The dictionary says that the word apologia (…p'e-lo'jˆ-e, -je), noun, means a formal defense or justification. Matthew 12:37 states "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Dr. Jay Wile used his own words to develop a whole series of Apologia texts in order to defend creation science and to justify the existence of God, in spite of the world's contention that evolution is fact. Wile states on his web site that "Apologia Ministries exists to give the home-schooled student a scientific education that will help him or her make a reasoned defense of the Christian Faith." He also explains that the word apologia "appears eight times in the New Testament, in the context of people defending their faith or actions by reason and logic."
Using 1 Peter 3:15 as his mission statement, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you," Wile believes in spiritual defense. In a recent interview, Wile noted, "In general, if a student learns science well, he or she will be able to make a reasoned defense of the faith, as science strongly supports the Christian faith." In fact, Wile documents several Old-Testament rules "that are indicative of a highly-advanced scientific mind" in his book, Reasonable Faith
, which also documents Wile's conversion to Christianity.
Apologia offers something for everyone, from elementary texts to advanced placement texts, all written in a conversational style that catches some students, particularly those who are used to more pedagogic texts, unawares.
Wile explained that his curriculum is purposefully not written in the same style as Bob Jones University or Abeka science materials. While BJU and Abeka design books for classroom use, Apologia materials are written directly to the student. "They assume that there is a teacher to explain the rough stuff," Wile noted. "We assume that the only teacher is the book, so we explain things more completely. This is also why we have a free help line for when the student gets stuck."
Advanced Chemistry in Creation
is considered a college-preparatory advanced placement course. It is also designed to be the student's fourth and final year high school science class, according to Wile's course sequencing table, located on the Apologia web site at www.highschoolscience.com/course/corseq.html. Three years of biology, chemistry, and physics should be taken first according to this table, with this year as an elective, depending on a student's gifts and/or interests.
This AP Chemistry course should be taken after the student takes a one-year chemistry course, preferably Exploring Creation with Chemistry
, and Algebra 2.
This course, when taken after the first-year course, will fill in the gaps and give the student the equivalent of one year of university-level chemistry. After taking this course, a student can take and AP or CLEP exam to receive credit for a year of college chemistry.
How the Book is Designed
Those who have never used Apologia may need a short primer on the design of Apologia texts. The 493-page hardcover chemistry book is divided into 16 modules, each which should take about two weeks to complete, if a student devotes 45 minutes to an hour every school day to studying science. Students are encouraged to memorize the text in boldface type, as well as all formulas. All in all, the class should take about 32 weeks to complete, giving parents a little wiggle room with the usual 36-week schedule.
This chemistry course covers detailed descriptions of limiting-reagent stoichiometry, atomic and molecular orbitals, intermolecular forces, solutions, equilibria, acids and bases, redox reactions, nuclear chemistry, and organic chemistry.
The book is NOT divided into daily or weekly lesson plans, which on the surface can cause a bit of confusion to parents who are used to a more structured and controlled program. This is more of a text than a built-in daily or weekly curriculum.
The free-flowing text, however, allows students to go at their own pace. This design is great for older students who are self-motivated, but can cause problems for more immature students who don't stay on track without a little nudge. To mitigate those problems, other authors have developed lesson plans for Apologia. Two of these are Lynn Erickson, who sells her lesson plans as 8 1/2 x 11 booklets, and Donna Young, who offers several PDF versions of lesson plans as free downloads on her web site along with a CD, which can be purchased. Information on these materials is included at the bottom of this review.
Each module has On Your Own questions interspersed throughout the text that students are to answer when they come upon them. The answers to these questions are found at the end of each module, along with more comprehensive review questions and practice problems. Answers to the review questions and practice problems are found in the separate 206-page, softcover Solutions and Tests guide, which comes in the Apologia package.
The On Your Own questions, experiments, and figures in this first edition book are outlined in black, which is visually not as pleasing as Wile's second edition science books. One aspect of the book that bothers me: the lines surrounding experiments continue from one page to another in a continuous line, instead of being broken into squares. As a visual learner, I do have to say the text and the lines in the advanced chemistry - along with the advanced physics book - look a little crowded, compared to the newer editions.
The book also has a glossary and index, along with an appendix that contains physical constants, conversion relationships, units, derived units, formulas, and a periodic table of the elements.
The Solutions and Test guide contains answers to the review questions and practice problems for each module, and module tests, along with their solutions. For those with more than one student, Wile gives copy permission for parents to copy the tests for student use. Wile strongly recommends (in bold text) that parents test their students after completing each module, because "if your student is planning to attend college it is absolutely
necessary that he or she become comfortable with taking tests!"
While the second edition of the beginning texts contain more detailed teacher's notes, giving information on how to give grades for this course, this version of the advanced placement guide does not. If you have the second edition of any text, you may want to review the teacher's notes for more information.
Some parents may be concerned about lab experiments, particularly if their children are college-bound (many colleges require at least one lab class on a high school transcript). "We make labs possible at home," Wile explained. "Sometimes they are expensive and annoying, but they are at least possible."
The Apologia labs are known for their accessibility to home use. Along those lines, Wile stated, "In essence, laboratory exercises are not central to learning science. They are fun and interesting, and they often provide visuals for processes that you would otherwise not be able to visualize, but the people who wrote the science we study now (Einstein, Dirac, etc.) never saw a lab sometimes until graduate school. They seemed to learn science pretty well without the benefit of laboratory exercises.
"Since the benefits of laboratory exercises are tangential, there is no reason to invest an enormous amount of money in them. Everyday items can demonstrate the same basic principles as expensive equipment."
Wile explained that while the laboratory experiments were designed for the home, some could be easier if specialized equipment was used. Consequently, Apologia makes lab equipment sets available on its web site, to help make labs more convenient for the student, and more affordable for the parent. However, all chemicals used in this course consist of household materials such as table salt, baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, and so on.
The laboratory equipment required for this course consists of basic equipment plus a chemical science project set. It is different from the set used for the first year chemistry course.
Wile does encourage the use of labs, particularly for strong science students. "They will be beneficial to the student (especially if he or she is science-oriented) but they are not absolutely necessary," he stated, noting that if cost is a stumbling block, the basic labs will suffice.
Several places sell the chemistry labs; a list of vendors that sell ancillary products is included below.
Wile also encourages the creation of a lab notebook for experiments. "This notebook serves two purposes," Wile states in the text. "First, as the student writes about the experiment in the notebook, he or she will be forced to think through all of the concepts that were explored in the experiment. This will help the student cement them into his or her mind.
"Second, certain colleges might actually ask for some evidence that your student did, indeed have a laboratory component to his or her science course. The notebook will not only provide such evidence but will also show the college administrator the quality of the science instruction that you provided to your student."
Wile suggests that lab experiments be conducted by having the student:
1. Read the experiment through in its entirety to gain a quick understanding.
2. Start a new page in the laboratory notebook. "The first page should be used to write down all the data taken during the experiments and perform any exercises discussed in the experiment.
3. Write a brief report right after the page where the data and exercises were written, explaining what was done and what was learned, so that anyone could pick up the book and reproduce the experiment.
Notwithstanding the labs, Wile believes that high school students should be able to learn the science materials on their own, with little help from a teacher or parent, so parents shouldn't be overly concerned with their own abilities. However, he also cautions parents who attempt to teach their children at this level when they have little knowledge of the subject. Instead, he encourages co-learning. Parents should spend time with their students while learning the science alongside them, or at the very least "find one or two serious peers that can work with the child on the subject."
Wile first became interested in home education when he was a professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He was inspired and motivated to write his Apologia series after he discovered parents were sending their students back to school because they were afraid to teach science. "I wrote our courses to keep that from happening," Wile explained. "The only real reason I wrote this curriculum was for the parents," he continued. "The studies and my experiences indicated that homeschooled students were learning science VERY well without my help.
"I personally think that the average homeschooled student can learn from most curricula that are out there. A good curriculum simply makes it easier for both the parent and the student. I hope that we have done that with our curriculum."
Wile offers a question/answer service for Apologia customers. "If there is anything in the modules that you do not understand - from an esoteric concept to a solution for one of the problems - just contact me," he notes in the text. Wile can be contacted on the Apologia web site, or by any of the ways listed in the front of his textbooks.
Additionally, Wile offers Dr. Jay's Science Problem of the Week. The Science Problem of the Week is kept online for one week or after five responses, whichever comes last. "After 12 problems have been posted, Wile notes online, "the person with the most correct answers will win a fabulous prize!"
Wile also offers a $1000 renewable scholarship to a resident of Indiana every year, and has a multitude of lecture handouts, which are downloadable PDF files, on his web site. Some of these are very informational.
Wile also teaches online classes through The Potter's School.
There are several ancillary products, endorsed by Dr. Wile, which go along with the Apologia products. Some of the better known ones include:
Lynn Ericson's Lesson Plans
Ericson, a homeschooling mother, developed these lesson plans for her own children. The plans divide the Apologia text on a daily schedule through 36 weeks. They are available by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rainbow Resource, Tobin's Lab, or Homeschool Bookworm.
Nature's Workshop Plus
Nature's Workshop creates the biology and chemistry kits that Wile sells on his web site and also provides art, drawing, craft, and hobby items on its web site.
Home Training Tools
Home Training Tools also offers Apologia science kits as well as other scientific equipment.
Carla Hardwick's site has a variety of science experiment kits that include materials for general science, physical science, biology, chemistry, elementary astronomy, and elementary botany. Her site also offers a free three-year lesson plan (soon to be changed to a four-year plan) on Creation Science, using the first eleven chapters of Genesis as a foundation.
Nancy Paula Hasseler wrote a book that goes along with Exploring Creation with Biology (either edition). It provides the Latin and Greek roots for a variety of scientific words.
The Apologia elementary science author now has her own web site, which offers a newsletter, entitled Jeannie's Journal, along with downloads, links, and free drawings. The site also includes free notebooking pages for the elementary Apologia texts.
Visitors can find free Apologia lesson plans, lab reports, downloads, and other helpful information on Donna Young's web site, which came highly recommended by Wile.