Thursday, March 26, 2015

Homeschooling Evolution

Do you homeschool for religious reasons or are you a secular homeschooler?

One of the key topics that seem to separate the two is science.  One side tends to teach Creationism and the other side tends to teach Evolution.  Because homeschooling had its beginnings with the religious homeschoolers much of the science curriculum out there teaches science from a Creation world view.

But what if you are a secular homeschooler?  Sometimes it is difficult to find curriculum that includes Evolution.  And keep in mind that Evolution does not always mean stating that man evolved from apes.  Sometimes it just embraces the idea that species mutate and adapt over time. 

I thought I would offer you an article and some resources if you homeschooling evolution.  Many of the “mainstream” homeschool curriculum companies can be used if you decide to homeschool science from a Creation standpoint. 

Some homeschoolers even teach Creationism and Evolutionary theory side by side, comparing and contrasting the two.  In our homeschool, though we identify as secular homeschoolers, we do teach both. 

Which worldview do you teach in your homeschool science?


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Science Fair Project

Does your child need to do a science fair project?  Some people would answer that they homeschool and so they do not need to do a science fair project.  I don’t normally make my daughter do a science fair project, but the homeschool co-op that we belong to requires that all students who are enrolled in a science course participate in the science fair.

I walked through and was amazed that the range of projects students had chosen.  Some of the typical elementary science fair projects had to do with plants response to light.  One of the high school student’s science fair project was to build a solar power set up from scratch and compare the differences in performance between the home made solar panel and a commercially available solar panel.

We are not going to enter a science fair, but I do have a project my daughter will be doing.  She is going to be testing the difference between the four water sources on our property.  She will do tests on city water (tap water), well water, the creek water, and the pond water. She will test water chemistry as well as make slide to go under the microscope. 

Will your student be completing a science fair project this year?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Earth and Space Science

From the time she was old enough to pick one up; my daughter has been a rock collector.  No matter   where we went we would have rocks on the return trip.  Sometimes the rock would be gravel from the parking lot – no matter, the rock was interesting or cool or pretty and she collected it.  When we got ready to move, we found containers full of rocks – jars, boxes, bags, etc.  As she got older she continued to be interested in rocks but expanded that interest to the broader discipline of geology and after learning about the Earth expanded again to include the planets.

Earth and Space science is an exciting part of learning for middle school and high school students.  It offers both the tangible (rocks to hold in your hand) and the intangible (imaginings of the possible planets out there orbiting an alien sun).   You can make theory real when almost any creek bed can show the layers of soil eroded by water.   A lunar eclipse can be watched and studied on a clear night almost anywhere.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Health Games

When my daughter was in about the fourth grade she completed her science curriculum for the year early.  Because we homeschool year round we could have continued with the next year’s science curriculum but my daughter is fanatical about science and would study science to the exclusion of anything else given the chance.

We decided that holding out the next year’s science curriculum as a “carrot” to give her incentive to finish her other courses for fourth grade would work well.  At the same time, having no science to go to seemed like disincentive.  To her it seemed like not having some science was like punishing her for finishing her favorite subject by telling her she couldn’t do any more of it.

I have to admit, I could kind of see her point. 

So what we did was do a mini unit on health.  We found a great source for heath games that covered health, staying in shape, allergies, and dental health.  My daughter loves to play online games of any sort, and by offering the games as part of her health course work, we had a win-win situation.  She got what she considered science, she got to play games, and she learned information that she needed to know anyway! 

I love win-win education situations, don’t you?


Monday, November 3, 2014

Science Vocabulary

Do you include vocabulary study and review in your science curriculum?

In the elementary grades my daughter was a very reluctant writer, but was great with science and other language arts.  Because she didn’t like to write it was very difficult to get her to take notes or to do repetitive writing work like writing spelling words, or writing vocabulary word definitions.  She also hated (and still does hate) what she terms mindless repetition. 

There are two subjects that really benefit from repetition however, math and vocabulary/spelling words.  Not surprisingly, these are my daughter’s least favorite subjects. It has always been a challenge to get her to review anything. 

One of the ways we get around her aversion to repetition, and still get the necessary review time is to let her play online games.  Isn’t it more fun to study vocabulary using word games such as hangman and find a word puzzles than to write the word five times? 

We found a site that allowed us to make our own puzzles with word lists of our choosing.  This means that we can build the games from social studies word lists, science word lists, and even math words. 

Anytime I can use technology like online games to help me and my daughter have a more agreeable and educational day, you can bet I will take advantage of it!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Science Tools

From the time you start homeschooling science you may find that you need tools that might be taken for granted in the text books.  Test tubes, microscopes, telescopes and chemicals are often called on to conduct a lab or experiment that could stop you cold.  This doesn’t have to happen though.  While science labs have developed a list of specialized science tools that work well, you can find substitutions pretty easily in the home. 

A set of small jars that you have cleaned and designated for school, work well as collection vessels for samples, insects, snails or whatever science-y thing your student is studying.   A set of zip top plastic bags could be used for geology samples.  Food coloring can substitute for the dyes used to color cell samples and common household chemicals (baking soda, vinegar, salt, peroxide, and ethanol) can be used in some chemistry experiments. 

At some point you may find that your student would benefit from a ‘real’ microscope or telescope, until that time there are excellent photos available on line or in books to show the actual appearance of the very small or very large.  A good set of binoculars is more commonly found in the home and can bring the moon or a new bird into much closer focus.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

High School Biology Course

Do you remember your high school biology course? Things have really changed. Ninth and tenth graders are covering subjects like cell biology, genetics, and DNA mapping that we didn’t even see until college.  Getting ready to homeschool high school biology will probably require lots of preparation and leveraging extra resources.

There are many web sites a valuable that not only provide up to date information but also include lectures by experts.  Even YouTube has demonstrations of biology topics and you can find all sorts of virtual laboratory experiments to teach everything from anatomy of worms to cellular biology.

Biology is still the most fun when you can actively engage with living things.  It is the perfect subject for field studies and hands on learning.  The classic wildflower collection becomes high tech with digital cameras.  Insect collections and identification are a lot less messy and more fun with digital pictures.  If you have a microscope at home you can do comparative studies of everything from pond water to types of pollen.  Is your student an artist?  Engage their artistic interests with sketches of leaves, mushrooms, flowers, or birds.  High school biology doesn’t have to be daunting – your homeschool student can learn everything they need for their future endeavors while still having fun with the beauty of nature.