Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apologia Science Exploring Creation with Zoology I (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day) AND General Science

Apologia Science~

The name that seems to be synonymous with the study of science from a Christian worldview, you hear it a lot in Christian Schooling circles (Home or Private...), but what does it mean? Here's a definition from their website:

Apologia ~ What Does It Mean?
It appears eight times in the New Testament, in the context of people defending their faith or actions by reason and logic.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..." 1 Peter 3:15

Apologia Ministries exists to give the home-schooled student a scientific education that will help him or her make a reasoned defense of the Christian Faith.

In light of this, I felt so blessed to receive two curriculum to review that would help to prepare my children to give logical arguments for their faith using science to back up the Bible:

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day ~ Elementary Science designed for ages K-6, by Jeannie Fulbright ($35 Hardcover Textbook)

The book is broken down into 14 lessons, with the intent that the student takes 2 weeks to complete a lesson. This could move at different rates, depending on the age and ability of your child. You can find a table of contents, course overview and sample module in pdf form at the link posted above.

OK, so other than the Christian worldview, what makes this Science text different from others?

  • It is written directly to the student, in conversational style, directly engaging their minds.
  • Questions are in narration form rather than "fill in the blank/multiple choice".
  • "Notebooking" is recommended as a way of recording what was learned.
  • Fun and interesting projects and experiments (With readily available materials) finish up each lesson.
  • An optional course website is available with a link to a KnowledgeBase (questions that other students have asked and the answers that Dr. Wile has given), General links for the whole course, and many links for each chapter, for those who are interested in digging deeper. There are also blank notebook pages and Scientific Speculation Sheets, to make it easier for the student to order their thoughts.
  • The Author (Jennie Fulbright) has her own yahoo group where one can discuss all things related to these books or the scientific concepts found in these book. Help with notebooking, projects and experiments is available through this group, as well as many different schedules, tests and other materials created by homeschool moms. (Show me a public school science text with ONE author, who is willing to invest time in the students using the text!)
So... what are my thoughts on this curriculum?

  • Well... Mom likes it because I don't have to "Teach" the text... it teaches itself. and as a "help", there are answers to the narrative questions for each chapter at the back of the book.
  • Middlest likes it because it is easy to read and understand, and he likes the experiments and projects. He does admit that "notebooking" isn't his favorite thing, but we discovered that there are many resources* available for "lapbooking" these books in particular, which he prefers because the writing tends to be in smaller bites.
  • Another "mom like": It is already turning middlest into an Apologist... he's sharing some of what he is learning with his public schooled friends. COOL!
  • It is fun! Quick story: we were out on our Nature Scavenger Hunt when some neighborhood boys greeted us, and then asked us what we were selling. We didn't know what they were talking about, so they asked us again, this time referencing the clipboards with the scavenger hunt papers on them. "Oh! We're doing some schoolwork. Have you ever had to do a Nature Scavenger hunt?" Their replies... "No! Oh, that's right... you're homeschooled... Lucky!" ;)
  • Oldest enjoys hanging around and participating in the activities and projects, but she didn't do the narration and notebooking/lapbooking because she tested the other curriculum we recieved...

Exploring Creation With General Science 2nd edition Two-Book set~ This course is designed to be a student's first systematic introduction to the sciences, and is optimally designed for 7th or 8th graders, but as with all things, can go up or down a year depending on the child's interests and abilities. For a college-minded course of study, 7th grade is recommended. This course is written by Dr. Jay Wile and the set retails for $85.

The text book is split into 16 modules. Most modules contain an average of 3 experiments, although one has no experiments and a few have 5. The experiments utilize readily available household items making them easy to prepare for, but don't let this fool you. There are a number of "WOW!" experiments... this is not dull!

  • Similar to the Elementary Texts, it is written directly to the student.
  • There are suggestions for the student on how to "pace" themselves through the course.
  • "On Your Own" questions are scattered throughout each module.
  • A "Study Guide" Review is found at the end of each module, containing questions to help cement the material learned in the student's head. ;)
  • The companion "Solutions and Tests" manual contains the answers to the Study Guide questions for each module, as well as the answers to the Module Summaries (Appendix B in the textbook), the Tests and Answers for each module, and 4 Quarterly Tests and Solutions. There are also guidelines and a "point system" for grading the tests.
  • Like the Elementary Texts, there is a website for further study, news, and resources as "Extras".
I will mention once again that there are numerous online resources* (search YAHOO for "Apologia Science" groups, for example) which may make the course "come alive" even more for your hand-on Learner.

In addition, Apologia offers a Multimedia CD-Rom ($15), which is referenced in the text, an audio CD ($15) that narrates the text for the auditory learner, or learner who has some other difficulty with reading, and finally, there is FULL Course CD-Rom ($65) that includes the entire text, experiments, tests, etc, as well as the multimedia add-ons. This could be a good option for those who enjoy "Schooling" at the computer rather than with a hard copy book.

Now, I will admit that I don't have a great deal of experience with any other science "curriculums", but we have found Apologia to be interesting and easy to use. I appreciate that Apoligia has, at it's central "Core", a deep understanding and desire to communicate the truth of the Creator to students, so that they can in their turn make a logical defense of their faith in the intelligent design of a loving Creator God.

*Optional resources~
Knowledgebox Quest Lapbook and Journals for Elementary and High School (Some free samples to download, including the complete 1st Module for General Science)
Live and Learn Press Learn-N-Folder Notebooks for Elementary and some high school

I hope you check them out if you haven't yet, and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you want to read some other reviews, check out the TOS Crew ....

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