General Science for our Eighth Grader {Review}

There comes a time in our roadschool science classes when we shift from mom-led learning to student-directed study. That is usually around the eighth grade for us, and it always begins with Apologia.

Elijah is entering the eighth grade, so he is beginning the independent years of science study. The course he is studying is Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition (affiliate link). His sisters have been through the second edition, so this is not a new experience for us, but there are some updates.

Apologia sent us the following for review:

  • Textbook
  • Student notebook
  • Solutions and test booklet

I’m going to talk to you like I like you and like you like me. You don’t have to like me, but pretend we like each other and we’re having coffee and I ordered mine fully caffeinated with an extra dose of espresso, ‘kay? That means I’m going to prattle on about what I love about this program, and you can wish you had ordered my drink instead of your own half-caf. Sound good? I thought so.

So, friend, here is what I love about Apologia’s Exploring Creation with General Science program. The textbook speaks to the student clearly and with respect. My kids pull their (father’s) hair out when authors try to be trendy and cutesy and ultimately end up talking down to the kids. No such annoyance in this text! The child is treated like he has a brain, which is great if he has a brain.

If he doesn’t have a brain, however, all is not lost. Of course, you can step in and help him out. Because this is homeschool science for middle school, this is most likely the student’s first foray into independent science studies, so most parents and many students are a little, shall I say, scared. Don’t be! The nice thing about the course is that it isn’t so hard that your average Joe or Jane can’t step in and figure out what’s going on. Seriously, I can figure it out, with or without caffeine!

Also, there is a way to contact the publisher with questions. Support is available! Isn’t that fantastic?!

I also love that everything they learn is set within a Biblical framework. It isn’t filled with annoying God-speak, but it does help prepare the students to “give an answer for what you believe,” which is a Biblical mandate. The child will have solid scientific evidence for Biblical truths, such as the crucial creation account. Why is that crucial? Because if that isn’t true, what else might not be true?

Third-ish, I like that it’s independent. Seriously, I knew from the get-go that I do not have the discipline to teach all the subjects to all the people for all the years, so Apologia’s self-taught texts are an answer to prayer.

Fourth, the text isn’t dry. It’s bordering on a living book, I’d say, especially in the realm of text books. Of course, it’s not a Jane Austen novel, sadly…or thankfully, depending on your opinion of my friend Jane. (Don’t you be messing with my Jane!)

Fifth, the experiments are doable. We don’t have all the doo-dads and gizmos that you normal folks have in your houses, due in part to my sometimes fanatical decluttering and also to the more obvious fact that we live in a travel trailer and drive around the country full-time. I don’t even keep balloons or wrapping paper on hand. Need a paper clip? Ask someone else. I got nothin’. That said, it’s not hard for us to find what’s needed for the experiments and to be able to follow through on some of the Explore More activities. We don’t do all of them, because sometimes we just want to forge ahead and not stop and wait for Mom to get that elusive item from the store, but they are still pretty much all doable. (By “we” I mean Elijah. I don’t do anything except forget to get that elusive item at the store. No worries, real life parents!) Also, I don’t think too many of you will weep too loudly about things such as having to buy TWO kinds of chocolate chips for cookies. I love homeschool!

The lab supply list at the end of the text makes everything simple to have on hand. You know, simple for you organized people. Ha! I still forget stuff.

Now, what’s my child learning in Exploring Creation with General Science, and how much effort does this require?

Here’s a basic look at the contents:

  • Module 1: History of Science–Search for the Truth (The student learns about science through the ages.)
  • Module 2: Scientific Inquiry and the Scientific Method (This also talks about “wrong science.”)
  • Module 3: Documenting and Interpreting Experimental Results
  • Module 4: Scientific Analysis and History (Includes discussions of the Bible and world age)
  • Module 5: Earth Science–Astronomy
  • Module 6: Earth Science–Geology and Paleontology
  • Module 7: Earth Science–Meteorology and Oceanography
  • Module 8: General Chemistry
  • Module 9: General Physics
  • Module 10: Life Science
  • Module 11: General Biology
  • Module 12: Marine Science
  • Module 13: Environmental Science (includes discussions of population size and worldview)
  • Module 14: Science and Creation (addresses creation as it relates to each aspect of science module by module–priceless!)

Each module also includes a summary, a study guide for that module test, and answers to the “on your own” questions. Very helpful.

As you can see, the modules cover a broad scope of science. Your child will have a great knowledge level far superior to what I had at that age. Even though this was developed for seventh graders, this even works as a freshman year science study, especially if the student does the extra activities.

Regarding effort, with about an hour a day of work, the student can stay on track by working on science four days a week, which is our schedule anyway. An hour is a bump up from what we do in grade school, so it is serious prep for high school. I have, in fact, had a child who used this course for freshman high school, but I have also had one that started in seventh grade, which is completely doable and is where Apologia places the course if you follow their guidelines exactly. (We don’t, because we mostly enjoy doing science together and always pass someone into the independent years with a bit of reluctance.)

The work varies from reading in the text to doing experiments to taking notes and recording experiments in the student notebook. It’s nicely varied to keep it interesting, but it’s a substantial load of information. They are learning well and they are taking on a lot of independent responsibility. Yet, it is manageable and interesting.

The student notebook is excellent prep for taking notes in high school. The note-taking here is guided, but it provides the students with an idea of what to look for as they study harder materials without an accompanying student book. That said, the student book is not just a workbook. There are plenty of open-ended sections where you record interesting or important facts to remember…a.k.a. take notes.

There is also a solutions and test booklet with loose leaf tests as well. We’re not really testers, but this does come in handy anyway as a review of each level.

As far as we’re concerned, I’m going to have Elijah continue at a slower pace, because he’s also finishing up Apologia Anatomy and Physiology with us. He can handle the extra workload, so I won’t slow him down intentionally, but I won’t require four consistent days a week for the time-being.

A note to those of you who have the second edition text, the third edition student notebook is not a good fit for the second edition text. Keep the editions together. There is too much change to make it work well without frustration in my easily frustrated opinion.

Some general non-cued thoughts from my kids who have used this:

  • This is fun!
  • I love Apologia General Science!
  • I love all Apologia science.
  • There were a lot of experiments that were messy and inconvenient (remember we live in a travel trailer), but other than that I thought it was good.
  • I liked it!

Whenever anyone asks me about science recommendations, I don’t hesitate to direct them to Apologia. We have never been disappointed. Read more about Apologia General Science right here.

Please read what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew think by clicking right here.

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  1. I always check here to see if your all ok. I haven’t seen you vlog for a while. I hope to see you soon.

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