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."
Exploring Creation with Physics
is a college-preparatory course, but is also designed to be the student's third year high school science class, according to Wile's course sequencing table, which is located on the Apologia web site at www.highschoolscience.com/course/corseq.html
. Biology and Chemistry should be taken first, according to this table.
The Physics course should be taken after the student takes Algebra 2, and at least beginning Trigonometry, and possibly while the student is taking Precalculus. The student should be familiar with the definitions of sine, cosine, and tangent.
Wile suggests that science-minded students supplement the studies with the following books:
Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, Michael Denton, Adler & Adler, Paperback ISBN 091756152X Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe, Touchstone Books, Hardcover ISBN 0684827549, Paperback ISBN 0684834936
Students who complete this course with a basic understanding of its contents should be well-prepared for a tough university physics course, according to Wile. An advanced placement course, entitled Exploring Creation with Advanced Physics
, is also available as an elective for upper-level high school students.
How the Book is Designed
Those who have never used Apologia may need a short primer on the design of Apologia texts. The 602-page hardcover physics 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.
As always, Wile points the young scientist back to God. Upon initially skimming this book, one figure stood out to me above all others. In the first module, Wile included a figure of Thomas Aquinas, and includes one of his arguments for the existence of God, which discusses motion (from Summa Theologica, Second and Revised Edition, 1920, located at www.newadvent.org/summa/100203.htm
"Whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God."
Wile begins the physics text by explaining that physics is known as the fundamental science. "Why is it called that?" he asks. "Well, as Ernest Rutherford ... once said, 'All science is either physics or stamp collecting.' What he meant was ... in principle, all fields of science can be reduced to physics. Since physics attempts to understand in detail how everything in the universe interacts with everything else, any phenomenon in nature is controlled by the laws of physics."
Stamp collecting aside, the text emphasizes the vocabulary of physics and provides the student with a strong background in the scientific method and, time and money permitting, a variety of physics labs.
This physics course introduces the methods and concepts of general physics, with a heavy emphasis on vector analysis. It provides the student with a strong background in one-dimensional and two-dimensional motion, Newton's laws and their application, gravity, work and energy, momentum, periodic motion, waves, optics, electrostatics, electrodynamics, electrical circuits, and magnetism.
I do have to admit that this book went beyond my own understanding of science in several places, so I asked my husband to take a peek. Guy is a former nuclear submariner who attended Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida. He taught physics classes to homeschoolers in the past, using a variety of materials, and prefers more hands-on and direct texts, rather than pedantic textbooks.
He told me that he would have used this book if he had known about it. He particularly enjoyed the discussion on parabolic motion, especially the range equation, which shows a ship launching a projectile (an activity with which he is VERY familiar). He said this book, along with the more advanced physics book, covers everything that a science student interested in physics would want to know, and probably covers everything that would be included in an introductory college physics class.
He preferred the more conversant style of writing over the other physics textbooks he has used. He did feel that at this level, a student would want to gain some understanding in a classroom or lab setting, rather than depend on learning alone. He suggested, therefore, that students who study physics might want to gather together with parents, in a cooperative setting, in order to conduct demonstrations of some of the more detailed lab experiments.
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, including Lynn Ericson, 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, which 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 302-page, softcover Solutions and Tests guide, which comes in the Apologia package.
The book also has a glossary and index, along with three appendices, which contain formulae and laws, extra practice problems, and a complete list of lab supplies. Answers to the extra practice problems are also found in the Solution and Tests Guide. The physics book contains a table of Physical Constants on the inside cover, along with solar system data and a reference for the Greek alphabet on the frontispiece.
The guide also contains sample calculations for selected experiments, module tests, and cumulative tests, for parents who want to give students a quarterly, semester, or final exam. A second set of tests is included in the guide as a perforated booklet, allowing the parent to give the students tests without giving them a copy of the solutions and test manual containing the answers.
For those with more than one student, Wile provides student packets separate from the text on his web site, but also gives copy permission for parents to copy the tests for student use, for those with a strict budget. Wile strongly recommends (in bold text) that parents test their students after completing each module.
The Physics Solutions and Tests Guide contains teacher's notes, which explain a point system for grading the tests and the course for a yearly grade. Wile recommends that parents include only tests grades and laboratory notebook grades, but not On Your Own or Study Guide questions.
Comparing to First Edition
The second edition of the physics book has several differences from the first, for those who are interested in comparisons. There is obviously more color in this edition, which may help students who are more visually-inspired. Drawings from the first edition have been replaced by photographs or other drawings that are of better quality.
Wile reorganized several sections of the book, based on many student questions over the past several years, so this book is now more understandable, with clearer explanations and/or more details. In addition, more practice problems were added for each module, as well as detailed solutions to those problems in the solutions and tests guide. Wile also noted that there are 50% more experiments as compared to the first edition of the course.
In addition, Wile made the book easier to use in a home setting, adding prompts for electronic media, and making the On Your Own and Experiment sections easier to find and read when your hands are full of experimentation equipment.
When Dr. Wile wrote the first edition of the physics course, which was his second book to publish in 1996, he did not make the assumption that students had already taken his chemistry course, which he published in 1995. Consequently, he initially included a discussion of measurements and units as the first module of the physics course, even though it was also the first module of the chemistry course. After seven years of experience, however, Wile discovered that most students had already taken chemistry.
As a result, Dr. Wile removed the measurements module from the physics course, and replaced it with a four-page summary of what the student needs to know about measurements and units. If the student has not had chemistry or needs to review those concepts, the first module of the chemistry course is now available on the Apologia web site as the Chemistry sample module. Because the measurement module was removed, there is room for more physics topics, such as a detailed discussion on the physical nature of light as well as additional topics on optics.
For those who are more electronically inclined, the book mentions a login/password to get even more "book extras," which takes students to a web site full of links for each lesson. This perk is worth weeks of research for a homeschooling parent. Advanced students who have the time and the ability for additional learning should be able to use these online resources to give them access to advanced subject matter. Moreover, the student text has graphic icons that tell the student when there is a related multimedia presentation on the optional multimedia CD.
The On Your Own sections, which are now easier to find and to distinguish from the experiments, are lightly highlighted in yellow. Examples are highlighted in purple, and experiments in green. Equations, whether in the Solutions and Tests guide or in the book, are explained in painstaking detail, written in a conversational yet very informal manner.
Please note that because of the differences between the first and second editions, students in a group setting cannot use both. Wile still makes the first edition available for homeschoolers in support groups that use the first edition.
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."
Apologia does not sell any lab kits for the physics courses. However, after doing a little web surfing, I found that Home Training Tools does sell a physics lab kit at www.hometrainingtools.com. Their kits were unavailable for review, however.
He 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."
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.