Monday, August 31, 2009

Thoughts on Real Science 4 Kids Curriculum

The following post was inspired by my homeschool planning for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The revised and expanded 2009 edition of "The Well Trained Mind" recommends the science curriculum "Real Science 4 Kids" published by Gravitas Publications. I predicted it!

Here is the article explaining this piece of news, as seen on the publisher's website.

After I heard Rebecca Keller, scientist and author of the Real Science 4 Kids speak at the 2008 MassHope Christian Homeschool Convention, it seemed to me that Keller's philosophy was right in line with the trivium as described in The Well Trained Mind. That is, that science topics are covered lightly but with real terms in elementary grades, done again in middle school grades going deeper, and then covered again in high school on typical, deeper levels. The goal, described by Keller in her lecture, is to have younger kids experience lighter and easier versions of the data and ideas, from the scientific terms to being taught real scientific method and keeping lab notebooks starting in grade 4 (level 1 curriculum). This way as the older students revisit the topics, it is familiar ground and is not scary. When more complicated and difficult content is experienced in high school grades it again is familiar and non-scary therefore opening up the learner to have an easier time understanding and learning it.

I have purchased level 1 for the three topics available: biology, chemistry and physics. I began using physics last year but it fell by the wayside. I plan to pick it up again this year and to use it diligently.

The level 1 programs (grades 4-6) are not a FULL year program in my opinion. They can be done quickly as unit studies over about two months time in a concentrated way or can be done slowly done over a number of months for a less intense experience. This is good to know because if you had some other science plans in mind it may be the case that you could use both the other thing (different topics) and this curriculum too for one or all three of the topics.

They also offer a pre-level 1 series for grades K-3 which I have not seen.

I read online today that the middle school programs (level 2) for grades 7-8 are considered full year programs.

Samples of the curriculum may be viewed on the publisher's website.

A last note that some of you may be curious about is that this curriculum does not have religious content in it. Keller said in her lecture that she is Christian and that the original curriculum had Christian content but was advised if they are to market it to public schools the religion would have to come out, so out it went.

Real Science 4 Kids has three components: a textbook for the student to read, a lab notebook, and a teacher's manual. All can be purchased at the publisher’s website as well as at homeschool supply companies such as Rainbow Resource Center. Here are a couple of links to products sold on Amazon:

Disclosure: I purchased some of this company’s products with my own money for our family’s personal use for homeschooling.

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Crimson Wife said...

A friend in my local homeschool support group is using RS4K and she let me look over her materials last week.

It reinforced my decision to use a different main curriculum for our study of chemistry as I just don't think RS4K would be the right "fit" for my oldest for various reasons. Don't get me wrong, I think it seemed like a solid program- just not the best one for her, KWIM?

But I *was* impressed by some of the supplemental KOGS workbooks. I'm seriously considering getting the "Language Connects to Chemistry" and the "Philosophy Connects to Chemistry" ones to use this year.

Angie Phipps said...

I have not seen the revised WTM, but I have been convinced to use RS4K this coming year. I really wanted to start it this year but felt like I wasn't ready with our schedule yet. I'm so excited, and I can't wait to begin using it with my two boys next year.

Thanks for the post!