TOS Crew Review: Apologia Educational Ministries' "Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics"

logo_zpsd1be877b[1]Does the idea of teaching chemistry and physics in your homeschool sound…somewhat…daunting?  Are you ever concerned that you don’t have enough of a science background to adequately instruct your children?  Or…are you someone who never really enjoyed science as a child yourself?

If any of these describes you….or even if NONE of them does…Apologia Educational MinistriesExploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics  might just be perfect for you!

chemistry2_zpsf5580e2f[1]I have wanted to use Apologia’s science courses for quite a while in our homeschool….but we’ve always ended up using other science curricula prior to this year.  When our family was selected to review Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics, both Jackson (my 11-year-old) and I couldn’t have been happier!  I’ll tell you more about our experiences in a moment, but I can sum them up by saying that our expectations were not only met….they were greatly exceeded.  The excellent reputation that has preceded Apologia was proven to be completely accurate!  It probably doesn’t hurt that physics and chemistry are a personal interest of mine and of Jackson’s (we totally became enamored of the Periodic Table of Elements a couple of years ago)….but our high esteem of this science curriculum is not only based on that.  I have never seen a science curriculum that is written with so much joy and delight in each and every activity, definition and explanation that is given.

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Jackson and I received not only a copy of the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics textbook (appropriate for grades K-6), but also the accompanying Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal (for upper elementary ages).  There is also an Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics  Junior Notebooking Journal that’s designed for early elementary grades.  These notebooking journals, with activities, exercises and experiments for all elementary ages, enable the curriculum to be used for multiple children in the same family, as a friend of mine told me she’d done with other Apologia Science topics (see the Apologia website for more on those).

Apologia’s aim, as stated on their textbooks, is to stress a creationist worldview and to glorify God as the Master Designer.  It reminds me of the Bible verse found in Proverbs 25:2, which says:  “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”  Isn’t it true that science reveals secrets that the Lord has hidden for us to discover, before time began?  Perhaps that is what makes this curriculum the joyful experience that it is…we can explore creation together for the scientific secrets hidden for us to discover, by the God who loves us!

Each chapter of Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is filled chock-full of experiments, photos and clear and intelligent explanations of concepts, whether they are somewhat abstract (like atoms or the frequency of sound) or concrete (mass, density, forms of matter).  Author Jeanne Fulbright writes in an interesting yet conversational manner that is excellent for either reading aloud or silently.  She presents a new topic or definition, then almost immediately gives opportunities to put those definitions to the test in experiments and activities called “Try This.”  You could easily do several experiments  (both simple or complex) daily….but we stretched them out so that we did about one per day.  (We are loving this course so much that we don’t want it to end too quickly…so we are taking our time!)  After each day’s work or reading, there are opportunities for the student to “narrate,” or repeat back, what he has learned.  This can be done via the notebooking journals (by drawing pictures of the experiments, or writing and defining the terms and what’s been learned) or by the student’s verbal recounting of what he now understands.  Narrating is a fantastic way for students not only to show what they’ve picked up, but to help cement that information into their brains by repeating it several different ways.

Here’s a small sampling of the many fascinating subjects covered in Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics‘ chapters:

  • Matter (density, mass, buoyancy, properties)
  • Movement (gas, liquid, solid)
  • Building blocks of creation (atoms, electrons, neutrons, and our favorite, the Periodic Table)
  • Compound chemistry (crystals, plastics, acids and chemical reactions)
  • Mixtures

…and that’s only in the first 5 of 14 chapters!  Light, motion, energy, sound, mechanics, Newton’s Laws, electricity, simple machines….these and more amazing topics are covered here.

And how we loved the experiments!  In addition to the fun “Try This” activities scattered across the pages, each chapter also includes a sort of experiment “finale” at the end, including these captivating ones:

  • Creating a lava lamp
  • Making a sugar cookie Periodic Table of the Elements (yes, we’re truly salivating over that one!)
  • Growing crystals
  • Building a periscope
  • Making a solar oven
  • Building a magnetic race track

…and many others!

Why you'll float in the Dead Sea

Why you’ll float in the Dead Sea

I’ve been amazed at how well Jeanne Fulbright teaches children (AND their parents!) to understand scientific design and the building blocks of matter.  Several of her “Try This” activities in the first chapter, taught us about density, mass and volume in ways that were so clear that Jackson was able to immediately journal about it, as well as clearly explain it to his dad several hours later!

Testing the behaviors of different densities

Testing the behaviors of different densities

Testing the densities of solid objects against the densities of different liquids

Testing the densities of solid objects against the densities of different liquids

What this course does so well, is to make science clear and understandable in a fun and exciting way.  Every day Jackson looks at our schedule and when it is time for Apologia Science, he always says, “Yay!”  We read together about our subjects of the day, then gather the items necessary for the “Try This” experiments.  Jackson puts on his safety goggles, we read the directions together, then I oversee him while he does the experiment.  (He would love to keep all the experiments out after we finish….but we really don’t have the space to do so!)  When we finish and after we’ve cleaned up our work, he writes in his Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal about what he’s learned…or he draws a cartoon of it.  My son enjoys writing but hates handwriting (he’d much prefer to keyboard).  However, the Notebooking Journal makes it so fun that he never complains about having to write.  Rather, it enables him to use his creative skills while still noting the important things he is learning.

Here’s what Jackson has to say about Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics:  “I LOVE it!  I really like it.  I love all the experiments.  I’ve always loved science, but this is the best science curriculum I’ve ever done.”
And again, when in passing I told my husband that I was completely sold on Apologia Science, and that, as far as I was concerned, I’d be happy for us to do it every year from now on, Jackson overheard me and said (again), “Yay!”

The Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics textbook can be purchased for $39, and the upper elementary Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal and the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics  Junior Notebooking Journal cost $24 each.  While we received our copies free for the purposes of review, all three of these products are well worth their costs and I’d purchase them in a second if we hadn’t been selected for the review team.  Each book or journal can be purchased from the Apologia website.  The Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics textbook has a complete supply list for each chapter’s experiments listed at the back of the book.  We found it very easy to find these supplies at the dollar store and Walmart, but you could certainly also find them at thrift stores.

I truly have only one regret about Apologia; that we didn’t discover their science curricula earlier in our elementary homeschool years.  This experience has been both so fantastic yet so simple to use and understand (certainly as compared to other science curricula we’ve used), and such a joy to learn with, that I’m a bit sad that we have missed so much!  I’m only grateful that there are more Apologia courses to look forward to in middle school and high school.  That is quite a redeeming factor AND gives us a lot to look forward to!

Would you like to learn more about others’ experiences with this amazing resource?  You may click here to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Enjoy!  We did…and now it’s time for more amazing Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics experiments!

–Wren

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