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What should rhetoric stage science look like? {Season 9, Episode 115}

May 30, 2022 10 min read

What should rhetoric stage science look like? Come listen to (or watch) this episode from the Tips for Homeschool Science Show to hear the answers.

Welcome back to season 9 of the Tips for Homeschool Science podcast where we are sharing both audio and video for a short season on classical education and homeschool science.

In this episode, we'll be discussing rhetoric stage science - your goals, the tools, and how to put it all together!

Key Takeaways

  • The goals for the rhetoric stage student will be to teach them how to learn and apply the principles of science to what they see in front of them. 
  • I'm going to suggest that the level of rigor will be dependent upon what your student wants to do in the future. 
  • We can do this through textbooks with experiments, through events and science, through exams, and then we can also have them do in-depth research projects and in-depth science projects that can enhance what they are learning. 

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Episode 115 - What should rhetoric stage science look like? Transcript

00:00 - 00:30

The rhetoric stage!! It's the stage that seems to scare us all the most. But what should science look like for the classical educator during these years? That's exactly what we're going to talk about today. Hi, I'm Paige Hudson, and you're listening to the Tips for Homeschool Science Show, where we're breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.

 (Intro Music)

 The rhetoric stage. The high school years.

00:30 - 00:52

These are the years when our students are really, really starting to come into their own. I want to talk about the nuts and bolts of classical science as the rhetoric stage years. Just like the other subjects during these years, it is an intellectually demanding program, so to speak. That said, I have graduated a child, and I can tell you that this plan does work.

00:53 - 01:12

And I can also assure you that as a classical educator, you can certainly have your students do an outside class for science and then added a few things to make it a little bit more classical, so to speak. So their high school science experience will be even richer than what they would get in an online course. So don't be daunted by this!

01:12 - 01:31

You don't have to do it all by yourself! Let's talk about the different pieces. Before we go into exactly what we'll be using, let's talk about the rhetoric stage student itself. Usually these are going to be during the high school year, so 9th-, 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade. Your student may arrive here a little earlier. Your student may arrive here a little later.

01:31 - 01:52

And that's fine. Basically, this student has mastered the basic facts as well as some of the reasoning behind them. They're now prepared to move on to the more complicated details of science. On top of that, these students are far more contemplative. When they ask the question, it's obvious that they have put more thought into the inquiry.

01:52 - 02:20

They're not just going - why? Why? Why? Instead, they're thinking about what they already know and how to apply it to something that they don't know. They're still working exactly on how to know how and when to express themselves and that's what we're going to help them do during these years. I like to compare a rhetoric state student to a law student who has access to a great deal of organized, filed away information.

02:20 - 02:46

But this student is still learning advanced techniques, as well as learning how to apply which material to the given situation that they have. They have access to a lot of stuff as they've learned a lot during the grammar stage in the logic stage years, and they're still going to continue to learn new information during the rhetoric stage years. But they're also going to learn when a piece of information is important to what they're currently learning.

02:46 - 03:06

Does that make sense? So when you teach science to these students, you'll be playing to these strengths while teaching them how to filter what they know and apply it to the current situation. You can also use science to work on the basic skills of research and note-taking during this stage as well. You have two goals for rhetoric stage science.

The goals for the rhetoric stage student will be to teach them how to learn and apply the principles of science to what they see in front of them.

03:07 - 03:29

And the first is to make sure that the student knows and understands the principles and laws at work in science. And the second is to teach them how to relate what they have learned to the things they see around them. Remember, these students have a mastery of the foundational facts and the principles at work from the previous two stages.

03:29 - 03:51

Now, the time to teach them how to apply this information along with the more complicated laws and mathematics of science. In a nutshell, your goals for the rhetoric stage student will be to teach them how to learn and apply the principles of science to what they see in front of them. A good rhetoric stage science program for the classical educator will be rigorous.

03:52 - 04:12

But I'm going to suggest that the level of rigor will be dependent upon what your student wants to do in the future. So I believe that all rhetoric stage students will benefit from taking four years of science. High school science is beneficial because it trains the brains to think logically. Plus, science gives every student a healthy awareness of the world around them.

04:12 - 04:35

So I don't think that you need to skimp on science during the high school years. However, by the time they reach the rhetoric stage they're starting to get a clearer picture of where they would like to go and what they would like to do. And it's perfectly acceptable to kind of scale back science, or {rather} the expectations you have for science, to just those basic components

04:36 - 04:59

if they're not looking to go into the science fields. The classical educator is going to have three main components that they can pull from for science during the rhetoric stage years. Again, we're still going to be doing, reading, and writing for science. Those are our basic components, but we have some other things in our wheelhouse as classical educators

04:59 - 05:21

that we can add to science. So the first of those {main} components we're going to have is textbooks with experiments. {During these years} we're going to have our {reading}, our doing, really our writing all in one place. The students, especially the students that wants to go on in the sciences, should really be studying from a standard textbook - something by Campbell's, Prentice Hall, Science Matters, CK-12, or

05:21 - 05:42

one of the other textbooks that are out there for you to use. They should be studying from a standard textbook because these resources will study a complete area of science in a concise manner and will really touch on all the things that you need to touch on during the high school years. This doesn't mean that you can't get information from other sources.

05:43 - 06:03

There are living books for science out there that are interesting during the high school years. Of course, you could pull from YouTube, you could pull from other sources to learn about science. But really, that textbook is going to help you kind of cover everything you need to cover for the high school years. Basically, you want to plan to complete one textbook per year.

06:03 - 06:22

Have the students take notes as they're reading as they go, reading a couple of sections a week, and you can have them choose to write. You can choose to write a full report at the end if you want for the whole chapter, and then add an experiment. Some of those textbooks will have experiment suggestions in there for you.

06:22 - 06:46

Or you could get an online lab or some other form of experiments that you can add in. But remember, we want those experiments to coordinate with what the students are learning. So you've covered your do, read, and write in that textbook with experiments. But as a classical educator, we want to have them a little bit more. And the second thing we want to add in is events in science, because again, we want to give our students a big picture view.

06:47 - 07:15

We want them to see the context of what they're learning within the context of the history and of what's going on. What else was happening at the same time? So depending on what your students plan on doing, you can make this section super rigorous or just a timeline. Basically, if you want a more rigorous curriculum, you can have the students read some of the original works from scientists, like Aristotle, for a more relaxed approach.

07:15 - 07:39

You could learn about the different great scientists, or you can learn about current events that are currently going on. Either way, your goal here with these events in science is to learn more about the discipline of science within the context of history. Then the third tool you have is classical educator are exams. Rhetoric stage students are becoming more and more independent with their work.

07:40 - 08:02

So testing is a great tool {that} we have to affirm that they're actually learning the concepts. Plus, they'll be expected to do tests when it comes to college if they're going to go to the college level. So again, this is a really great time to familiarize them with testing and how that works and what they need with study skills and things like that.

08:02 - 08:26

Science is an area where you can have them practice those skills and increase those skills. Now, if your student is majoring in sciences or has a real interest in science, and we want to bring two more things in for them. One is the research paper, because the student {that} is planning on going into the field of sciences, definitely needs to know how to do research so they can do one or two in-depth research papers.

08:26 - 08:47

This can be whatever they want to learn about within the field of science that they are studying or if there's another topic they would like to study. Again, this research paper could be part of their history program or part of their science program, but basically you want them to come up with a thesis statement and form and defend an opinion about the material.

08:48 - 09:08

Again, it's going to be a process. So by the time you get to 12th grade, it's going to be much better than the one that they'll produce in 9th grade. And then the final thing that you'll have is an in-depth project. This is a little bit more complex than your science fair project will look a lot similar, but it'll have a couple of different variables that'll take a longer period of time.

09:09 - 09:41

Imagine a science fair project on steroids. So your student who's interested in the sciences, this is a great opportunity for them to explore a question that they have about an area of science. So how will this look when it's all pulled together? Well, what we could do is we could have a student read a chapter about plant and animal cells, then have them look at different cell, these different {types of} cells under a microscope have them write a brief report about what they've learned or about what they saw.

09:41 - 10:01

Then have them study Robert Hooke and his ideas about cell theory. Then you can give them a test on what they've learned about cells and the different theories that have gone through the ages. And then throughout the semester, you can also have them either work on a research project or they can work on an in-depth science fair style project within the field of biology.

10:01 - 10:23

So again, when you tie these areas of study together, they reinforce one another and create a stronger awareness of how the fields of science affect the student's life every day. So during the rhetoric stage, our goals are to make sure the student knows and understands the principles and laws at work in science, and to teach them how to relate what they've learned to the things they see around them.

10:23 - 10:51

And we can do this through textbooks with experiments, through events and science, through exams, and then we can also have them do in-depth research projects and in-depth science projects that can enhance what they are learning. I hope this gave you a good overview of what classical science could look like for your high school students. It does seem a bit rigorous and daunting, but trust me, you lead up to this process so it doesn't begin with this level of hard work.

10:51 - 11:09

They're getting to that process. They're working towards these things. The idea is to have a little bit more each year and then you'll get there. Thanks for listening and I hope you have a great week playing with science!

 (Exit Music)

 Have you struggled with finding a science curriculum that fits the classical education model you want to use in your homeschool?

11:10 - 11:35

Rest easy! At Elemental Science, we have easy-to-use, award-winning science plans to help you teach classical science to your students Each of our classical science programs will focus on an area of science all year long, giving you plans for weekly demonstrations or experiments for reading assignments from visually appealing children's encyclopedias from publishers like DK, Usborne, and Kingfisher.

11:35 - 11:58

Plus, you'll have customized student pages specifically for what you are studying that week. The programs in our classical science series are part of Well-trained Mind’s Top Recommendations, are part of Cathy Duffy's Top Picks, and every year homeschoolers say they love our programs! Come see how we can help you teach classical science in your homeschool at

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