Focus on High School (9-12)
After exposing children to high-school and college-level science in elementary school, it'll seem even less threatening in middle school! Level II takes the same manageable approach to science as Level I, breaking topics down into manageable chunks and then explaining concepts in a way that students can easily understand. The structure of the program is very similar too. The program components include a hardcover student text, a teacher's manual, and a lab workbook. Texts are formatted similarly to the Level I texts, but are quite a bit bigger. Chapters are subdivided well into more and more specific topics, and they are broken up into manageable readings. The font is still fairly large and informal at this level, and important vocabulary is colored red. Colorful, computer-generated graphics are abundant and help break up the text and display concepts in a visually-appealing and understandable way. Although there is certainly more text to read at this level, it's still "chunked" so it's not intimidating. Like Level I, summaries and study questions are included at the end of each chapter. As far as content goes, it gets even more exciting at this level. For instance, in Chemistry, chapters cover matter, atoms, the periodic table, chemical bonding (molecular, ionic and covalent), hybrid orbitals, chemical reactions, stoichiometry, chemical equations, acids, bases, acid-base reactions, titrations, mixtures, solutions, surfactants, separating mixtures, carbon chemistry, biochemistry, the chemistry of vitamins and minerals, polymers, biological polymers, DNA, and much, much more. Several topical appendices are also included, as is a fold-out periodic table inside the front cover.
While the student text may not be radically different from the Level I texts, the lab exercises definitely are! At this level, author Rebecca Keller offers students the opportunity to develop their own experiments to discover the scientific concepts they've been reading about. In the first three labs, she helps them along by setting up the problem, offering hints, and structuring the following pages to guide students through they might do. In the Chapter 4 lab and beyond, however, students are free to design their own labs. Brief instructions that cover the point of the experiment and a hint or two is all students will have to go on. The following pages are blank but gridded, like a college lab notebook. While it will obviously be intimidating for most students, it's an awesome idea to get kids thinking about how they can investigate and solve the problem rather than following a set procedure. If this is too radical for you and your child to swallow, there is a suggested procedure in the teacher's manual, although it's really only there as a last resort. Several questions are also offered in the teacher's manual for each experiment to help the student "think through the process."
The Teacher's Manual at this level does not include the amount of additional information to accompany the reading as Level I does. However, it does include an estimated text reading and experiment time, as well as a list of suggested materials for the experiments to have on hand. The teacher's manual also includes solutions to the study questions, and as mentioned above, guidance questions and suggested procedures for the experiments. All in all, it's a consistently high-quality follow-up to Level I, with the invitation for students to "take over the lab coat" and create their own investigations.
Please note that there are some errors in the textbook, but errata sheets can be downloaded from the Gravitas website. The author has plans to revise the text in several years, but no changes will be made in the immediate future.