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    Skipping Physical Science?

    I am back with science questions. I am in need of wisdom from experienced homeschool moms. I am thinking over the possibility of having my rising 8th grade daughter skip Physical Science (and Intro to Physics) and jumping straight into Biology starting the high school sequence of Biology-Chemistry-Physics early (this was her idea.) She is advanced mathematically so she wouldn’t mess up the order of further sciences as far as math is concerned. Her reasoning is the desire to take more advanced science classes while still in high school (she is thinking AP Biology/AP Chemistry/Anatomy & Physiology).

    She is my oldest, so I haven’t done this before. I do not want to set her up for difficulties down the road due to skipping Physical Science (or intro to Physics), but I also want to allow her some ownership. Will she have huge gaps if we take this science sequence? What are some cautions I need to consider in this decision?

    Also, just for background, science wise, she completed MP Astronomy, MP Insects, MP Birds, she has read Tiner Chemistry/Biology/Physics, and she is finishing Novere Earth Science this year.

    Thank you in advance for your wisdom and encouragement!
    2021-2022
    9th year Homeschooling
    6th year MP
    Home + MPOA
    7th, 3rd, 3rd, 1st

    #2
    One way to frame this conversation is to look at the next five years and think about five years of science. "Biology" can mean a wide range of intensity depending on what text is used, it is taught in person or self-study or online etc. Some classes you can do in 8th grade and self-study, others are much more challenging and include more complex cell chemistry (to name one aspect). Certainly there are some different sequence suggestions floating around out there and I won't get into those. Here are a few things to add to the conversation at home--these are just for you, you don't have to respond to them!
    • What 5 science classes would I like to take before I graduate? What sequence is most ideal for these?
    • Do you have access to AP classes? or AP testing? Would the courses have to be online?
    • What is required in your state to graduate?
    • Are there any sequencing requirements there? If you register with an umbrella program, are there any sequencing requirements there?
    • If she's headed in the direction of something science/mathy, would it be better to take more advanced classes (the hardest one she can each year), or to take regular classes and get a really good grip on the material?
    • What else are you (and she) committed to academically? What are the most important subjects in your homeschool? Which other subjects will take a seat in the second row? third row?
    • College-y question: Will the colleges she's interested in take any AP/CLEP etc. credit or not (some do, some do not)? What does she want on her college app? Because they'll mostly be looking at her 9/10/11 year. They might not even have her senior year grades from the fall, and certainly not the spring, when they are looking at her application.
    To put all my cards on the table, I'll share that my oldest followed the regular Novare sequence (Earth and Physical in 7/8), then Intro to Physics, Bio, Chem in 9, 10, 11, and this year he's dual enrolled in General Physics at my alma mater across town for 12th. He has to attend lecture 3x week for just under an hour and has a weekly lab for 2 3/4 hours. It's only offered as a 4 credit course. It's a huge time commitment between attendance and homework! And that's just for one class for one semester. High school can be busy, but we choose to leave a path that has quite a bit of margin in it. I want them to have time to think, time to work, time to be around family. I've chosen to have him work on level each year and not even to use the Accelerated materials when available. I've heard professor after professor in science at the college level say, "If you can answer for your math, I can teach you the Physics/Chemistry/Biology/etc." Take that for what you will. Each family has their own sort of educational rhythm and philosophy to it. It has been ours not to make anything unnecessarily hard since what we are asking of them (Latin and Classics every year) is pretty challenging.

    I hope these questions are fruitful for you!
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
    DS Hillsdale College freshman
    DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
    DD 8th • HLN & Home
    DS 5th • HLN & Home
    Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

    Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

    Comment


      #3
      Wow, thank you! This was just the response I was hoping for! Thank you for the questions to think through as well as sharing your personal experience. Science feels so tricky to me as there seems to be so many different ways to order it. Thank you, again!
      2021-2022
      9th year Homeschooling
      6th year MP
      Home + MPOA
      7th, 3rd, 3rd, 1st

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by HartFamily06 View Post
        Science feels so tricky to me as there seems to be so many different ways to order it.
        I agree! But even so, it's reassuring to know that basically every college-bound student in the nation is going to have, generally, the same path on this give or take the ordering and intensity. It's not a place where there is actually much variety. It's not often you see outliers like Marine Biology, Acoustics, Environmental Science, and Astronomy. No one asked a single question about science texts or sequencing on my son's 5 college applications. Crickets. Little details like this matter tremendously to homeschool parents (raises my own hand), but not that much to others.

        I will add one little tidbit though--Astronomy can be an excellent capstone "classical" science course, and many colleges and community colleges will offer it as a Dual Enrollment option. It can be nice for a high schooler who's not trucking furiously down a STEM path in college and who needs something interesting, but not overly difficult, for that 12th grade science credit.

        I'm curious what my friend Beorn thinks about your original question. He's actually a scientist, not just a speculator like me.
        Festina lentē,
        Jessica P

        '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
        DS Hillsdale College freshman
        DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
        DD 8th • HLN & Home
        DS 5th • HLN & Home
        Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

        Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

        Comment


          #5
          Well, first off, I do not have the wisdom of a homeschool Mom, so please do take that into account in my answer. Also, pickandgrin has given you a lot of good advice and questions to ponder above, so I won't go over that ground in my post. Definitely answer those questions for your family, @hartfamily06.

          When it comes to science, it is not like Latin in this sense: one should not take Third Form before taking First Form. The Forms build on each other in a methodical fashion. There is never a good reason (that I am aware of) that one should take Fourth Form before taking Second Form.

          The sciences are different. In the sciences, there are many routes that can be taken and order does not matter *as much* as it does in Latin. It still does matter in some ways. They just each build on each other in different, less critical ways. That said, I think that there is a good/better/best that can be tailored to each child and these paths are not going to be the same for all of your kids. Another way to say this is, there are always going to be pluses and minuses with whichever path one takes. There are benefits in taking Physical Science before Biology, but there would also be *different* benefits or reasons to potentially take Biology and skip Physical Science and Physics (for the time being). I hope that makes sense.

          For me, personally, I see much wisdom in taking Physical Science to set one up for Bio/Chem/Physics. I also know there is much overlap between Physical Science and Intro to Physics, so that may be a consideration for you too. The kinds of questions I would ask yourself are, does your daughter think like a scientist already? Does she know the scientific method well enough to jump into Biology? Does she know the difference between hypotheses and theories and how they work and interact with each other? Does she understand how science works and why we do things like we do? If she does not have a solid background in these basic types of concepts and ideas, Biology will be tougher for her without having Physical Science in her arsenal. Just something to consider as you think about it more and decide.
          Last edited by Beorn; 02-04-2022, 04:58 PM.
          '22/'23 - 5th MP Year
          HS Dad & HLN Teacher
          ​​​​​Married to Faculty HS Mom
          8S, 3nd MP @ Home & HLN
          6D, 1st MP @ Home & HLN
          5S, K MP @ Home & HLN

          Comment


            #6
            Well, first off, I do not have the wisdom of a homeschool Mom, so please do take that into account in my answer. Also, pickandgrin has given you a lot of good advice and questions to ponder above, so I won't go over that ground in my post. Definitely answer those questions for your family, @hartfamily06.

            When it comes to science, it is not like Latin in this sense: one should not take Third Form before taking First Form. The Forms build on each other in a methodical fashion. There is never a good reason (that I am aware of) that one should take Fourth Form before taking Second Form.

            The sciences are different. In the sciences, there are many routes that can be taken and order does not matter *as much* as it does in Latin. It still does matter in some ways. They just each build on each other in different, less critical ways. That said, I think that there is a good/better/best that can be tailored to each child and these paths are not going to be the same for all of your kids. Another way to say this is, there are always going to be pluses and minuses with whichever path one takes. There are benefits in taking Physical Science before Biology, but there would also be *different* benefits or reasons to potentially take Biology and skip Physical Science and Physics (for the time being). I hope that makes sense.

            For me, personally, I see much wisdom in taking Physical Science to set one up for Bio/Chem/Physics. I also know there is much overlap between Physical Science and Intro to Physics, so that may be a consideration for you too. The kinds of questions I would ask yourself are, does your daughter think like a scientist already? Does she know the scientific method well enough to jump into Biology? Does she know the difference between hypotheses and theories and how they work and interact with each other? Does she understand how science works and why we do things like we do? If she does not have a solid background in these basic types of concepts and ideas, Biology will be tougher for her without having Physical Science in her arsenal. Just something to consider as you think about it more and decide.
            '22/'23 - 5th MP Year
            HS Dad & HLN Teacher
            ​​​​​Married to Faculty HS Mom
            8S, 3nd MP @ Home & HLN
            6D, 1st MP @ Home & HLN
            5S, K MP @ Home & HLN

            Comment


              #7
              Beorn thank you for the advice! These are really great things to consider! I appreciate you highlighting the benefit of “thinking like a scientist.” I really see the value in that mentality and I don’t think she has developed that very strongly yet. I appreciate your help!
              2021-2022
              9th year Homeschooling
              6th year MP
              Home + MPOA
              7th, 3rd, 3rd, 1st

              Comment


                #8
                I have had two boys take Biology in 8th grade. Both had an algebra based, 9th grade level Physical Science in 7th. Many current biology texts are very advanced and detailed and include quite a bit of assumption of basic chemistry knowledge such as ions, hydrogen bonding and such. A student might struggle with this if they don’t have a solid background in chemistry. Typically what is in an 8th/9th grad physical science course is enough chemistry. So if she wants to take biology in 8th, be sure she has a good grounding in middle school level chemistry. That could come from the Novare Physical Science chemistry chapters or the Tiner Chemsitry book. Then she should be prepared to encounter chemistry she may not know and be ready for a little extra study in that case.
                My boys who took bio in 8th followed two different paths. One was at public school and took honors chemistry in 9th, AP Chemistry in 10th, physics in 11th, and independent science research in 12th (involved science fairs). He is now officially a PhD candidate in chemistry at Washington University. The other homeschooled and did honors chemistry in 9th, honors physics in 10th, astronomy in 11th, and dual enrolled in General Chemistry at the community college senior year. He is now a dual math/physics major in his junior year with aspirations to study astrophysics at the PhD level. (Don’t worry, I have “normal” kids too and one with a learning disability. We have all kinds here 😂). There are numerous options for what to do junior and senior year after three years of bio, Chem, physics. There is the usually Anatomy/Physiology. There is also astronomy. Dual enrolling is very common as well as online AP courses.
                Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
                DD, 27, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
                DS, 25, BS '18 mechanical engineering
                DS, 23, BS '20 Chemsitry, pursuing phd at Wash U
                (DDIL married #3 in 2020, MPOA grad, BA '20 philosophy, pusrsing phd at SLU)
                DS, 21, Physics and math major
                DD, 18, dyslexic, 12th grade dual enrolled
                DS, 14, future engineer/scientist/ world conquerer 9th MPOA diploma student
                DD, 8 , 2nd Future astronaut, robot building space artist

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by HartFamily06 View Post
                  Beorn thank you for the advice! These are really great things to consider! I appreciate you highlighting the benefit of “thinking like a scientist.” I really see the value in that mentality and I don’t think she has developed that very strongly yet. I appreciate your help!
                  You are welcome, HartFamily06. I am glad you were helped. Please keep asking questions and hashing out thoughts as you consider what is to come for your oldest. This is very much an "iron sharpens iron" community and much help and wisdom to be gained here. One of the reasons why I love being here and reading posts, I have learned so much from others.
                  '22/'23 - 5th MP Year
                  HS Dad & HLN Teacher
                  ​​​​​Married to Faculty HS Mom
                  8S, 3nd MP @ Home & HLN
                  6D, 1st MP @ Home & HLN
                  5S, K MP @ Home & HLN

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Beorn
                    You give such sound advice so I'd like to pick that brain of yours. What if you have a student that has decided he is going to be an engineer and has no interest wavering from that whatsoever. I took AP classes, including AP BIo in high school and later majored in Chemistry. I'm still trying to decide if that was ideal - the ability to skip BIO 1 because of the AP exam in college before entering BIO 2. BIO 2 was much harder, and it felt a bit like trial by fire - not to mention, life kind of just happens, and I didn't get to take BIO 2 the semester after high school so some of the information was a more than a little fuzzy.

                    I wonder if I wouldn't have gleaned more from a year of Anatomy and Physiology instead of that AP year - or for that matter, do AP Chem or Physics without taking the AP test (because those subjects never hurt to see more than once). Taking those dual enrollment classes are a serious time commitment - time lost that could be spent more in depth staying the homeschooling course, and I'm wondering if they really are helpful long term. If memory serves, they are only saving you 1 semester in college for all that effort.
                    Melissa

                    DS (MP4M) - 10
                    DS (MP3A) - 8
                    DS (1) - 7
                    DD (Adorable distraction) 4

                    Comment


                      #11
                      MBentley, is your son set on wanting to go into a more life-science/biological engineering (like Biomedical, Medical Physics, Environmental, etc.)? Or do you foresee him going a more general/traditional route of engineering (like Mechanical, Electrical, Civil)? Or another path? Does he have a college or university in mind already or is it way too early?

                      it's hard to answer your questions in an absolute sort of way as there are a lot of variables involved. Agreed about DE classes being a huge time commitment. Also agreed that there would be times that it would be wise to get a year of A&P under one's belt rather than go for the AP Bio credit.

                      In situations like yours, I really do think that one benefits by compiling all of the information and doing a "costs/benefits" analysis. There is no easy answer or absolute correct answer for all people at all times. But there are good/better/best answers for you and your son with the information you have and it depends on certain variables (major, college, what that college wants, what you want to accomplish as Mom in his homeschool years, desired occupation, etc). Finding out more from your son and also (if possible) keeping in mind what college he would like to go to and talking to them about their preferences and suggestions will help the cause. Also of help would be shadowing someone in the field and picking their brain about options and class choices (again, if possible).

                      I wish there was a simple, always-correct answer of yes, it is better to take A&P than AP Bio, but I just do not think there's a way that someone can say that definitively and with full confidence that it will always be the case.
                      Last edited by Beorn; 02-08-2022, 10:23 AM.
                      '22/'23 - 5th MP Year
                      HS Dad & HLN Teacher
                      ​​​​​Married to Faculty HS Mom
                      8S, 3nd MP @ Home & HLN
                      6D, 1st MP @ Home & HLN
                      5S, K MP @ Home & HLN

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Beorn

                        Sound advice. He wants to go the more general route (mechanical, electrical or even chemical or petroleum). It's too early to tell about colleges but time moves by so fast. I just like to know where "I" am going with it. Thank you for this.
                        Melissa

                        DS (MP4M) - 10
                        DS (MP3A) - 8
                        DS (1) - 7
                        DD (Adorable distraction) 4

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by MBentley View Post
                          Beorn

                          Sound advice. He wants to go the more general route (mechanical, electrical or even chemical or petroleum). It's too early to tell about colleges but time moves by so fast. I just like to know where "I" am going with it. Thank you for this.
                          I am glad to know (for your sake) that he knows he wants to go a more general route in engineering, MBentley. That will help you...unless he changes his mind.

                          You are asking the right questions and thinking about the right possibilities. It is definitely best to think these things through ahead of time (if possible and as much as possible) than doing so after the fact of even in the midst of difficult decisions, so I commend you for that. Keep picking your son's brain, thinking and talking through possibilities, asking his opinion on decisions as they come up, and training him up in the way he should go.
                          '22/'23 - 5th MP Year
                          HS Dad & HLN Teacher
                          ​​​​​Married to Faculty HS Mom
                          8S, 3nd MP @ Home & HLN
                          6D, 1st MP @ Home & HLN
                          5S, K MP @ Home & HLN

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