Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apologia: General Science and Biology

If you're a Christian homeschooler, chances are you've heard of Apologia. One of the most popular science publishers, Apologia delivers a scientifically sound program from a Creationist perspective.

The word apologia appears in the New Testament and refers to people defending their faith using reason and logic. According to their website, "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." They take this seriously and provide a highly academic textbook methodology in their science curricula, starting with General Science and going all the way through the Advanced Sciences and Marine Biology. Most are authored by Dr. Jay Wile, who has a PHD in nuclear chemistry. See Meet the Apologia Family for more insight into the who and why's of this publisher.

I received General Science and Biology for review. Exploring Creation with General Science is the first book in the series and is suggested for 7th grade. It covers the history of science, what science is and how it works, the history of life, foundations of geology, and how the body works. It consists of sixteen modules, with a test and solution packet available.

The text is written to the student and contains experiments and illustrations throughout. Experiments include growing crystals, building a DNA model, and making a model of kidney function. Illustrations and videos are also provided on an optional companion CD, with graphics in the text indicating a corresponding video. There is also a special website for users of the course, with interesting links related to the study and FAQ's. The password is included in the text.

On Your Own questions in little yellow boxes are scattered throughout the modules. These encourage your student to dig deeper into the topic, with questions such as "Based on the Principle of Superposition", list the artifacts pointed out in Figure 5.10 in terms of increasing age. In other words, list the youngest artifact first and the oldest one last. What is the underlying assumption of the Principle of Superposition?" or "If antibodies are ineffective against a pathogen, what other defenses can the lymph nodes use against it?"

This is a full science course. Science oriented kids who are comfortable with the textbook method would probably do well with it in 7th grade. Non-science oriented kids would probably enjoy it more at an older age, in my opinion.

Exploring Creation with Biology is similar in set up to the General Science book. It is designed to be used in the 9th grade, although we are currently using this program for my 10th grade daughter. Most of her peers are studying Biology as sophomores in traditional school settings and this has worked well for us.

Biology also contains 16 modules, with each module taking about two weeks to finish. There is a test and solution packet available, as well as a companion multimedia CD. A special website for this course is also available, with the password to be found in the text. This is a lab science course and there are three lab types; microscopic labs, dissection labs, and household labs. The household labs are a required part of the course, while the dissection and microscope labs are optional due to cost. A vendor, Nature's Workshop Plus, is recommended if you'd like to purchase microscope and/or dissection kits.

On Your Own questions are also found in the Biology texts. Examples include, "Since dehydration reactions link amino acids in order to form proteins, you can probably guess that hydrolysis reactions break them down. Why don't proteins quickly break down into their amino acids when they are mixed with water?" and "If an amniotic egg develops without an allantois, will the embryo live? Why or why not?"

I am not a textbook lover, yet we have used and enjoyed the Elementary Science books and the Biology. They are traditional, yet not dry and dull (which is what I usually expect from textbooks!). There's a reason they are so popular among Christian homeschoolers- they fulfill their purpose.

Exploring Creation Through General Science and Exploring Creation Through Biology are available for $85 for the text and test/solutions packet. The multimedia companion CD is $15. You can also purchase the book and test packet separately, or the full course on CD. Check out the web site for details.

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