Three Homeschooling Moms
about Lab Science:
(I added a third testimony after giving this page a title,
and didn't want to lose the link connection.)
I was really struggling with a feeling of incompetence and also just not wanting to do some of the subjects ~ lab science in particular ~ since I didn't like them myself! My boys are in 9th and 12th grades and plan to go to college, one into the medical field. Of course, this started the old concern about educational gaps and pretty soon I was completely overwhelmed! As I began planning the courses and actually getting input from my son and husband, I began to see that I was getting caught up in the "school at home" thing again.
Well, first thing I did was pray for direction! But let me back up... I had bought Barb Shelton's Lab Science Book a couple of years before, after attending one of her seminars. I have to say that I totally misunderstood what the book was about! I just figured it was a "lab" book. But I also knew that I liked Barb's ideas and I figured if she wrote the book then it was something I probably needed!! However, I didn't get around to reading it for many months as Form+U+La totally engrossed me during that time.
It was during the fevered time when the frenzy of buying and selling curriculum begins that I began thinking about my younger son's science requirements. I bought a physical science textbook, a biology text and lab book, chemistry text and some intro physics stuff. (all of which I had to re-sell!) At this point I remembered Barb's Lab Science book and began reading it. I finished it in a couple of hours and started over again. I talked with my husband some more and prayed some more.
After skimming the book again I was exhausted and went to bed. Sometime in the night I woke with the idea in my head that I needed to do something different in science for my son. I couldn't sleep until I got up and figured it out. I picked up the Lab Science Book again and it seemed to open right to the page of the class that Barb had designed for her own kids called "Lab Science Survey Framework". I thought "Eureka!" (which means "I found it!") This is what I need to do for my younger son! He is not interested in a college degree that requires heavy science but he does like machines and physical science type stuff and I felt there were some things he just needed exposure to in order to be a well-rounded person.
The next morning my husband and I wrote an outline for our son based on the concept of "large to minute." (as in "small) We began with the big picture (astronomy), to earth science (including weather and ecology), to biology, to microbiology, to chemistry and physics. Using Dorling Kindersley's "Science Encyclopedia" as the main resource, we then filled in with 15 to 20 other books from Usborne, TOPS, Dorling Kindersley, Kathleen Julicher, biology/anatomy coloring books, etc. I have many books on rocks, weather, oceans, volcanoes, birds, etc.
Whatever I had on hand, we tried to use as a resource even if it was just to read a page or two from it. I have to give a big thumbs up to The Private Eye! This concept is being used in all of our studies ~ not just science! The only textbook we will use is for biology in order to plan the experiments and labs that my husband thinks are important. He is a microbiology major so this is important to him! Plus, we have an excellent microscope and many, many slides already, so we figured, why not? We are sharing these resources with several homeschool families from our church. I am writing a schedule of dissections and experiments so they can plan their studies to coincide with our lab times.
I shared all of this to say that Barb's Lab Science Book allowed me to see that lab science doesn't have to be intimidating or taught only from a textbook by a certified teacher! As a starting point for anyone considering teaching a lab science, I highly recommend Lab Science: The How, Why, What, Who, 'n' Where Book. It is not a technical book on lab science but rather a collection of experiences, ideas, resources, and the writings of over 30 home education and science teachers, authors and suppliers. No, I don't have any "stake" in pushing Barb's book but I know from experience how intimidating the thought of lab science can be. It's not a " miracle worker" but it sure helped me get past the idea that I had to teach with a textbook and my feelings of total inadequacy!
This book is full of ideas from people who have already "been there, done that"! It is sort of like going to the grocery store and picking fruit to make a big fruit salad! If you made it completely out of apples and oranges it wouldn't be nearly as good as if you added peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, mango, passion fruit... and the list goes on! Understand?! Our science course is composed of pieces from many of the ideas presented in the Lab Science book ~ and I must say... It looks delicious!
~ Donna Heck; Homeschooling Mom in Oregon
I wanted to thank you for writing the lab science book. I read your book on Senior High last year (several times) and have planned out the high school years for our children. (In fact, your Senior High Form+U+la book freed me from the fear of the high school years and measuring credits, etc. and it is because of this book that I can face the high school years with confidence and excitement.)
However, there was one class that I was dreading, lab science ~ any lab science. I know our family well enough to know that we do NOT do well with textbooks. But at the same time I didn't feel confident enough to put together my own course in lab science as I would wonder what to exclude and include. However, after reading in your book what all of the various "experts" had said, and then looking at the various frameworks, I have come to realize that I can design a lab science course that will meet the needs of my kids and not feel tied to textbooks." ... The best thing about your lab science book is that it now has me excited about teaching lab science (except doing the dissections) because I understand the reasons for studying it. Your book gave our upcoming studies a sense of "purpose" and I realized that our study of the sciences would not be "meaningless". The courses that I had been dreading the most are now ones that almost excite me the most (ok, so I really prefer history).
Thanks for writing your book. Not only did it help me to design a plan for our studies, but it helped me get excited about them also!
~ Peggy Flint; Homeschooling Mom in Alaska
Barb's Lab Science Book isn't a book you "use with" something else. Go to the links Barb provided (below) to read about it and get a sense of what the book is. For me, when I first read it, it was an incredibly freeing way to LOOK at "science class" in general. I didn't have any high schoolers back then, so "lab science" per se wasn't a concern, but we were SO SICK of [insert large, famous Christian publisher's name here] textbook science. My oldest was in tears nearly every day, and *I* couldn't see the sense in it, either, so we basically "gave up" on science for a while. Maybe because she was my first little ewe lamb and guinea pig, I tended to be much more "bound up" with traditional school with her than with my younger children (both boys).
So reading Barb's book was like hearing someone tell me, "Hey! You in there! Science is FUN! There are Many, Many Ways to Approach Science Education! Now, Shuck Those Chains Off and Jump In!" Once I got over that hurdle of the way I was looking at "teaching science," I myself didn't have any more problems with thinking about "lab science." But I know there are many parents of children approaching high school who DO have this worry about "labs," and how they will provide these experiences for their children.
Barb's book gives many "Excerpts from the Experts," little essays or writings from noted science teachers and/or homeschoolers. Very encouraging and eye-opening! Also there are lots of forms and examples of how Barb used them, similar to the way Form+U+la is set up. And the book starts out with a section called "Formulating Your Perspective." Here is a "revealing" quote from page I-4:
the options, a variety of ways to carry them out, and many
record-keeping ideas. Whether they are "college-prep"
will depend on what you do with all of this."
And here's another quote from the next page of the book:
"scope and sequence" that God placed in their hearts and
all those wonderful resources they've collected, and weave it
all into the actual fabric of their Lab Science credit!
Not just fun little supplements to their
"real" Lab Science course!"
~ Amy Beckel; Homeschooling Mom in WA
I got all these graphics from:
To the Lab Science Helps & Resources Main Page
To the Reader Comments Main Page
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