As I write this, we have just completed my son Jackson’s junior year. This year, we were privileged to partner with Bridgeway Academy, and Jackson was able to take his high school chemistry class online with them. This class was part of Bridgeway Academy’s Live Online Classes. It was effective and interesting, and I’d like to share more with you about our year and experiences!
About Chemistry with Lab
Bridgeway Academy‘s high school chemistry course is a full-year, Live Online Class. Chemistry with Lab (LLAY90799CH; follow link and scroll down the page for more info on the class) meets weekly from September through May. The course uses Paradigm’s Chemistry with Lab textbooks along with Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit. Students will need a computer to log into the online classroom, where the teacher and students meet and interact together. The class meets once each week, for an hour and a half. Upon completion of the course, students earn 1.5 high school science credits.
The Paradigm textbook set includes softcover text and activity books (IPC Chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 11). This chemistry program focuses on the history and discoveries of chemistry, the people who made them, and the places they were made. The texts teach and introduce material about the elements and scientists. The activity books contain quizzes and questions on each text chapter’s material.
Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit includes a lab manual and a materials kit for all the experiments students will complete in the course. The kit has everything except a few household items (like distilled water, paper towels, etc.) that will be used. For example, in the lab kit you’ll see: beakers of various sizes; an electrolysis device; pipettes; reaction plates (the clear plastic rectangles with wells in the photos); safety goggles; wire gauze; various metals (copper, iron, nickel, zinc); and other materials you won’t find at home. It also includes solutions, like glycerin, HCl, sodium oxalate, zinc nitrate, and many others. The lab manual has directions for many experiments, fill-in-the-blanks for answers, and mathematical chemical equations and problems to work.
What did each week’s class look like?
Each week, Melissa Lindahl, Jackson’s chemistry teacher, Jackson, and his fellow classmates would log in together for class time. Ms. Lindahl would teach the week’s lesson and interact with students. She taught students the chemical (math) equations for the elements and their combinations. She also reviewed the experiments, the materials, safety guidelines, and their purpose. Bridgeway Academy utilizes a site called Moodle which hosts classes. Its technology works extremely well, and provides video of the teacher while enabling students to connect in class via text and/or voice. At the end of class, Ms. Lindahl would assign the week’s reading and activity book work. Each week following class, students would work in the books (activity and text/reading), complete experiments, and then upload their work via Moodle to Ms. Lindahl. The Moodle site and student dashboard also provided exams for each chapter. Students would take the exam online, and results were recorded there.
All students in the class completed a class project on a class of elements in December. The Moodle classroom enabled them to present their projects to the teacher and their classmates (with Powerpoint visuals or recorded video) at that time.
The Moodle classroom is set up so that the teacher can use the webcam for teaching, to show students the experiments they’ll be doing, or to display video or Powerpoint slides. It can also provide a whiteboard, which Ms. Lindahl used to teach students how to solve the chemistry math equations.
Here are some examples of the year’s work
Here’s just a sampling of some of the subjects that were covered in Jackson’s chemistry this year:
- Barium, radium, strontium, and hard water
- Mendeleev, the periodic table, and his predictions of missing elements
- Valences, covalent compounds, and chemical bonding
- Medieval metals, created diamonds, nitrogen’s many uses
- Chemical bonds
- Acids, bases, pH
- Electrical current
- Elements and the scientists who discovered them
- and more!
In addition, students put what they learned into practice by completing experiments at home using the materials from the chemistry lab kit and noting their results in their lab manuals. There were 17 experiments in all; they were safe to do at home (although some materials required special care and handling, and always required the use of safety goggles).
During the experiments, Jackson learned about:
- Paper chromatography
- The electrical conductivity of various solutions
- Mole ratios
- Reaction rates
Following each experiment, he filled out its lab manual pages, then scanned them and sent the pages to the Moodle classroom for Ms. Lindahl to grade and record.
Our impressions of Chemistry with Lab
We’re really happy that Jackson was able to take his chemistry class via Bridgeway Academy. Personally, my only experience with chemistry was an introductory course my son took years ago in elementary school. (Awesome, but the key word there is “elementary”!) So I had serious doubts about being able to teach chemistry to Jackson, and to teach it well; basically, I’d have to learn a complete new scientific language and study hard myself for a long while before I’d really be able to teach him. (And to be honest, even if I had done those things I don’t think I would have been a good instructor for this course.)
Instead, we had Melissa Lindahl, an experienced and certified science teacher, for whom the language of chemistry seemed to be second nature. She effectively taught difficult new concepts each week, and prepared students for the math concepts that they’d be using in the experiments as well as instructing them about the materials (especially the solutions and solids they’d be using) and the proper way to handle each one.
Here’s what Jackson says about the class: “Ms. Lindahl was a good teacher and the class had interesting subject matter. I appreciated having a dedicated class time each week and a teacher who covered the material in a good amount of time. Those were definite high points. I did feel as though sometimes the Paradigm curriculum lacked some chemistry information that is often taught in high school chemistry classes. It focuses more on the history of chemistry, I think, than the whats and hows of the science taught in other courses.”
Jackson would probably have benefited from more time practicing the math equations required for the course. Ms. Lindahl explained them well during the online classes (and was also available via email outside of class) but the text itself didn’t spend extensive time on them. However, the history and the information on the elements made the course very interesting.
Are your homeschooled students at the point that they need their high school science credits, such as biology, chemistry, or physics? Are those subjects that you personally need more help in teaching?
If so, I’d definitely recommend Bridgeway Academy to you. Their certified teachers, online classrooms, and curricula can make all the difference in the world for your homeschool! Plus, your students will earn credits toward their high school transcripts.
Here’s how you can find out more about Bridgeway Academy
Just follow the links to the Bridgeway Academy home page, or to the Live Online Classes page. Bridgeway Academy has so many amazing classes for all of your students, from elementary age, to middle schoolers, to high school teens. Check them out. We’ve had wonderful experiences with them throughout the years!
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