Thursday, March 29, 2007

Teaching Science

Science was never a favorite of mine when I was enrolled in school. I still don't love teaching all of those facts, but show me an experiment and I'm in! I love the hands- on approach. For that reason, my favorite science curriculum is Tops. No, I'm not being cute here, that really is the name.

Would you like to make an electrical circuit using aluminum foil, clothespins, flashlight bulbs, and size D batteries? How about popping a balloon with the same materials while learning about open and closed circuits? Perhaps you'd like to build a telegraph using wire, a paperclip, a clothespin, a nail, and a battery. Did you know that you can build a compass using a hair from your head, a magnet, and a straight pin? These are just a few of the exciting experiments that you get to do using Tops Electricity 32, and Tops Magnetism 33. That's my kind of learning! Tops carries a great many books that range from 15 to 30 lessons each. You could cover quite a few topics in a year that way. The books are inexpensive, too. (And I love the cute paperclip illustrations, and the fact that the author fell in love with the illustrator after she designed for him!)

Sonlight suggests using these books starting very young, but seriously, they can be used through high school. The student learns so much without even realizing that they are being taught!

I like the Sonlight science curriculum in general. I think it is very thorough. This is another area where I found ABeka and Bob Jones to be lacking. It's not that I thought that their material was "bad", there just wasn't enough of it for my taste. I also like the Switched on Schoolhouse science.

As the student moves into high school, Apologia has an excellent curriculum. These texts are very challenging. Home Science Tools is an excellent resource for purchasing science supplies.

Science is fun to share. What I mean by this is that it is much more exciting to experience with someone. If it is at all possible, try to do science with more than one student, or with the family. Experiments are a great way to spend family time.

My last suggestion is to invest in a microscope if you can afford it. Sonlight carries a model that is such a joy to use. It's easy to set up, and focus. Although we don't use this on a daily basis, I'm glad that we spent the money.


Anonymous said...

We used Apologia almost exclusively. Dr Wile (writer of the texts) spoke at a seminar a couple years back and said, "Make sure your students hates every type of science before they quit." Meaning, each science is vastly different so each science should be visited. My daughter did Apologia Physical, Biology, and Chemistry. She loved the 1st two and the second was a love/hate experience. These are honors classes..good to remember as they're are *very* challenging! She's now completing a non-honors Anatomy/Physiology course which she absolutely loves.

Anonymous said...

That "Tops" science site is great! I'm putting the link into my ISP newsletter. Thank you :o)

Kendra said...

Tops sounds like it has some fun stuff. But I'm so bad about being lazy when curriculums require me to gather lots of supplies. I need to get better about that.
Also, Apologia has three texts for elementary schoolers as well. We're currently using the Astronomy book, and both of my daughters (7 and 4) love it.

Tracy said...

I've tried to give the websites for the curriculum itself rather than for a dealer. I didn't want to push business any one way. That being said, if you buy a science curriculum from Sonlight, they also have a non-consumables package that "gathers" everything you need to complete every experiment. Quite handy for people who may not have access to the supplies easily, or feel overwhelmed by the gathering. Also, the other website that I mentioned, Home Teaching Tools is great for this.
I'm sure that your Apologia curriculum is wonderful, too. As I said in my first post about homeschooling, I'm not trying to stress anyone, or cause them to second guess what they are using. If you like what you're doing, great! Keep at it! Have a blessed day!

Kendra said...

That's good to know, Tracy. Experiments are so much fun for the kids. I'll have to head on over to the Sonlight site and request a catalog :)

Becky said...

Thanks for stopping by Tracy. And thanks for the congratulations on our win last night. I am afraid we get a bit carried away here in central Florida. We love our Gators.

I enjoyed reading through your blog. I have to say that as a teacher (now in the school system and a homeschooling mom for a number of years) I do appreciate the Saxon math. It may be a bit dry, but you cannot beat it for the content and the way it builds on itself and reviews all it teaches. But ... that being said ... it is always best to use what your kids learn best with ... and to keep in mind that any curriculum is YOUR TOOL to use as you see fit. You are experienced enough to know that you don't want to be bound by any curriculum. So have fun, no matter how you teach it!