What is the best secular Science curriculum? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 01-12-2007, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Or....ANY secular science curriculum? I have been trying to find something for years and am running into wall after wall. My boys are in 4th and 7th grades. Anything in the upper elem. to early high ages would be great.

Any recommendations?

Nicole ~ mama to 3 energetic boys and one crazy girl
~Home water birthing, homeschooling birth photographer~
http://www.HoustonBirthPhotographer.com
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#2 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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We have just started using Real Science for Real Kids, biology. There are 3 units I believe. You might want to look at Rainbow Resources for it. The kids like it. I use it with my 11 y/o, but my 6 y/o follows along.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#3 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 12:44 AM
 
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I have never found anything I really like. There is Noeo (I think) Science and REAL Science. Both are secular. Noeo is pricey but is supposed to be good.

I have gotten to the point that I have given up finding one. We follwo the special exhibits at the science center, LOL. Whatever the Sci Center has going on is what we study. Right now it is the human body.
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#4 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 01:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Mom4tot View Post
We have just started using Real Science for Real Kids, biology. There are 3 units I believe. You might want to look at Rainbow Resources for it. The kids like it. I use it with my 11 y/o, but my 6 y/o follows along.
If this is "Real Science 4 Kids" by Gravitas Publishing, I like it too. There are three separate subjects in Level I (intended for 4th-6th grade): Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and the Level II subjects are gradually being released (Chem II is out now) for the 7th-9th graders. It's sort of secular, in that there's no mention of God or creation, though the writer/publisher are strongly of a creationist bent, I'm told. Biology I doesn't include any discussion of evolution, and because of the limited scope of a biology text suitable for a 9-year-old, that lack of any mention of evolution doesn't really feel like a purposeful omission. I suspect that I may not feel the same about Biology II but I'll reserve judgement on that until I see it.

Biology I is a robust study of taxonomy, cellular structure, plant structure and reproduction, kingdom protista and animal life cycles.

Chem I covers the basis of atomic and molecular structure, different types of chemical bonding, simple chemical reactions, biological molecules, solutions vs. admixtures, acid-base chemistry and several other topics at a basic level.

I typically dislike child-friendly science programs, finding them overly sugar-coated and simplistic and the lab work completely self-evident. My kids hate cartoony stuff, and they don't like 'science experiments' that are actually recipes with obvious correct results. This program doesn't strike me the same way. It's attractively laid out, but without too much visual distraction. The lab exercises are sometimes a little contrived, especially with the introductory chapters, but the results are not always self-evident and my kids actually enjoy them. I love that the terminology is correct, that it is not assumed that the word 'mitochondrion' is too much of a mouthful for a pre-teen. In essence, this program is high school science stripped of the high school math.

It would be possible to do each of the Level I subjects in as little as a month or so. We tend to do one chapter every week or two, meaning each subject takes about 12 - 15 weeks. We've just about finished Biology I and Chemistry I with my 8- and 10-year-olds. My 13yo has read through both texts and enjoyed them, even though she hasn't sat with the rest of us and discussed stuff and completed the lab stuff. We'll definitely use Physics I and Chem II in the future and may give Biology II a try when it comes out.

Miranda

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#5 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 01:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Biology I is a robust study of taxonomy, cellular structure, plant structure and reproduction, kingdom protista and animal life cycles.

Chem I covers the basis of atomic and molecular structure, different types of chemical bonding, simple chemical reactions, biological molecules, solutions vs. admixtures, acid-base chemistry and several other topics at a basic level.
Miranda
Hi Miranda
I was just reading on another board about this program and that the woman felt Chemistry 1 was good but that Biology 1 was weak and limited in scope and that Physics 1 was only so-so. I'm interested (given your background) that you didn't find this, particularly with Biology.

I literally have this in my Amazon basket and was going to order tonight. I took biology out because of this other review and now I am wondering if I should re-reconsider

Can you elaborate any more on the non-Chemistry books in this program? Oh - and did you order the teacher's manual? Is it necessary/useful?
Thanks for your input
Karen

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#6 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 02:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Biology I doesn't include any discussion of evolution, and because of the limited scope of a biology text suitable for a 9-year-old, that lack of any mention of evolution doesn't really feel like a purposeful omission. I suspect that I may not feel the same about Biology II but I'll reserve judgement on that until I see it.
You won't find any mention of evolution; the author is a staunch proponent of ID. While she apparently doesn't explicitly promote ID, I'm wary nonetheless.

FWIW, we have one of the Noeo kits (Physics I) and, while not ecstatic, we rather like it. R.E.A.L. Science doesn't yet have any units above early elementary (and won't anytime soon because Pandia Press is looking for a new author). DD1 did the Life unit, heavily supplemented. She liked the hands on approach, but it was far from indepth (but probably appropriate for most first graders). My World Science looks interesting. Math/Science Nucleus is free and could readily be adapted.
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#7 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 02:52 AM
 
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Hi Miranda
I was just reading on another board about this program and that the woman felt Chemistry 1 was good but that Biology 1 was weak and limited in scope and that Physics 1 was only so-so. I'm interested (given your background) that you didn't find this, particularly with Biology.
This is fresh in my mind as I'm currently about 3/4 of the way through Biology I with my newly-8yo. Chemistry is definitely the more challenging of the two programs. In biology we've just finished with observing and feeding a mixed culture of protista. We have a really good microscope and she was absolutely thrilled with everything we could see. We went back and did a lot of cellular-level observing with the 'scope that wasn't actually in the lab manual but which seemed logical to us, since the intracellular organelles were described and illustrated in the earlier chapters. So we have done more lab microscope stuff than was specifically directed.

Over the years we've used our Digital Blue (lower power, lower optics, but plenty-fun) microscope, and been involved in a science-oriented gardening and environmental club, so I knew my kids had learned a lot of biology already. The bio program has definitely been less challenging to them, and I suppose it's hard for me to objectively know how much of that is due to their background. But basic biology is conceptually pretty simple, especially if, as Keller does, one steers clear of teaching reams of factoids.

I can't comment on Physics I as I've not yet laid eyes on it.

You need either the teacher's manual or the Lab worksheets, because the lab work is not described in the student textbook. The teacher's manual contains some additional background info and explanations, as well as reproductions of the lab worksheets. If you have a reasonable understanding of science, you'll find the student text plus lab worksheets sufficient.

Miranda

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#8 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 02:53 AM
 
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You won't find any mention of evolution; the author is a staunch proponent of ID. While she apparently doesn't explicitly promote ID, I'm wary nonetheless.
I did mention that I'm aware of that. I'm not sure what you mean by being wary, but I can assure you that there's no mention of ID in either the Biology I or Chemistry I books.

Miranda

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#9 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 03:05 AM
 
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Thanks Miranda for the extra info.
I'm putting it back in the amazon basket.
Karen

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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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#10 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 04:19 AM
 
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I did mention that I'm aware of that. I'm not sure what you mean by being wary, but I can assure you that there's no mention of ID in either the Biology I or Chemistry I books.
Sorry, missed that. I'm wary because I don't know enough about ID (and don't really care to learn more) to notice if any of the incidental jargon slips in. The fact that Arn is a major distributor of RS4K is enough to give me pause. FWIW, it's the same with History; I don't know enough myself to know which stories have an archaeological basis, so we use History Odyssey rather than SOTW by itself. We still read all the myths, Christian or not, but I can at least put them in context.
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#11 of 11 Old 01-13-2007, 12:35 PM
 
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You know, I'm just not a big curriculum fan when it comes to science...talk about a part of education that LIVES in curiosity and wonder!

Follow their interests, and talk about whether they want to do an organized approach to the sciences at all. One good supplement to any organized or unorganized approach is A Private Eye - which begins the theme of "inquiry-based science." It can be used with any age, but I would say 2nd grade & up, just to get the more creative approach to science attitude.

My own son (11) wants to be some sort of scientist, so we've decided to begin a conscious, organized study of chemistry...but the curriculum I have seen is all too flat & lifeless. We're using mostly FUN books and hands-on Acorn Naturalists science resources...(and some others), here are the chemistry choices I put together (with my son) for chemistry -

Chemical Reactions is a simple start (3 sessions, grades 6-10, only $8.95), if you prefer they have some "mystery" kits which we have alreay used - just to spark interest.

Of Cabbages and Chemistry - exploring PH (4 sessions, Grades 4-8, $10.45) I just don't want to do this first because it will stink so much!

Dry Ice Investigations (11 sessions, Grades 6-8, $20.95)

Acid Rain (8 sessions, Grades 6-10, $20.95)

To complement them, I'm planning to use Joy Hakim's History of Science (Book 2) and a Waldorf syllabus -Golden Beetle.

That's a total of 26 sessions, averaging about $10 per
month if done weekly, it really ends up being a very inexpensive chemistry option for almost any family.

For next fall, I am looking at getting this much more expensive chemistry kti from Acorn to use with:

Mystery of the Periodic Table
http://www.amazon. com/Mystery- Periodic- Living-History-
Library/dp/18839377 1X

Uncle Tungsten
(a bestselling novel, chosen by NY Times and Amazon & others as a
best book of 2001) This book is like a love affair with chemistry, but has a story set during WWII with some themes that you should pre-read even for your teen to see if he is ready. (To use with explosion experiemnts especially as in the book they keep blowing up the kitchen & shed!)

We also have a Singapore Science which a wonderful friend gave me that we'll use some activities from. It's a good supplement, but I would not use this or any other "curriculum" exclusively. They should be a support post for creative learning - where your child turns to page 50 one day and page 32 the next.

Even the best scientists say they don't often use "scientific method" or other silly rules when exploring the universe - big & small. Watch the science channel together too, and see how they do stuff like locking three great scientists on a train and free-associate together the great questions of cosmology!

Neat, exciting, and inspiring...

Lucie

P.S. oops, I forgot to mention poetry! The bards have a science wisdom that many adult scientists revere. Pick up some poetry books at the library and get inspired.
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