Here is a nice, clear 6 page PDF on how and why keeping a Science lab notebook is a good and joyful thing to do. It clearly shows how one would be organized and what information would be kept in it. This is from MIT and obviously for a college level course but the structure and the importance are the exact same as for our high school Science students.
Buying “experiment books” or “science lab courses” is a big waste of money in my mind. If you are willing to look, there are more than enough free age appropriate resources out there to use as Science labs for homeschooling students. Simply follow your text’s topics and search based on what you are studying. Note who created them too. Most major universities have labs that are not too complex for our high schoolers. There are also numerous high school Science teachers posting their labs online now too. Oh, and then there are labs created by all the specialized Science folk in think tanks, non profits, research institutes, etc.
Claire – I agree labs are important, hands on science is one wonderful way to discover and see principles in action.
I do not agree that buying a science curricula/book with labs included in the book is a waste. For me, it is priceless. I could spend my time googling experiments, creating supply lists, and making special trips to the store for materials each week or every few weeks. However my time is better spent elsewhere while raising 8 children. It took no time and effort for ME to use Apologia’s upper level books. They’ve done all the planning and footwork for me. They have experiment supply lists divided by module ready to go. My daughter adds needed items to the monthly grocery list for the module. We went so far as to buy a lab kit through ChristianBook.com so most of the materials for the experiments are in a single box, divided and labeled by module, with a narrowed down materials list of the few things we need to provide in each module (like pans, water, or red cabbage). It, too, was worth the cost. I had baby #8 a month before the school year began and my time was better spent focused on my family instead of online and then making trips to the store each week just for science. By doing these two things (buying a book with labs planned and buying a materials kit) I was freed up from hours of work. I did very little beyond being a sounding board for narrations all year for oldest’s science, or a discussion buddy when needed. My time was worth spending money on something planned out for me.
Claire, I like your enthusiasm and the link to the lab notebook example. However, I think that the decision to search and plan your own thing versus buying plans and kits is a personal one that will differ depending on family needs. For some families the money savings will make the legwork worthwhile, but for others it’s well worth it to spend the money on something planned out. In fact, it could differ for individual families at different times.
Christie has a good point, there have been times where I have spent my time and saved money too. Sometimes one way, sometimes the other. And I love science enthusiasm too, I am glad you shared the link!
I really did not intend the focus of my post to be whether or not you spend money on labs or find your own. The point was the link. It was a great link to a succinct how to and importance of labs in general.
Chrisite, I understand your position. However, the families who can/do/want to spend on homeschooling are well represented on here. As are all the companies who gain from all that spending. It’s important that some voices represent opposing opinions about the need to spend so much when homeschooling. Let me be the crazy voice for free homeschooling! 🙂
When you design and plan your own curriculums, using a wide variety of resources of course, you learn a great deal and you totally control the content/scope/whatever. Who says I’m spending any longer than anyone else on planning? Who says I’m running to stores every week because I used free labs I found online? It’s the implication of those statements that bothers me. It leaves no room for someone to be inspired to try planning their own versus spending the money. I like room to be inspired.
Realize too, that for many homeschooling families the happy sacrifice of two incomes is one the requires them to be uber creative in sourcing their children’s courses, right? I mean how many silent voices do we have on here for whom all these things everyone raves about on here are out of reach? I don’t do a cost analysis. I like making the careless suggestion that I’m as smart and clever as the corporation Apologia at coming up with a great Science lab for my child! To inspire them to believe that they are too. They can do anything anyone else can do … I actually think this when it comes to homeschooling my children. I’m pretty sure I’m better than any company out there! But that’s just a personal mantra. Even if we all can’t all the time, and of course we can’t, it still brings about some good things sometimes to make the attempt or even just entertain the notion for a few minutes.
Really, that link ….. that was the focus of the post. But I spied my soap box in the corner and could not help myself.
I’m sorry I offended you! I suppose it wasn’t right for me to assume you spend more time on planning science doing it your way than I would with Apologia (though I spend ZERO time planning because of Apologia). Everyone does things differently and that is a good thing. Truly, there is freedom in homeschooling. I happen to be one of those one income families sacrificing to make ends meet. We have 10 people living on less than $35,000 a year and are caring for a disabled child with major medical expenses. We have to be extremely wise in how and where we use our money and how and where we use our time. I think that is true for everyone though. Again, I did not mean to offend, but to point out that our time as mothers is worth something and sometimes it is worth paying for resources to be able to spend our time on something else. For this coming year, as another example, I bought a science book for the 8th grader and invested my time in putting together a family World Geography and Cultures study that will be used by my high school to baby crowd. We will have daily time spent learning together about God’s people and the world he put them in. That was the priority and the place where my labor of love was best spent this year in school planning. Another year my time might be best spent on something else while paying for ready to go resources in the history/geography arena.
Claire, I will respond via a PM.BookwormParticipant
I also find the thought of doing things myself can be empowering . . . or overwhelming. I’m reasonably intelligent and fairly well-educated, but I am NOT a science teaching professional, and while I could find oodles of labs easily myself . . . I very much doubt my ability to necessarily find ALL the best labs to prepare my kids for college that would also be easy to implement at home AND fit well into a science program, and that I could afford. If I feel this way, I have to assume that many other mothers do as well, and it is a tremendous blessing to have guidance in the area. As much as I love math and science and exploring it with my kids, I am actually a poetry, literature, history and social science mama, and math and science are my WORST areas. I have to say that I think that most college bound homeschool kids and families would be better served by a regularized text and labs so that they could be prepared like the other kids going in to college, and that the self-serve approach would be a better option for only a few. In general, science is one of the things homeschooling does the WORST job at, leaving a lot of kids rather struggling in first college classes.
Tristan, you didn’t offend me at all, but that’s so nice of you to want to make sure you didn’t! When I said it “bothers me” I kind of meant it rehtorically. I always enjoy your voice on here. And your ideas. I’d love to be able to see your World Geography and Cultures study. Wouldn’t it be fun if somehow our SCM site had a drop box for PDF’s of each other’s studies and lessons? I think that would be so neat and inspiring, if not a wonderful time saver.
Great point Bookworm. I can see the gaps and holes that might exist in a “homemade” version of a Science lab. Maybe it would just take modeling it off of an existing one that was legit and complete? But yes, point well taken, guidance might trump frugality.
I had found a whole and complete Science lab text free online when I posted that second paragraph in the OP. Honestly, I was just trying to be empowering to families and maybe offer an alternative.
I apologize Chrisite. For everything I’ve said that has been offensive to you in this post and in past posts where I have advocated, crudely perhaps, for not purchasing curriculum. You have been a very kind and open person to me on my homeschooling journey and I’m so sorry that the respect and appreciation I have for your homeschooling wisdom and knowledge does not come through in my posts. I respect your choices and I’ve always thought that our differing opinions were a nice balance on this forum – offering others food for thought. I really do hope that my public apology will be enough to right the offenses I’ve committed.
Claire, I accept your apology. Perhaps I read too much into your words myself. Writing is hard, especially on public forums. So much is lost without knowing tones, facial expressions, etc. The beauty of homeschooling is the freedom it affords each of us to do what works in our given situation. Your efforts to blaze your own trail are admirable even if I’d rather not reinvent the wheel personally. Different strokes for different folks! I sincerely appreciate you.
Sometimes I even create new kinds of wheels too!Meri GerikParticipant
I would like to “second” the suggestion of a .pdf dropbox! Christie was kind enough to share her entire 4th grade schedule with me and it is PRICELESS!
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