I had the opportunity to use and review Bridget Ardoin’s Science For High School Biology course. I received a physical copy of the student text and the parent manual. The text and manual retail for $79.99. Everything is included to complete one year of high school biology. However, if doing labs at home you will need to purchase or rent a microscope, a dissecting kit and other related items. The author lists resources for obtaining this material at the website.
This biology course is a researched based curriculum unlike many of the popular science choices available for homeschool high school students. Princess has been using a textbook based curriculum for Biology this year. The drill includes: read the chapter, outline the text while taking note of bolded words, study, and take test. Repeat. Princess is my artsy child so science is just a “get it done” subject in our home but I am always open to a new approach. Our current Biology text and Science For High School pretty much cover the same material give or take a few topics but it is organized very differently.
Science For High School is organized around two semesters. Each semester covers different topics broken down into weekly research assignments. It is the student’s responsibility to do the research using whatever resources he/she chooses – textbooks, living books, internet, etc. The topics covered in each semester are listed here along with sample pages for you to view.
Princess actually studied science this way 2 years ago as part of a classical education community. She had to research a different living organism each week using 2 different sources, prepare a report, illustrate the organism, then orally present her organism to the class discussing 5 different points. She learned a great deal that year. Science For High School is very similar to this format but unlike what Princess did before, Science For High School covers a lot of ground as outlined in the syllabus. It covers all the topics one would expect to cover in a high school course – it is both broad and deep.
I started with the Week 1 research sheet and handed it to my student. It was my plan to have her spend all day at the library completing a week’s worth of work. The material is meant to be completed in one week with the student working one hour daily. Because my high schooler’s schedule is jammed pack this summer, I opted to have her complete a week’s lesson in one day. I wouldn’t do it this way during a “normal” academic year but for summer it is what works.
I remembered that I had this book on my shelf so I was able to attach worksheets to the back of the week’s assignment sheet to assist my student in completing the work. I believe the extra sheets worked as reinforcement and yes in some cases it gave my student the answers to some of the questions. The extra sheets are also a break from the seriousness of research. The sheets include crossword puzzles, matching exercises, and fill in the blank. I believe this book is a great add-on to this research based curriculum.
Science For High School includes quizzes that can be given to your student after they’ve completed the week’s work. A semester 1 exam and a semester 2 exam are provided as
well. The answers to all quizzes, tests, and each week’s research are included in the parent manual. As your student discusses with you what they’ve learned, you can follow along in the parent manual to see what type of information they should have found at a minimum. A dissecting manual is included as a tabbed section in the text and parent manual. It explains what the student needs to observe from his prepared slides under the microscope and what drawings should be done each week after the student has completed his research. There isn’t any instruction for actually preparing a formal lab report. This is a skill I believe is important in a science lab and should be included.
I really like this curriculum. My 10th grader is pretty much done with her Biology studies but I would like to put this curriculum on the shelf for my rising 9th grader. She will do Biology as a 10th grader. I won’t abandon the textbook approach but add in the research based approach to supplement her textbook studies. I will have to sit down and figure out exactly how to do that but I think it will be worth it for overall retention of the material.
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