This area can be as broad as you want it to be. However, we will begin with the end in mind and talk about high school first.
For a university-ready high school transcript, you will want to show 4 years of science. There are some particular courses that they will look for – one year of Earth or Environmental Science is usually required (and needs to be identifiable as such); one year of life sciences (this could be biology, anatomy, etc); one year of physical science; and one year of chemistry. There must be labs involved. You could in most cases skip out on the chemistry, biology, or physics and take a second year of any of the three, or even another Earth sciences course, but you cannot opt out of the Earth or Environmental science in most cases. If you are going to major in an area of science, then the university will spell out what the requirements are to get into that major.
In the U.S., you cannot list "General Science" on your transcript and expect the university to accept it. In other countries though, such as Canada, their requirements are different and General Science is usually a requirement for Canadian universities.
Interestingly, this is an area where we find middle school science to be irrelevant. By taking the Biology textbook for 7th grade and placing it next to the Biology textbook for high school, they are nearly identical in content and structure. There may be some additional vocabulary in the high school textbook, and fewer cute cartoons while using a more sophisticated font and layout, but the CONTENT is very similar. Therefore, we encourage parents with middle school children to spread their wings – go ahead and teach the high school Biology. No middle school student ever suffered from extending their science vocabulary.
There are no "requirements" for elementary level students in the U.S., except that in most states, you just need to teach science every year. Some states outline specific subject areas, or a specific number of hours, but so far we have not seen any who break down how it is to be taught. Most standards have a hodgepodge of science topics that are taught each year. The world is your playground, go explore! However, keep in mind that early introduction to scientific terms such as chemical reactions, hypothesis, biological terms, etc. should be done. For example, if you are exploring the life cycle of a butterfly, use the same biology terms that you would use in a high school text. That way, when they do get in the upper science courses these terms will not be unfamiliar or intimidating.
Thoughts are the same as for Elementary science. Go have fun but use mature terms, don't dumb down your science terms!
Health is generally a science topic. Here are our thoughts on health:
Health courses should encompass various methods to learn about the human body and are generally separated by three age groups. Parents can decide which group they want to place their child into based on individual ability and comprehension level, regardless of the grade they are actually in. If a parent feels their 3rd grader can handle more advanced discusssion, then they can choose to place the child into the upper courses. If they feel that their 6th grader isn't ready to learn about the body systems, then they can choose to place that child into a primary course which doesn't get into things they are not developmentally ready for. This is one of the awesome flexibility options in homeschooling. Each course should provide reading assignments, engaging videos, printable worksheets and assignments, hands-on work, and assessments.
Note: HECOA does NOT teach about gender neutrality or personal exploration of the body in ways that are deemed inappropriate for the majority of the world. You can rest assured that your child will not be exposed to anything in our health material that would otherwise be reserved for married couples behind closed doors.
Anatomy and Physiology (grades 9-12) – This level should be an advanced anatomy and health course. Students should not only explore what the human body is composed of, but they should also learn of specific diseases and afflictions that humans are dealing with and investigate ways to erradicate illness and disease. This can also be a preparatory course for students who want to go into medical professions. Thus, they should learn the medical treatments as well as the natural treatments for illness and disease. It also prepares them to go into holistic health professions and to take care of their future family. So they get an introduction to both concepts and both worlds – and – note that this is NOT taught in institutionalized schools! Reproduction can and should be discussed without unnecessary graphic content.
Elementary Health (grades 4-8) – Elementary health should explore the eight systems of the human body. They should learn how food plays a vital role in our health and how to make healthy food choices – – and again – note that this is NOT taught in institutionalized schools! They should also learn about personal hygiene and exercise appropriate for upper elementary to middle school levels. In this level, the topic of reproduction can and should be introduced by discussing meiosis and mytosis, without graphic explanation or visuals.
Primary Health (grades K-4) – This age group should have a gentle introduction to the human body and is intended to be overseen by a parent, so the materials should be provided by way of a parent teaching guide and not allow children to get on websites or into places without parental supervision. Together with their parent, children identify the five senses and learn how to appreciate the ways in which their senses allow them to know and understand the world around them. They should also learn about personal hygiene, healthy eating, and exercise appropriate for primary grade levels. Reproduction is not usually discussed at this level, however home educators have the right to choose what they teach and when.
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The Unbreakable Bubble: Fostering Scientific Discovery – Can you put your finger through a bubble… without causing it to burst? Learn to enter your child’s natural inquisitive world, without bursting their bubble. Children are born observers, asking why and how… turning objects over and inside out… taking things apart. However, many teaching methodologies burst a child’s passion for observation, a key element to scientific discovery. Dr. Keller will show you how to use open inquiry to launch scientific exploration and cultivate creativity. Are you ready to question like Einstein? A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
Science is Fun! Learn to “Play” Like Einstein – With the ABC’s of ScienceLearning content is important. Kids need to know about atoms and the difference between force, energy, and work. But learning content covers only one aspect of doing real science. Dr. Keller will discuss the difference between explicit and tacit education and will show you how to help your kids have fun learning the ABCs of science while learning to think and “play” like Einstein. A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
Yes! Teach Kids Chemistry and Physics In First Grade! – Most elementary and middle school science books give kids a sampling of random topics. Kids learn a little about the solar system, how a plant grows, and the human body but they never learn the basic building blocks of science: chemistry and physics. Without some knowledge of chemistry and physics, kids simply cannot understand real science and will struggle with upper level science classes. Dr. Keller will show you just how easy it is to teach kids chemistry and physics to your child and how this helps build the foundation they need for advanced science classes. A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
The Internet: Resource or Distraction or Both? – Mostly, using the internet has become an integral part of learning for many homeschool families. Today, students can take online classes, read online books, and watch online videos all as part of their educational experience. However, do these activities really help students learn, or do they simply distract students making it difficult to focus? Dr. Keller will show you the latest findings on how the internet affects learning and how to help your family get the most from the internet and ways to help your kids learn without being distracted. A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
Through the Thinking Lens: How to Teach Critical Thinking in Science – Learn how to build a critical thinking lens with your students. This lens will help your students examine in detail the scientific claims and counterclaims made by scientists. By learning how to evaluate scientific data your student will gain a better understanding of how scientific process and thought occurs and will have deeper knowledge of scientific theories. A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS
Creationism, Darwinism, Intelligent Design – Oh my! – Opposing viewpoints in science and why they are importantScience education is becoming more and more polarized as both Christian and secular families try to “protect” their kids from opposing viewpoints. Dr. Keller will explain how this approach to science education has tragic consequences for kids from all faiths. Dr. Keller will show you how to help your kids examine opposing viewpoints and gain a richer understanding of science without compromising your family values and beliefs. A one-hour video presentation by Dr. Rebecca Keller, of Real Science 4 Kids, hosted by HECOA during the 2014 Not Back to School Summit. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS