Discovering Design with Biology
This laboratory-based high school biology course is the first biology course a college-bound student should take. It gives the student an introduction to how living organisms are designed, how they interact with one another, and how they interact with their physical environment. Students are taught how biologists classify life, the chemical processes that make life possible, the structures of RNA and DNA, and the designs of the different cells found in living organisms. Students also learn the means by which photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and cellular reproduction occur. They then learn the current state of biotechnology. With the molecular and cellular basis of life covered, the students are then given a survey of the different kinds of organisms found in nature: archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. The students then learn the biogeochemical cycles that keep environments hospitable to life, which leads to a discussion of ecosystems. Throughout the course, students see that life is the result of design and that organisms have been given the ability to adapt to their surroundings. In addition, they learn various problems associated with the modern evolutionary synthesis.
The course consists of 180 hours of instruction, 40 of which involve hands-on experiments. The experiments include extracting DNA from fruit, examining the effects of temperature and pH on enzymes, exploring osmosis and diffusion, building a pedigree, culturing bacteria, growing and examining fungi, and analyzing the structure of a feather. In addition, there are several experiments that explore the microscopic world, including identifying the stages of mitosis, studying live bacteria that were cultured by the student, identifying budding in yeast, and analyzing the microscopic structure of plants and animals. There are also four dissection experiments: the earthworm, crayfish, fish, and frog.
Building biology from the ground up, this creation-based approach to science introduces students to the characteristics and organization of life, the scientific method, and the chemistry of life before building upon cell theory and division. Once the foundations are laid, genetics (Mendelian and non-Mendelian), biotechnology, single-celled organisms and fungi, animals, human anatomy and physiology, plants, environmental science, and ecosystems are taught. The authors take a conversational approach, so students will find more reading and fewer pictures compared to other curricula. This sets students up for success, even for families without a strong science background.
A full lab experience is integral to this program. There are a total of 38 experiments that will take a minimum of 40 hours to complete. Labs are divided into three types: Household, Microscopic, and Dissection. Students must complete the Household experiments, and either the Microscopic or Dissection labs minimally for a full lab credit. Labs have been written for home use with complete supply lists and easy step-by-step instructions. Basic information to keep a lab notebook are included, with expanded instructions found on the author’s website. If choosing to complete the microscopic labs, a microscope with 40/100/400x magnification and coarse/fine focus knobs are required. Optional lab kits are available. See individual descriptions for more information.
Since this course is streamlined for homeschoolers, there are two required components, and numerous supplemental options for student success. The core instruction is found in the hardcover textbook. Along with the appealing narrative writing style, the text includes comprehension and review questions, lab instructions, and answers to the comprehension questions. The text is divided into sixteen chapters, with a suggested 2-week schedule to complete each module. The front of the text gives general schedule guidance, which allows for flexibility to meet your homeschool needs. Conveniently, the appendix includes a daily assignment checklist which follows a 36-week schedule. It is expected that students will need to dedicate one hour per day, 5 days per week to complete the course in one year. Also included in the appendices are reference tables and charts, and experiment supplies by chapter. Purchase of the textbook includes a link to a website with helpful resources including video explanations or experiments (different than the text experiments), sample lab write-ups, an errata sheet, and access to a question-and-answer service with co-author, Dr. Jay Wile. This is a good place to mention that Dr. Wile chose to work with Dr. Paul Madtes, Jr. in this text. Dr. Madtes actively teaches biology at the university level and has a vision to successfully prepare high schoolers for the challenge of college level biology courses. Along with the college preparatory focus, Dr. Madtes endeavors to keep students focused on the Creator and begins each chapter with Scripture. There is no math requirement, other than students being on level in their math abilities.
Typically, students take algebra concurrently with biology. The softcover Answer Key & Tests Book includes reproducible tests and answers, chapter review answers and grading/testing tips. These required components are sold individually or in a package.
If you were to compare this to the Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology, 3rd edition, you will notice that there are fewer illustrations, and a more narrative text. Both courses prioritize a biblical worldview and teach college preparatory content. This course does include one chapter on anatomy and physiology, which is not included in the Exploring Creation with Biology text. Both texts incorporate three types of labs (household, microscopic and dissection); however, Discovering Design with Biology recommends completing two out of three types of experiments for a full lab credit, while Exploring Creation with Biology requires all three be completed for the full lab credit. Other differences are the available teacher/student supports and the fact that the Discovering Design with Biology textbook is hardcover.
Beneficial, supplemental resources include USB Audiobooks, Student Workbook, Lab Kits, and a supplemental reading list for students who want to learn more. See each individual item for more detail. ~Deanne
Believing college preparatory, lab rich science should be a part of every homeschool student’s experience, Dr. Wile provides everything necessary for success. With his conversational approach, there is more reading and fewer pictures compared to other curricula. Rather than intimidating, this beautiful approach assumes there is no teacher present and gives students all they need to know about a subject in a clearly explained, user-friendly format.
The Hardcover Textbook offers textual reading, comprehension and review questions, lab instructions and answers to the comprehension questions. The softcover Answer Key & Tests Book includes reproducible tests and answers to the tests and chapter reviews. It also includes grading and testing tips. USB Audiobooks are chapter readings without comprehension questions or experiments. Set includes Textbook and Answer Key/Test Book. Optional Lab Kits or Student Workbooks are available.
Items listed in this section tend to be complete science programs with a teacher and student component, requiring few supplements besides science supplies.
- Sara C. Staff on Jun 27, 2022
- Dawn M on Jun 2, 2022