Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bright Ideas Press (Chemistry)

Three years ago I reviewed Christian Kids Explore Physics (published by Bright Ideas Press) using it with my then 6th and 4th graders. This year I was sent Christian Kids Explore  Chemistry to use with my now 6th grade Middlest.

What I liked:
I really like the set-up with the vocabulary words defined in the margins of the pages. It is much better to have those definitions handy, in my opinion, than to interrupt the flow of reading to turn to a glossary in the back of the book (I also suspect that many students wouldn't take the time to look the definitions up as they read, so this feature ensures that the student is exposed to the definitions as they read).

What I liked:  
I totally appreciate this phrase from the introduction to the book: "The important thing to keep in mind is that God is at the center of everything — including the study of chemistry." I so appreciate the availability of foundational science texts that incorporate that most basic truth in their teaching.

What I didn't like:
The Chemistry course is intended for a 4th to 8th grade level, but I would suggest, as I found with the Physics course, that the questions and quizzes are most appropriate for the younger age, which means a little modification and more work may be necessary for the teacher if your student is older. The answers to many of the "Think About It" sections following the hands-on experiment seemed to be "leading" the student to the correct answer, which can be helpful for a student who struggles, however, I found them to be not quite challenging enough for my Middlest. The other feature that I feel is set up more for the younger age is the "Unit Wrap-up" because the questions at the end are multiple choice, and fairly easy, from my son's point of view. I ended up creating my own sheet with the questions as simple "Fill-in-the-blanks." I think it would be a nice option for Bright Ideas Press to offer an "Advanced option" like that ,on the resource disc, for the older students. *See my note in "The Nitty Gritty" for a little more on the age topic.

What I liked:
Speaking of the resource disc, this is a handy little resource put together in true BIP fashion. There are Lesson Plans (for 2 days/week), Reproducibles~ including the "Review It" questions, the Hands On  charts and Think About it Questions, Unit Wrap-up Quizzes, and Unit coloring pages. This is extremely helpful to the busy homeschool mom/dad. There are also supply lists and a literature study pulled from Illuminations. A Piece of the Mountain (Biography about Blaise Pascal's Spiritual Life) is the featured literature study in Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. While we didn't do that study, as I plan to use it at a more appropriate point in this chemistry course, I expect it to be of the same quality I have come to expect from BIP and Illuminations.

What I liked:
I greatly appreciate the Resource Lists included in the Appendix. There are many books suggested for each unit, by lesson, so that you can plan your library selections in advance. This is a great way to beef up the lessons for your older student and/or add some extra interest for all.

What I expect I will like: 
Because we have only had this for 6 weeks, we only completed Unit 1, which was really an introduction to Chemistry. The further units appear to provide a solid foundation for many Chemistry concepts. This falls into line with a classical train of thought, visiting the subject more than once, with a deeper train of thought each time.

Nitty Gritty:
Visit the Crew Blog to read more reviews on this and the other Bright Ideas Press Science books.
As always, I hope that my review is helpful to you as you choose where to allocate portions of your homeschool budget.

*Note: For the purposes of review, many on the TOS Crew were sent pdf versions of the Text that are not available for sale at this time, in addition to the "Resource CD" download, which is not only available, but on sale this month for those who own the 1st edition. The Resource CD is included with the new 2nd edition.

Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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