Thursday, August 19, 2010

Real Science 4 Kids

Real Science-4-Kids, Chemistry Level II, Student TextbookAs a homeschooling mom, I love planning curricula. I love the catalogues, the books, the ideas, the choices, the freedom! Freedom? Yes, the freedom to choose to teach my children in ways they will enjoy and be captivated (I hope). That being said, sometimes they have to work on things they don't enjoy. That's life, right? Well, I thought I'd do a few posts about some of the curricula I've chosen this year that has me excited. These aren't in any particular order. Although my children always ask me what favorites I have, I hate choosing one thing over another. So, as I said before, these posts won't be in any particular order.

Nolan has always had an interest in chemistry. Just yesterday when we were making pasta he asked what made the bubbles in the boiling water. I was surprised by this question as I know he knows heat makes water boil (212 degrees F., right?). Yes, he knew that. What he wondered was why the bubbles formed in the water? What made the air pockets? Where did the air come from? 

Of course, if I had had my brain together, I could have talked about H2O. My brain wasn't together, we needed to eat and get to a piano lesson. So.....I just told him it was good he would be studying chemistry this year. Not a proud homeschooling mom moment. Reality is, I am glad he will be studying chemistry. He asks me questions I can't answer all the time.

In the past, I've always followed The Well Trained Mind when it came to science. One topic per year in four year cycles (Biology, Earth Science/Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics). Use a spine science book (generally from Usborne or Kingfisher), read, experiment, sketch, write. The only downside to this method was that I was having to decide which topics to cover. So, when it came to chemistry this year, I wasn't feeling confident in my ability to pick the correct topics in the correct order, etc. I went on a search. 

I discovered Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Level 2. This is real chemistry. I took chemistry in my junior year of high school. That was a long time ago. To be honest, I didn't actually understand it then (although I loved all the math that went with it). I really wanted Nolan to have the opportunity to study chemistry in a systematic but enjoyable way. This curriculum does it. I bought the ebook because it was more updated than the paper copy (and less expensive, too). A teacher's manual and lab book are available, too.

The program is only 10 lessons long but I think we'll have plenty to work on. To be honest, there were lots of things I didn't remember learning (what's a mole?). Here are the chapters:

  1. Matter, Mass and Moles
  2. Chemical Bonding
  3. Chemical Reactions
  4. Acids, Bases, and pH
  5. Acid-Base Reactions
  6. Mixtures
  7. Separating Mixtures
  8. The Chemistry of Carbon
  9. Polymers
  10. Biological Polymers
This level 2 program is geared for 7-9th grades. I read all of the first two chapters and felt it very challenging stuff but well explained (ie: I was able to understand it after thinking A LOT). Since Nolan tends to be smarter than I am and can remember many more things than I can, I think he'll be fine. We'll take it slow unless he wants to move faster. The chapters are colorful with lots of large diagrams and pictures. The end of each chapter includes a summary and study questions. There is a lab for each chapter that utilizes the scientific method and encourages the student to come up with his own experiments. 

CHEM C2000 Intermediate Chemistry KitThe Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)My hope is to purchase a chemistry set for Nolan at Christmas to further enhance this program and to keep his interest. I also have the book The Mystery of the Periodic Table to include in his study. He loves to read and so I am always trying to find living books to incorporate in every lesson.

Real Science 4 Kids is published by Gravitas Publications. It seems to be a growing company with new products every time I look at the web site. The Level 1 (grades 4-6) programs include Biology, Chemistry and Physics. They also have Pre level 1 for early elementary. Check out their web site for more information.

I'll keep you posted on Nolan's progress with this program throughout the year. We start school on August 30th so we have just a few more days of summer. Look for more posts about my favorite curricula for this year in the days ahead. 

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