Science Power Basics

This second edition of the useful Power Basics series is stronger and more user-friendly. Targeting a student audience that is typically daunted by the length and complexity of traditional textbooks, this series provides the essentials of a junior or senior high curriculum (on-level content) with below-level readability (4th grade). Learners build literacy and critical-thinking skills as they interpret, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize scientific information. They likewise apply these skills in their daily lives. The step-by-step lessons are manageable with clearly defined examples. Workbook activities provide frequent practice and review while supporting different learning styles.

Traditional textbooks typically are written for an above-average reader, cover a wide range of content and are filled with photographs, illustrations, and other visual elements. For some students the amount of material is overpowering, the visual elements are distracting and the rapid pace is unnerving. Power Basics has streamlined the textbook approach while presenting essential content (adhering to NSE standards) allowing students to succeed.

The program has four components: student book, workbook, teacher's guide, and test packet. Repeating, recognizable icons are used throughout the series.

Each Student Book (of varying lengths) is divided into units each of which has a series of lessons on related topics with one lesson for each topic. Each lesson begins with a clear, student-centered goal and a list of Words to Know introduced in the lessons. (Vocabulary word definitions are included in the glossary found in both the teacher's guide and the student book.) There is a brief introduction to the topic followed by instructional text that presents essential information in short, easy-to-understand sections. This is followed by a practice activity (set of questions) that lets students apply what they've just learned. Each unit concludes with a review (multiple choice questions) and several application activities. The student text has several special features: Think About It - asking students to use critical-thinking skills, Tip - useful hints to help remember specific pieces of information, and Real-Life which shows how the material connects to their own lives. Although sparing, illustrations & charts are interspersed throughout the text which also employs an accent color. A summary of rules and other important information, a glossary with pronunciation guide, and an index make up the reference section accompanying each student text. Application Activities (science observations and experiments) accompany each unit.

For each lesson the consumable Workbook provides a variety of practice and extension activities especially geared for different learning styles. Answers are provided in a separate key. Some of the activities from the Earth & Space Science series: writing short biographical essays of notable scientists, doing reading comprehension, understanding graphic organizer showing the chain reactions to global warming, experimenting with changes in air pressure, producing an illustrated geologic timetable, filling in a vocabulary crossword, drawing a diagram of lake-effect snow.

The Teacher Guide gives an overview of each unit with suggestions for additional extension activities as well as a complete answer key to all the practice activities & unit reviews. Also provided is a chart showing how to correlate the textbook material with the workbook activities. The guide also includes duplicates of the glossary and appendices from the student text. Reproducible graphic organizers (web, hierarchical diagram, fishbone map, and cycle) are useful homeschool tools but the Record-Keeper is more oriented to the classroom. I particularly liked the generic grading rubric for application activities. Determining how to grade projects always seemed to derail me. Some examples of additional activities from the Earth & Space Science series include: researching the four major types of air masses, hosting a guest speaker from water testing facility, creating own fossils, and planning a trip to a planetarium.

The Test Packet includes a pre-test and post-test as well as unit test for each unit in the student text. This packet also includes suggestions for testing students who do not test well along with test-taking strategies for both the Power Basics series and standardized testing.

Each Single Pack includes the Student Book, the Workbook & Key, the Teacher's Guide, and the Test Pack.

This series fills a need within the homeschool community. While not as strong or as challenging as some of our textbook courses, those courses tend to be from Christian publishers and incorporate a biblical worldview. This series from a secular publisher provides a complete course that can be strengthened for a grade-level reader by adding appropriate reading and research projects while using the course as a study framework. ~ Janice




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