High School Chemistry – What have you liked?

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  • Tristan

    Hi everyone! Let me give you background to my question. We’ve graduated one child and she used Discovering Design with Chemistry by Dr. Wile. (This is the newer book he published through Berean Builders, not his old edition through Apologia.) We liked it.

    However, next year I have two high school kids who are NOT interested in using science in the future. They won’t enjoy the depth of math/work in Wile’s Chemistry course. Joseph will be 10th and Emma 9th. They will both be done with Algebra 1 by then, and are doing biology this year.

    So, what else have you used and liked for a not-science-interested high schooler? Neither is likely to go into a science field. One reads quickly, the other slowly, but both like reading.

    In the end, we may just use Discovering Design with Chemistry, but I am curious what options are out there.


    Last year I had my then-11th-grade son use PAC Chemistry (the chemistry chapters of their Integrated Physics and Chemistry). He is also not a science kid and won’t pursue it after high school. I found the text really interesting (didn’t think there was such a thing as interesting chemistry!) and we combined it with the Chemistry 101 DVD. My son REALLY liked the DVD.

    I scheduled 3 PAC lessons per week, including the quizzes, and then on the 4th day, he watched a DVD segment or did a lab from the DVD, since there is no lab work in the PAC chapters. We ended up skipping some of the labs that were too juvenile, but there were 5 or 6 more interesting ones that he did.

    It worked out well, and made chemistry tolerable for us, since we are not a chem-loving family. I would definitely use the combo again.


    Our plan for Chemistry is Highschool Chemistry in Your Home. We are using the physical science one now.  You research topics by answering questions.  We use ACE labs because I already had the dvd.

    I’m not sure if my next daughter will use it.  Friendly Biology worked well, but we weren’t as impressed with Friendly Chemistry. Guest Hollow is another on our list, including 101 dvds.

    My son used PAC, but I would call that physical science or conceptual chemistry, unless you beef it up. That said a remedial student could call it Chemistry if you add labs.


    We did what ErinD described. A talk with the PAC  author(? ) was very helpful.  Our 2 boys really liked the Chemistry 101 DVD


    We liked the Chemistry 101 DVD as a spine and since my son wasn’t going into a STEM career we picked up several books read throughout that really helped see the big picture of chemistry.  A few that we enjoyed were:

    Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks

    What is Chemistry by Peter Atkins

    That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Schwartz

    The Joy of Chemistry by Cobb (is pretty good too)

    For our labs we used:  https://www.thehomescientist.com/ck01b-main.php

    Didn’t complete them all but did enough for him to be comfortable with main points and how to write lab reports


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