Thursday, November 7

Apologia Chemistry and Physics - a Review

We are huge fans of Apologia Educational Ministries. Huge! And we were thrilled to hear they had added another gem to the Young Explorer Series. The latest publication is Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. A Chemistry and Physics curriculum for K-6th grade students! Incredible!
My older sons are studying high school physics this year, but the girls have been feeling a bit left out of the fun. We jumped at the chance to review an Apologia book teaching physics at their level. Because I was attempting to match their lessons somewhat to their older brothers' lessons, I didn't follow the recommended schedule, but instead jumped around to match up topics the boys were studying.
So what did we think of it? Jeanie Fulbright hit it out of the park again. These are some complicated subjects to explain to children! And yet they are taught, and taught well, and to the glory of God. We serve an amazing God, creator of the universe and I am so thankful that there are publishers like Apologia that create homeschool science resources that teach sound science and honor God.
Chemistry and Physics are the two most fun sciences to study. This book takes you through 14 lessons, with an average of 2 weeks per lesson. It is suggested that you work twice a week for two weeks, but this means long sessions and we find it easier to fit in smaller sessions each day. We especially need the extra time when adding in the Notebooking Journal. This has many lapbooking and notebooking elements, as well as activities and copywork. The recommended schedule makes it a 28 week course, but we will stretch it to 36.
A typical day with the Young Explorer Series begins with a reading portion, which I do with my girls. There are roughly 20 pages per chapter and they are packed full of fabulous reading, vibrant photos, and experiments. The "Try This" sections throughout each chapter are experiments that help reinforce what was read and help students better understand what they've taught. This year, I had my sons step in and help with the experiments since the lessons even been excellent reinforcement for my boys' high school lessons! I have loved listening to all four of them discuss Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Laws together.
Each day includes 3-5 pages of reading, followed by an experiment or two. The girls narrate what they've learned and the day's lesson wraps up nicely with some Notebooking. The total time spent is about half an hour, which leaves them begging for more but it fits our schedule nicely. I love to leave them excited to start again the next day. The experiments for Mechanics in Motion are simple, requiring nothing but pennies and they really drove home the definition of inertia and Newton's 1st Law. You can see in the photos below that the pennies wanted to stay put, even though their foundation was quickly moving away.
The experiments require items that are either already in the house or easy to find or purchase inexpensively (like coffee stirrers). Some are messy, but those are the lessons they tend to remember the best. I confess, we did not do the next day's experiment in that motion unit, which involved a raw egg. I trust Newton's 2nd Law, but I don't trust the agility of my sons. We skipped ahead.
The Mechanics in Motion chapter was the shortest in the textbook at 12 pages long. It included 5 "Try This" experiments, instructions in creating pages for a Notebook rather than purchasing the Notebooking Journal, and instructions for playing a marble game called Ringers. The game page includes prompts and questions to get students noticing Newton's Laws at work. Every chapter includes a section called "Final Matters" which ends the lesson with glory to God's hand involved in all they are learning. Also at the end of each chapter is a section called "What Do You Remember?" These include about a half-dozen questions about what they've learned over the two weeks of lessons. The questions are generally pretty easy if you've read the chapter, but I wouldn't mind an answer key for the days when Mom is zoning out a bit.
Notebooking is a fabulous way to help students retain and understand lessons. I love that the textbook walks you through creating one on your own. It truly is not necessary to purchase a separate Notebooking Journal. The Notebooking Activities at the end of our Motion chapter describe how to create a lift-the-flap page for the 3 laws of motion, notes on what they've learned, and a biography of Newton. By the end of the book, you would have a beautiful, personal notebook about Chemistry and Physics. That said, I am still a huge fan of the Notebooking Journals. They are so easy. So convenient! They are shiny, attractive, and simple to work with.
For our Mechanics chapter, the Notebooking Journal includes 12 pages, plus 3 pages of material to cut out and paste in. These break down into 2 pages for narrating what they've learned each day, 1 page for a biography of Newton, 2 lapbook-style pages on Newton's 3 Laws of Motion, 1 crossword puzzle to reinforce vocabulary, 2 pages of copywork using Ezekiel 36:27 (one page for print and one in cursive), 2 pages for recording experiments (total of 4 boxes), a What Do You Remember question page, and then a Test It Out page. The Test It Out page gives 3 more experiments, which are a bit more complicated than what is shared in the textbook. These include a mini-hovercraft, a mousetrap car, and target practice with a moving tennis ball. At the end of this page is a Book Suggestion section. This chapter recommends 3 quality books for extra reading. For students that aren't ready for that much writing, Apologia also offers a Junior Notebooking Journal. It includes larger primary lines for writing, and a cut-and-paste vocabulary activity instead of having write in the crossword puzzle. Instead of a written quiz at the end, there are 2 coloring pages.
Mechanics in Motion is only one of the chapters in this fabulous textbook. It also includes a chapter on: Matter
  • Light
  • Moving Matter
  • Atoms
  • Compound chemistry
  • Mixtures (FUN!)
  • Dynamics of Motion (friction and gravity)
  • Energy
  • Sound
  • Thermal Energy
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Simple Machines

These are incredibly fun lessons to learn. I am quite impressed that they are taught at a level young students can grasp and retain! At first, I was surprised they combined such complicated subjects, Chemistry and Physics, into one book. However, they are complicated subjects that don't need to be fully grasped by this age group just yet. Receiving a basic understanding of how they work is quite a task in itself. Also, these subjects are closely intertwined and I love that Apologia manages to convey that fact.
You can purchase the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics hardcover textbook for $39.00


1 comment:

Beth said...

I love seeing what you guys did with physics! We've not used Apologia before reviewing this year, but I'm so impressed, we may just have to do some more.

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