Sunday, November 10, 2013

TOS Review: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

I have been fairly honest about my lack of interest concerning all things science. I also realize that perhaps I am a product of my schooling. Science never captured my imagination like history or literature. In my school days, most of my science classes were just plain dull. Dry facts from an even drier textbook didn’t do anything to keep this daydreamer's attention. 

Because of my own experiences, I have tried to expose Josiah to “anything but dry” science . My favorite homeschool science resources have come from Apologia Educational Ministries. We were recently blessed to be able to review the brand ‘spankin’ new science curriculum, Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics in addition to the coordinating Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal.

What I Received

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is the newest addition to the Young Explorer series written by Jeannie Fulbright. It is intended to use for grades K-6th and meant to be used over a year.  This hardcover textbook contains 14 lessons which include: 

Chemistry and Physics Matter, Building Blocks of Creation, Compound Chemistry, Electrifying our World, Simple Machines and many more. 

An introduction  gives ideas on using the text and a step-by-step guide. The illustrations are interesting and relevant. Being a visual person myself, I appreciate the use of pictures.  My hands-on boy loved the Try This! Boxes. They are experiments scattered through every chapter. Most were easy enough to do with use simple household ingredients. Some are a bit more involved and require more parental assistance. I appreciated the list of supplies at the back of the book. It helped me see what I had on hand and what I need to plan for. In addition, to the experiments there are notebooking activities and other suggested projects throughout the textbook. 

The textbook is available for $39.00

A handy resource to be used in conjunction with the textbook is the Exploring Creation with Chemistry & amp; Physics Notebooking Journal. I received both a Junior Journal and an Upper Elementary Journal. How fantastic that I got to take a look at both of them! In both notebooks there are plenty of pages to journal in, Scripture copywork, mini-books and experiment pages and so much more. The notebooks are available for $24.00 each.

How We Used It

I took Chemistry in High School. I don’t remember much about it. In fact, I am a bit suspicious that the only reason I passed was because my teacher, himself, was also a PK (preacher’s kid). Just a brief glance at a periodic table gives me the shivers. Before you judge me too harshly, let me assure you that I am not as clueless as I let on. Maybe. I did wind up taking Chemistry II, as well. Don't ask. 

I could have used this course.

This isn’t my first experience with Apologia Ministries. I have had the opportunity to use two of the Exploring Creation books.  We have equally loved them all.  Every time I read their tagline "Learn, Live and Defend the Faith," I am inspired to break out into "Onward Christian Soldiers."

Apologia unashamedly uses a Biblical worldview at every opportunity. I appreciate that. I don’t have to explain away any conflict the text might have in regards to our own views. The text itself is also pretty special. Jeannie Fulbright has a wonderful, natural style of writing. She is able to explain without being overly technical, yet doesn’t dumb down the information. She is anything but dry. I can tell you that it is a joy to read (which is a lot for me to say about science). 

Josiah is in the 6th grade. He is a bright and curious guy. He is also dyslexic and dysgraphic.  I generally read any text aloud to him (that is not specifically for reading class). However, this time around I let him read some on his own as well. We took turns reading to each other. The chunks of text were nicely divided by Try This! boxes, pictures and more. He wasn't overwhelmed by the enormous amounts of reading.

I want to share with you some of Josiah’s Chemistry and Physics Adventures. 

We began by reading the text. It is suggested that the student reads a good portion of the chapter before working in their notebook. There are stopping points that ask the student to talk about what he or she has learned. I found that Josiah needed to record what he was reading a bit more often than suggested. 

Older students will have no difficulty working through the curriculum if they don't have any reading issues. In fact, many of the experiments Josiah did completely on his own. 

In the picture below he is gathering supplies for an experiment. In this experiment the student discovers if eggs will sink or float. One egg is tested in regular tap water. The other egg is tested in salt water. 

Josiah correctly hypothesized that the egg in the salt water would float because of the density of the salt water. He also insisted on using his swim goggles as safety goggles. You have to appreciate those safety precautions. (Don't look now, but somebody needs to take out the trash!)

This Try This! experiment was another Sink or Float project. We have done this experiment a number of times and no matter how old Josiah gets he never tires of it. The only difference now is that is actually understands the science behind it. I did have to close things down after awhile. He started gathering all kinds of items and it became the scene out of some sort of apocalyptic movie (maybe starring Will Smith).

This is an experiment that tests magnetism. There is a more comprehensive chapter later on in the book, but for now Josiah has learned the various properties of matter. He also learned that gold is not magnetic. That is my wedding band he's testing out. Anything for his education.

Here Josiah is recording his experiment findings in his Notebooking Journal. I found it to be easier for him to do so as he conducted his experiments.

Speaking of the Notebooking Journal, there are several activities available with every chapter. Below you can see that Josiah filled out the crossword puzzle for Lesson 1. This is actually on the crossworld puzzle that is in the Junior Notebooking Journal. The Regular Notebooking Journal has a crossword puzzle, but it is just a bit more complicated.

This is another perk for having the Notebooking Journal. Below is a fun flap book that Josiah completed and placed in his book. The Notebooking Journals are filled with fun little books and activities like this. 

 In this picture, Josiah was required to draw or take photos of a variety shapes of rocks (still learning about the properties of matter). He took it to another level. I'm not sure he was supposed to take pictures of the entire gravel pile.

Every lesson has a final project. For Lesson 1 the final project was to make lava lamps. These were entirely too much fun. There is nothing better than hearing your son exclaim, "Wow! How cool! How did that work?" There were no video games involved! Science is cool. Yep. You heard me say it. This is the kind of experiment that Josiah wants to do over and over again.

A Few Thoughts 

In my humble opinion, I think this textbook is entirely appropriate for ages older than 12. Some of us (ahem) could benefit from the easy narrative Jeannie Fulbright writes with. I can see families with a whole passle of kids using it with a few modifications for everyone. 
You will love the flexibility of the curriculum. I'm just sayin'. 

If you are on a tight budget you can get away with only purchasing the textbook. However, if you can swing it the notebooking journals are convenient to have.  Now here is my conundrum. I don’t want Josiah to have to worry about writing large amounts of text. The junior notebook didn’t have so much writing that it was overwhelming. It also had some fun coloring pages (which I, myself, would love to sit down and color). The writing lines, however, were primary lines. Josiah felt like they were  too babyish for him. The regular notebook has so much extra space for writing and additional activities that we wound up having a lot of empty space. Any of the other Notebooking Journals in the Young Explorers series are the same way so I am not picking on the Chemistry and Physics Notebook. I just hate leaving projects undone. I almost wish there was a pick-your-own downloadable option. I say almost because it is sure handy not to have to uses gallons of printer ink!

This does not take anything away from the textbook or the Notebooking Journal. They really are fantabulous! I’m just thinking outloud (which could be dangerous). You have to decide what works best for your family. 

I don’t have anything but warm and fuzzy thoughts about Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. I recommend it whole-heartedly.  Take a peek for yourself. There are downloadable samples available on the website. 

You check out other reviews on this great product here.  


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