Focus on Science

This series offers versatile supplemental science support with either a science curriculum or a unit study approach, summer science review, or as a base to go further by adding more reading from the library or additional science books. The workbooks combine short, readable science lessons with workbook-style activities, hands-on activities, and suggestions for taking the student's interest beyond the lesson. Each workbook covers the larger science areas in three units: Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. Each unit is then broken down into chapters, each of which is made up of 6 lessons. The lessons consist of a short reading, tailored to grade level, followed by a typical workbook-style activity such as true/false, matching, circling, etc, depending on the grade level. At the end of the chapter, a hands-on activity is offered, and it is designed so that very few (and only commonly-had) materials should be needed. Furthermore, these activities represent the "classical" sort of experiment which would normally demonstrate the topic learned, such as growing mold on bread to observe what decomposers are and why they are important to the ecosystem, planting seeds, and making crystals to observe physical changes of matter. In Level A these activities are very simple and short, and they become more involved in the upper levels. For instance, to observe matter changes in Level A, the student observes a solid (ice cube) changing to liquid form (water), while in Level F, they form epsom salt crystals on a pipe cleaner. Following the activity, a one-page chapter test is given. In Level A, this involves a series of yes/no questions, where by Level F, it is made up of multiple choice questions. Throughout the book, important science vocabulary terms are printed in bold, and these reappear in a glossary at the back of the book. Another interesting feature is the "Careers" page at the end of each unit, where correlated careers are presented along with brief descriptions.

The teacher's guide for each level includes a scope and sequence, unit summaries, objectives, ideas for presenting and guiding the material, demonstrations, further instructions for the hands-on activities, and answers. Blackline masters of problem solving skill worksheets, chapter reviews, unit tests, and unit performance projects are also included. Although this series was designed more for a classroom setting, most of the teaching suggestions would be just as useful in the home.

I would also like to note that by Level F, a lot of good solid material is being introduced, such as the process of mitosis and meiosis, parts of the cell and their functions, the immune system and endocrine system, the plate tectonics theory, etc., which will greatly help as the student heads into heavier science curriculum in junior high and high school. Furthermore, although this is produced by a secular publisher, I found no detectable infusion of evolutionary theory in the levels I reviewed. All in all, I am pretty impressed with the level of information presented in a straight-forward manner, yet it is offered in bites small enough for the elementary student to understand and appreciate. ~ Jess




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