During the last few years, it seems like the options for Chemistry curricula have exploded. Gone are the days when A Beka, Bob Jones and Apologia were the only options. Although not done yet, we asked local math and science teacher Jerry Jones to review all of the options we have available (plus a couple more), and that review is coming together!
Below are the notes we have gathered. We'll post more here as it's written, and then consolidate into a more helpful format as we complete the overview.
Discovering Design with Chemistry by Dr. Jay Wile is a new approach to high school chemistry for independent study. The arrangement of topics follows a much more intuitive sequence than his earlier work, and it is written with a better economy of words (512 pages). The author determined to do more than update scientific information; he also remodeled the course to better reflect the role of chemistry in the issues of this generation. For example, he points out that a theory can’t be considered scientific unless it can make predictions which can be tested and confirmed, and then discusses how creation science theory has led to many successful predictions. Also included are various articles about believers who presently hold high positions in fields of chemistry.
It is also very much like his previous work in Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 2nd Edition, in providing everything a student needs to know an easy to follow conversational manner, assuming there is neither laboratory nor authority on chemistry in the home. While remaining scientific, it reads the way an ordinary high school student thinks, and poses questions that stimulate anticipation of solutions or results before they are explained. Each concept is accompanied by an example problem, followed by a Comprehension Check problem, enabling the reader to stop and apply what they have learned immediately, and again, at the end of each chapter, a set of questions reflect these same methods. (Student should have completed Algebra 1).
Everything the student needs is conveniently located, including experiments. These are also found in the reading, usually just before a key principle is spelled out, allowing the student to discover and experience the relevance of what is being learned. The number of experiments ranges from one to four per chapter, and some can be conducted with things found in most homes, but unlike the author’s previous work, they include equipment and supplies that were previously costly and hard to find, but have now become reasonably priced and easy to order. Thus these experiments, 46 in all, are significantly more like laboratory experiences, and the concepts demonstrated are clearly chemistry . Many of them are quantitative, that is, they require careful measurements and calculations, strengthening the idea of testing a hypothesis. The course teaches students how to think as a chemists so they can analyze the major changes that occur in matter, and also evaluate claims made in the media as to whether or not they qualify as genuine science.
Also available are the Answer Key and Tests, which includes answers to the questions in the textbook, as well as tests and test answers, and sample calculations for several of the experiments. Also, the Lab Kit, which includes all the non-household equipment and chemicals needed.
The 16 chapters cover the most essential categories of college-preparatory chemistry; however, there is also a good deal of information not included. This becomes very plain when it is compared to a classroom textbook, (such as BJU), and this is by design of the author. He feels that the complete content needed to prepare for such things as the AP(advanced placement) or the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams, are too much to be included in a single year. His previous Advanced Chemistry included more applications of stoichiometry (the math of converting chemical quantities), orbital hybridization and molecular geometry, nuclear chemistry, and an introduction to organic chemistry – all topics normally included in a complete high school class.
Apologia Sciences are paced differently than standard classroom science courses. Scope and Sequence as outlined in national standards are not followed. For example, their Physical Science book, is not a true Physical Science course, but is actually about a quarter of what is normally part of an 8th grade Earth Science course plus about a third of what is usually considered part of a Physical Science course. The remaining two-thirds of the Physical Science material is included in the Chemistry and the Physics textbooks. Then, those two courses are trimmed, so the remaining material usually taught as part of those subjects is carried over to the Advanced Chemistry and Advanced Physics courses. In theory, a homeschool student can spread these subjects over a longer period, and even begin Physical Science as an 8th grader before high school. The math required is also toned down in the same way. Similarly, the Biology course leaves some of the material for the Advanced course.
Exploring Creation with Chemistry, 3rd Edition, by Kristy Plourde and Rusty Hughes, is a revamping of the 2nd edition by new authors. The material is arranged in a much more intuitive sequence, and this revised edition offers more in-depth discussions and explanations of concepts (587 pages). It is still written in an easy to follow language for youth. Beyond having a dramatically improved look, revised text, and enhanced readability, its modules will easily be recognized from the earlier editions. Lessons integrate "on your own" questions to check for review and comprehension throughout the lesson. Examples, tables, and images are conveniently located. Modules end with a "study guide" that includes review questions and practice problems, along with answers to the "on your own" questions. Several articles about historic men of science who were believers are included. (Student should have completed Algebra 1).
Experiments are designed for home-use, and most of the supplies can be found in the home, though some affordable more "specialized" equipment is required; they include many true chemistry labs, modified for practicality yet still demonstrating the principles discussed in the text. These are also found in the reading, usually just after a key principle is spelled out, allowing the student to experience the reality of what is being learned. There are 1-4 experiments per module, 30 in all. Many of them are quantitative, that is, they require careful measurements and calculations, strengthening the idea of testing a hypothesis. The course teaches students how to think as a chemists so they can analyze the major changes that occur in matter, and also evaluate claims made in the media as to whether or not they qualify as genuine science.
Also available are the Solutions and Tests Manual, which includes answers to the questions in the textbook, as well as tests and test answers, and sample calculations for several of the experiments. Also, the Student Notebook, which provides a schedule for keeping on track, pages set up for notes, all assignments, and lab reports, plus instructions in graphing data.
This book is very user friendly, and the course can be in 32 weeks right in the home without a laboratory or an authority on chemistry. Its 16 modules cover the most essential categories of a college-preparatory course, however, in order to complete the full course it is recommended that the student follow up with the Advanced Chemistry course, particularly if one desires to take the AP(advanced placement) or the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams. This sequel includes more applications of stoichiometry (the math of converting chemical quantities), orbital hybridization and molecular geometry, nuclear chemistry, and an introduction to organic chemistry – all topics normally included in a complete high school class.
BJU Chemistry, 4th edition, by Adele Hensley, guides students in the study of modern chemistry with the most recent and complete content. It gives students the tools to build an understanding of the structure and nature of atoms and molecules, of chemical composition and reactions. Students will apply these tools to different fields of chemistry in ways that can show them the impact that chemistry can have to help people and to wisely use God’s world to glorify Him. This latest edition features new content about semiconductors and nuclear chemistry, as well as a thorough introduction to organic chemistry.
Each of the 20 chapters has example problems worked out in each subsection, and review questions after each section, and at the end of the chapter. In addition, Facets offer extra information that interest young minds and pertain to the topics of the chapter; Worldview Sleuthing articles challenge students with inquiry-based investigations that help sort out controversial areas in chemistry through the lens of scripture; and Career boxes cover a wide range of chemistry-related occupations in which to serve as God’s emissaries. It also includes many actual applications in the real world, an abundance of data in tables and graphs, vivid photography and images, and career boxes.
The chemistry text promotes analytical thinking and inductive problem-solving skills through many exciting chemistry experiments. There are 1-4 full-fledged laboratory applications of each chapter (34 in all), in which the student participates in such things as the synthesis of artificial fruit scents, analysis of spectral emissions of elements, making models of molecules, producing observable changes to compounds in chemical reactions, acid-base titrations, and calorimetry.
As a warning to home-school parents: this textbook is written in a language that is a bit more collegiate/professional, which some students may find harder to follow. It is not unnecessarily long (553 pages), but it is heavily packed with information. Also, there should be more examples, because some of the questions require a student to adapt the ideas and even read between the lines. This is probably intended to challenge students to think on their own; but they may need help. Finally, you will need to make a lot of purchases of books and supplies.
Also available are the Teachers Edition, which includes answers to the questions in the textbook, as well as lesson plans, further information, quizzes, extra labs, and a CD-ROM with additional articles, review questions, labs, and links. Also available are the Tests, Test Answer Key, the Lab Manual, the Teachers Lab Manual, and a Lab Kit, which includes all the non-household equipment and chemicals needed.
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