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Teaching Science Classically?!

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    Teaching Science Classically?!

    I want to start a conversation about teaching science to 7th and 8th graders from within a classical mindset. I know that the general trend is to wait on the sciences, but assuming that you've decided to at least do SOME science in these grades how do you go about it? AND... can science be taught "classically?"
    Glen Moore

    Take a look at the new "Exploring Creation with ..." series for elementary and middle students available from Apologia. We are using Exploring Creation with Zoology I this year and love it. Also, there is a well-laid out plan for teaching science classically in the Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind. However, it seemed rather overwhelming to me and you have to be careful when using some recommended materials because Bauer tries very hard to be religiously neutral and some of the suggestions are obviously secular. Of course, the plan itself is worth the read, and you can choose your own materials instead of using all her recommendations.
    Last edited by lanasboys; 03-21-2006, 11:52 AM. Reason: typographical error


      Good question...

      I've tried a number of different approaches, and none have been very satisfying.

      What's worked for you? Have you tried anything?

      I work part time on a college campus and hear on a regular basis what colleges look for in applicants. Again and again, when homeschoolers ask about admissions, the one thing that admissions folk advocate is solid lab science courses in high school. It seems unfair to hit up a child with that in 9th grade if they've had no exposure to even the vocabulary or methods of science.

      Perhaps the classical approach assumes that a thorough history background will prepare a child for lab-type science?

      Edited 3/28:

      Ack! I just realized that you, jeremiah 213, are an actual teacher! At the Highlands Latin School, no less! Was this a trick question?
      Last edited by Nicole; 03-28-2006, 04:22 PM. Reason: realization!


        Science instruction

        I was surprised to hear that you find TWTM science overwhelming, because I think it is the easiest subject she outlines in the book. I wonder if I've been doing it all wrong. I just decided what we were going to learn this year (Earth Science and Astronomy), and we've moved little by little through the different aspects of those topics with library read-alouds and experiment books. I also bought a kit for the unit on rocks and minerals. I've found it very low-stress, but maybe I'd better go back to the manual and see if I've missed doing something I'm supposed to do!


          It's probably more me than the plan itself

          Don't go by my being overwhelmed. I have this complex about following a plan completely to the letter. If I don't have something in front of me telling me exactly which resources to use, I feel that I have to use ALL of them or I will miss something important. I know that is completely irrational, but you can see how that would make TWTM's plan seem overwhelming. I feel like I have to cover every recommended resource and do notebook pages and experiments/activities for all of them. I actually think it is a wonderful plan. I just tend to do better when I have something laid out before me that tells exactly what to cover. Then if I go off on a tangent, it's just something extra, and I don't feel like I have missed something of vital importance. So, there is my confession. I'm sure you are doing great with the TWTM Science.
          Last edited by lanasboys; 03-31-2006, 11:01 PM.


            One good thing I noticed about both Apologia and Well-Trained Mind is that they focus on the important concepts rather than memorizing millions of facts (which some of the main-stream science books tend to do) Of course, there are facts and definitions to learn, but students at this level should be emphasizing causes and principles of science.


              The year that I learned about classical education, we were using some Oak Meadow materials, including their online 7th grade Earth Science. It was rather too open-ended, and this was frustrating for us. And then I discovered the Well Trained Mind. We started keeping a notebook (in the way that is suggested in WTM) and that gave us some structure for approaching the OM material. This was not a bad way to go.

              We tried to move over to the WTM approach exclusively this year, but it didn't work for us either, for some of the same reasons suggested by others. I wish we'd just gone ahead and done the Oak Meadow / WTM hybrid approach.

              I'm very, very fond of the Pandia Press REAL science materials available at Classical Home Education. We're using their Life Science with my 3rd grader; he loves it. But they don't have anything out yet for the older crowd.

              Right now I'm toying with purchasing some of the Rod and Staff science texts teacher's manuals. Our family's theology is a little more left-leaning than that of many in the classical education community, and very far to the left of R&S folk, but, I very much like the idea of supporting and nurturing a sense of wonder and delight in the natural world. (One thing that has impressed me with the college science faculty I know is that they are consistently the most delighted people I've ever met!) I was thinking about using some R&S materials, but tweaking it to fit our world view. Is that sacrilege? R&S lab ideas are cheap and, really, pretty wonderful. Or at least the ones I've seen in the samples are.

              My two cents, for what it's worth.
              Last edited by Nicole; 04-08-2006, 09:25 PM.


                Rod & Staff science?

                Oh. And I meant to also ask if anyone out there has looked at any of the Rod & Staff science materials?

                We do find that we needed English grammar, and the R&S English books have given us the tools to de-code Latin grammar. I feel whimpy about that, like if I were a tough Memoria Press / Highlands Latin girl (hey, I read all the articles), I would be able to go without. But there it is. I know lots of folks in the CE community also use R&S English, but I haven't been able to find too many of reviews of R&S science. So I'm curious.


                  Science instruction

                  It's not sacrilege to tweak a textbook, just Scripture. We're Catholic, and there are some Protestant materials that are better than Catholic ones. Unless what I wanted to buy was actually anti-Catholic, I might buy it and tweak it with no guilt.


                    I was just kidding about the sacrilege business. Though you're right.

                    I did learn, however, while double checking the spelling of "sacrilege" that the root meaning has to do with "stealing" sacred things. So basically, stealing is what I would be doing, so I was barking up the right tree in that respect, if not in the "sacred things" department!