Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn't it? How can chemistry - a word that evokes so much moaning and groaning from high schoolers - be friendly? Not with all that scientific jargon like electron affinities, electronegativities, atomic numbers, and all that other stuff you can only imagine "real" scientists caring about. But it's true - this is truly a chemistry course designed to be "user-friendly" and it covers all the basics of a chemistry course with clear explanations and fun games and hands-on activities to make the knowledge "stick."
The program was most recently revised in 2010 and has two teacher edition options: one with more hands-on and game activities (great for co-ops or multiple student classes) and one with fewer group activities and modified activities for one-student use (one-on-one homeschool use). The student book includes the lesson text, worksheets, lab instructions and lab worksheets. Manipulatives are a separate purchase. A teacher’s edition (choose from either version) is necessary to teach the course. Not only does this resource contain the answers, supply lists, tests and final exam, but also all of the teaching information. Each lesson’s "Teaching Tips" begins with a “game plan” which lists the activities in the order that they should be done. Following the game plan are in-depth instructions for preparation and/or instruction for each part of the lesson. Traditionally, one of the unique characteristics of this program was that it has many hands-on and group activities, but if you’re just planning on using the course with one child, you may feel like there are things you have to miss out on. Due to this, the publishers have created “1-Student” Teacher Editions with reduced group games and modified activities to use with one student. These can be used with the same student text and manipulatives. All answer key content is found in Vol. 2 of the teacher edition. The manipulative set is also necessary for the course and includes four card sets and the Doo-Wop board and pieces. Now produced as a bound, printed booklet, you will need to cut out the cards and cut apart the cover for the Doo-Wop pieces.
Optional components include the student workbook, solutions manual, Audiobook USB flash drive and a course video license for families. If the brief answers in the teacher's manual answer key are leaving you stumped, you may find the full solutions in the solutions manual helpful. The student workbook contains ONLY the consumable student and lab worksheets from the student book with no text or teaching material. Please note that no part of the course is reproducible, so you will need to buy student material for each student taking the course. Two students may be able to share a text if one student works in a workbook instead. If you're using the program in a co-op situation, have students who are auditory learners, or need additional help teaching the program, then you might want to check out the Audiobook USB flash drive. Lessons on the audiobook are read directly from the text (with occasional additional commentary) by author Joey Hajda. The visuals are minimal, with lecture-style bullet-points or notes appearing on screen, occasionally with clip art. The resolution seems a bit fuzzy viewing on a desktop computer monitor. I would consider this most strongly if you feel that hearing the lesson read aloud will help your children. The Video course (family license) provides access to one family to course videos where Dr. Hajda teaches through the lesson with a slide presentation and other visuals.
There are 32 lessons, each containing informational text and activities. Each lesson begins with several pages of text which introduce and explain the chemistry topic covered. As you read through it, the first thing you notice is how personable the text is. Although it explains everything you need to know, it takes the time to put each concept into the simplest of terms so it's easier for young students to understand. For example, instead of a tiny paragraph on energy levels of electrons, pages are devoted to it. These are the same topics covered in chemistry textbooks, but explained at a level that everyone can understand. This prepares the way for a heavier chemistry course, because you already will have covered the concepts and will be prepared to study more advanced ones. Early lessons introduce the structure of the atom, neutrons, protons, electrons, elements and symbols, the periodic table, and atomic numbers. They progress to energy levels, notations, valence electrons and element families, reactivities, ionization energy, affinities, atomic radius, ions, chemical reactions, compounds, bonding, stoichiometry, molarity, and gas laws.
For extra reinforcement, there are lots of worksheet activities, hands-on activities and better yet, games and manipulatives! After you read about the major concepts, there is often a game that is designed to cement it in your mind. For example, after you read about the filling order of electrons, you play "Doo-Wop." And after you learn the element families, you get to play "Friendly Neighborhood." There are also bingo games, a game like war with atomic radii, and more. Manipulatives include gameboards, flashcards and game cards. Rules for the game play are included in the teacher's manual in the lesson that correlates with the game play.
This is an excellent introduction to chemistry for any age, but if you were planning on using a full-fledged lab course in the high school level (like Bob Jones Chemistry), this would probably be best used in middle school to familiarize students with the important concepts they'll have to tackle later on. If your students are not intending to take higher-level science classes you could use this at the high school level, although you may wish to combine it with a more lab-oriented book like Experiences in Chemistry (by Kathleen Julicher) for a complete high school lab science. - Jess
Homeschool Chemistry Curriculum, Workbooks, Lab Materials, Kits, Games, and Chemistry Lab Supplies