Monday, March 21, 2011

Changes: Science

Science hasn't always gone well for us.  When I first started homeschooling, I was trying to do it completely on my own.  I wasn't aware of the existence of curricula other than Sonlight, and I didn't feel led to use it.  I didn't do a very good job, and now I find myself with a 6th grader who hasn't covered many topics often covered in the elementary years.  This year, Mikaela wanted to continue with our Zoology studies.  Sam asked for chemistry and physics this year and found that he didn't like the chemistry I chose (Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry Level 1) because it was too simplistic.  I'm afraid he'll feel the same way about the physics course which is the same curriculum and level as the chemistry.   My goal is to finish our curriculum this year in a more interesting manner and come up with a plan for the future.

For physics, I want to go through our curriculum quickly.  We could probably complete the reading, experiment, and lab in a day.  Then I want to use what we learned and apply it to a marble run.  Eventually, I would like to build a large marble run utilizing many of the topics we covered in the text and have that lead into creating a small Rube Goldberg machine (Sam asked to build one). 

For zoology, I want to use a project-based method of learning the material.   After I identify the key concepts in the chapter, I'll create a variety of project options for them to chose from.  I think they will enjoy this, and it will stretch them more than just reading the book would.  The only drawback is that if I have them do a project for each key concept, we'll never finish the book before summer.  I haven't figured out exactly how to handle this yet.

Here's an example of a project chart I created for our chapter on fish in Apologia's Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth day.  Ideally, we would work on one key concept at a time, and they would pick one of the three project choices listed for that concept.  They may also choose a different project provided they run their idea by me and get approval.

The project method described above is how I will probably approach Mikaela's science for the next two year's, as well.  My original plan was to use Apologia's General and Physical Science textbooks because they cover many of the gaps in her science education, thus far.  However, looking again at the curriculum, I think she'll hate it and I'm not thrilled with it either.  Instead, I think I'll design our own general science course comprised of units we've missed or wouldn't otherwise cover in later sciences, using creative projects to learn the material and document understanding. Unlike this year, we should have plenty of time to complete projects for each unit of study.

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