High school level science is probably the most intimidating subject for homeschool parents besides math, and, of course, you have to know some algebra to make the most of chemistry and physics. Thoughts of family rooms taken over by science experiments, not to mention dangerous chemicals if you have little ones in the home, make one want to chuck the whole thing. Most universities have a 2-3 credit science requirement including at least one credit with a lab. So, something has to be done.
You can enroll your student in community college classes, but that can get expensive. If you’ve looked at some of the curriculum packages available, you know that they can get expensive. Then there’s the lab work that should accompany that curriculum package. I’ve found some useful and less expensive solutions to this problem
My teens like to work on the computer, so I went looking for chemistry software and finally settled on Exploring Creation with Chemistry published by Apologia Educational Ministries. The course content was excellent and the price was right, just $65. You may also purchase a hardcopy textbook set that includes the labs and solutions set for $79. I also looked at the Switched on Schoolhouse 11th grade science, which sells for $69.95. I’ve used SOS for other subjects. It has a good interface and covers the material well. It is a little more on the textbooky side.
But what about those labs? Apologia also sells a lab set for $50 that contains the equipment needed to complete the labs that are provided with the software. It’s also possible to buy a MicroChem Kit from Quality Science Labs. This kit is designed to perform 17 standard chemistry labs using micro doses of chemicals. The kits come with enough supplies to complete the labs five times. A MicroChem Kit plus lab manual costs $119. The lab solution I found that worked for me because it was chemical free and therefore mess free was an inexpensive software program called Model ChemLab. This lab software actually has students performing lab experiments in a virtual lab. If you would titrate in a real lab, you titrate in this lab. Chemicals are measured and placed in the proper lab equipment. Students keep a lab notebook and all experiments are simulated real-time, so data from each experiment can be collected and will change if the parameters of the experiment are changed. Model ChemLab Standard for use on one computer is just $29.99.
My total cost for high school chemistry - $95, and it’s all reusable for the next kid down the line.
I had pretty much given up on physics at home. That is until I discovered a new publisher who produces a series of digital textbooks and lab software. Kinetic Books digital physics texts offer traditional physics text content with actual simulations on interactive problems. Students think and work physics as an integrated part of their learning. Conceptual Physics is for the average high school student, and Principles of Physics is for the more advanced high school student who may want to take the Advanced Placement Physics B exam. Conceptual Physics is $29.95. Principles of Physics is $39.95.
How about that physics lab? Kinetic Books also has Virtual Physics Lab which offers 16 lab simulations. These aren’t quite the same thing as the Model ChemLab software for chemistry. These simulations don’t give you the full sense of actually setting up and conducting an experiment, but since they were designed to simulate experiments that are difficult or dangerous to do, that’s okay. The cost is just $29.95. To get a more hands-on physics lab experience, I suggest an easy to use physics experiment book like Hands-On Physics Activities with Real-Life Applications by James Cunningham and Norman Herr. This book has 200 physics activities arranged by topic and has solutions that tell you what ought to happen and why. You can pick the activities that suit your needs. You’ll find it available for just $20.76 in the Eclectic Homeschool Resource Center physics section.
My total cost for high school physics - $80 - $90, and its all reusable for the next kid down the line.
For reviews of these and other high school level science resources, visit the Eclectic Homeschool Online Review Department.