Top Shelf Science

I really like books, especially science books, that combine informational text, questions to test your comprehension, and activities to "see it for yourself." While this is pretty standard for lower-grade science, you don't often see it at the high school level, which was why I was pretty excited to see this series. Top Shelf Science contains all three of these characteristics and combines them with brief and to-the-point but interesting readings, questions designed to make you push past simple comprehension and write concepts in your own words, and great science experiments that illustrate the concept learned, but are not overly complicated, especially when geared down to a single student. Each book is divided up into specific topics within that branch, each consisting of several lessons and labs. Between 25 and 50 lessons are included in each book. The student labs are considered separate lessons, allowing you to break up the topic more easily into several days, without the pressure of trying to get it all done in one period. As these are high-school level lab activities, they will require more "serious" science equipment, including a microscope (biology), beakers and graduated cylinders, chemicals, and other lab materials. The list will not be extensive for each book, but if you are interested in using this as a lab science program, I would suggest allowing yourself some time to review the book before the school year in order to attain the necessary materials. In the case of chemistry, a decent chemistry lab might be enough to service some of the labs, and a microscope will go a long way for the biology unit. All in all though, these books are well-designed, all the experiments look worth doing, and I would recommend these for any high school curriculum light on the lab portion. Although it would require some effort and preparation, the work is worthwhile, especially for the student who hopes to go on to a science-based college major. Answer keys and appendices are included. Note: The biology course does contain a small unit on evolutionary concepts, as well as a lab on "creating" cell precursors. You may wish to skip this, or use it as a foundation for a high-school level creation vs. evolution study as an opportunity to examine their evidence. - Jess

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Item # 030514
Grades: 9-12
Retail: $37.00
Our Price: $27.95
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