While there are innumerous numbers of science resources for teaching science to kids, it is really hard to find something that is organized while also being interesting, fun, and secular, for the junior-high-school student. Something that will be easy for me to teach/use while I am working full time. Something that the boys can handle mostly independently with help from Dad for some of the labs/experiments. I am on a continuing search for something to use for 7th grade science and in order to complement the science that will be in our core curriculum, what I really want to focus on is Life and Earth Science. I have researched quite a few programs so far and keep running into a problem with them either being too religious or too young (and in a few cases, too old, being designed for high school.)
I have signed up for a trial month at the website http://www.sciencelearningspace.com even though the units available there are mostly Physical Science at this point. I did ask the author about Life and Earth Science and she said that there are plans to start including that in the winter. It’s an expensive program, but I really like the layout of the units. However, the shopping lists needed for each unit’s labs may prove to be too overwhelming – and get quite expensive! It doesn’t seem like there is much in the way of reuse of resources between units. And each list feels like we are embarking on a major science project and not just a simple lab. I really haven’t spent much time with the units yet, having just signed up for it yesterday, so I may be proven wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.
I really like the science programs that Pandia Press has published so far. Unfortunately, the programs that are currently available are designed for 1st-4th grade with the exception of the Chemistry 1 course which is targeted at 2nd-5th grade. The boys feel like it’s a waste of time to read the books at this level, and even many of the labs are on the young side. I am still thinking about using their programs as a scope and sequence and the occasional lab, and then creating my own course by finding more age-appropriate books and supplementing with the Science-in-a-Nutshell labs. This will probably stay more in line with what I wanted to originally do, but will take a lot more work on my part.
Another option to use as the spine to our science program is Biology4Kids. It seems to cover all of the topics that a junior high school biology program would cover and even provides some videos, slideshows, and mini-quizzes. I don’t like that you can’t print out the results of your quiz – it doesn’t even give you a summary of your results after answering the 10 questions. That would have been nice to have so I have proof that the boys have been through the day’s lesson. They also have sites for Geography4Kids (Earth Science basics), Astronomy4Kids, Chem4Kids, and Physics4Kids. I would here again, be left to find supplemental books, hopefully living books when possible, to expand and increase the interest level, as well as continue with the Science-in-a-Nutshell labs as before. I wish these sites had book lists recommended to accompany them, but since they don’t, I will have to rely on my usual research skills to find good books to use.
I am still on my quest for a science program for 7th grade. I will continue to review and evaluate options as they show up with the hopes of having something decided on before the new school year starts (July).