Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Science Plans

Thus far, we've tried a whole bunch of different things for science. We've tried:
  • getting books from the library
  • following our own interests
  • Real Science 4 Kids (Pre-Chemistry)
  • using a book of science experiments and just doing the next one
  • Sonlight science (K & 1st)
  • BJU Science & workbook
  • Scotts Foresman textbook science (I have a bunch of these free from a private school that closed)

I think my favorite out of all of those has been Sonlight (love the DVDs) and Real Science 4 Kids. However, I struggle with consistency with experiments (who doesn't?). I get lazy and drop them pretty early on in the year. RS4K was expensive, and a very short little book. There has been another problem that I have seen throughout our science career: lack of understanding and lack of retention.

You could argue that science in the elementary years is about exposure. I believed this heartily for a long time. I was just "exposing" my kids to the ideas of science: how to conduct an experiment, what sorts of categories there are for study, what might interest them. The learning that has had the greatest, most lasting response has been the...(brace yourself)...kind where things were memorized and exposure was repeated. Take ROY G. BIV, for example. Five years later and my kids can still explain ROY G. BIV. They remember the "rainbow" exhibit in Chicago last year with the most clarity. Why? Because they already had a foot in understanding it and knowing it. Their knowledge and experience was able to build on to the foundation that was already there. And so, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to our new science (hopefully starting this spring?)

The Usborne Internet Linked Science Encyclopedia is a giant resource that covers several areas. I think we could use this over the span of a few years (and as a resource years after that). I really liked the Question & Answer sections at the back of the book that coorespond with each chapter. I can envision us using these questions repeatedly to really understand the material that we read.
The Everything You Need to Know About Science Homework by Scholastic is a short, flat book that just contains a whole lot of great illustrations and bulletpoints of things you *should* be getting out of each studied category. I plan to use this for memory work. We'll memorize things such as: what are the types of rock? what are types of volcanoes? what are the different systems in the human body? There are also charts that the kids can draw and label. I can use it in conjunction with the Usborne Science above. For example, when we get to the structure of the cell, I like the Usborne illustration better, so the kids can practice drawing that one and labeling it.

I bought both books off of Half.com for less than $2 each. With shipping each was $5 total for each. So both books came to about $10 altogether.

What about experiments? Not sure yet. I'd like to pull some in AFTER we have a good foundation of what we are learning. I think we can learn MORE from the experiment process if we know what we're learning ahead of time.

What about "Love of Learning"?
I'll approach this in another post. However, I'll touch on it briefly, here. I've been afraid to "kill" that "love of learning", have tried to foster a "love of learning" by allowing a lot of freedom and having very little expectations for my children to meet. I think this has been the approach to kill love of learning, at least for my children. If they can rise up to a (small) challenge and meet it successfully, if they can memorize something, practice it, and then eventually apply it; I think this will lead to love of learning. It is difficult to love something you don't understand. The very nature of human beings is to shy away from hard work and from the things we don't comprehend. If I can give my children the tools to know something, and then comprehend it, it will become easy for them and they can master it. They'll hate it at first (because it is work), but eventually, they will come to love some of it (I believe, anyway).

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