viable option.

So, here are the options that I think I have it narrowed down to for science for next year:

Option 1: Follow TWTM on my own, allowing K's interests to determine which science kits we start with. If we go with this approach, I found some experiment books at the library that look promising to use along with the kits to save some money.





Option 2: Elemental Science's Biology for the Logic Stage. This is the option that I'm currently leaning toward, for a few reasons. First of all, it's all laid out for me. K won't get to chose her experiments, but I don't think she'll mind. She will probably happily follow the student guide, checking things off as she completes them. Not only are the experiments all laid out for you, but they provide the experiment sheets, sketches for the student to color and label, 2-day or 5-day schedules for you to follow, and unit tests. In addition, you can purchase a kit that contains a lot of the items you will need for the experiments. No more having to gather every single item for every single experiment. 

For 3rd-grade science for H, I was leaning toward Real Science 4 Kids (RS4K) Elementary Chemistry, which looks like a really solid program. RS4K is also one of the options that SWB suggests in TWTM if you don't want to pull together your own stuff. Now I'm thinking I might do Elemental Science Chemistry for the Grammar Stage instead. It will end up being quite a bit cheaper, as I can get the teacher's guide and the student guide for $17 as an ebook, compared to $67 for just the books for RS4K. ($97 for all of the items I was going to get, not including materials for the experiments.) Even if I purchase the kit from Elemental Science, I'll be at $77, so it's the cheaper option by far. She will also continue on with Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day at our homeschool co-op. 

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