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The High School Years Roadmap for Science – Part 3: Methods {Season 4, Episode 72}

May 27, 2019 6 min read

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­At this point in our journey down the roadmap for science, we know our goals for high school science and the tools we can use, but what does it actually look like? In today's episode, we are going to look at two different scenarios.

Welcome to the Tips for Homeschool Science Show where we are breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool. 

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The High School Years - Part 3: Methods Transcripts

In today’s episode, I want to share with you several different ways you can use tools we talked about in the last episode to use to accomplish the goals of high school science. I hope that these glimpses will help you to get a picture of how you could do science during the high school years.

During the high school years, the method you choose to teach science will depend upon your students’ interests and their plans for the future. No one way is better than the other; it is dependent on which method will prepare your students to launch into the future they are dreaming about.

I am going to describe two different scenarios for high school science at home – a Science-oriented path for the student with a STEM career on the horizon and a Knowledge-building path for the student who just needs to understand the basics of higher-level science. There are certainly lots of other ways you can approach science – online courses, local classes, apprenticeships, and more – but my goal was to give you two pictures of what it would look like to construct your own high school science courses.  

If your student is undecided on what their future will be, I recommend that you follow the Science Oriented path. With that said, let’s dig in…

Scenario #1 – The Knowledge-building Path

The Knowledge-building Path for high school leads the student to construct a healthy understanding of science. This method uses textbooks to teach them about the principles and laws at work in science. It uses experiments to show them how science works and exams to test their knowledge. This path can also include events in science to teach them how science relates to their everyday life.

Here is what a week on the Knowledge-building Path for high school science would look like:

Your science time begins with having the students read Chapter 2 on “Kinematics” in Physics Matters by Marshall Cavendish. In this selection, they will be reading about to speed, velocity, and acceleration as well as the speed/time graph and the acceleration of a free fall. As they read, have the students take notes.

Once they complete their reading, have the students do a related experiment. This text has experiments in a companion book so you could have them do experiment number five from the Practical Book and answer the questions associated with the lab in the book. If the text you choose does not have experiments, find a kit or use an online lab software and then do an experiment that relates to what the student is studying that week.

Over the week, have the students complete the chapter worksheets in the text and go over the answers with you. There are three worksheets for this chapter, so you could assign two for practice and one as a test or create a test of your own for the student to complete.

If your students are interested in learning more, have them research the Internet for information on Isaac. Have them read and take notes on what they have found. Then, have the student write a short report on his contributions to science.

When you walk down this path for high school science, the student is using the three keys – doing science with experiments, gathering information from the textbook, and keeping a record with their notes. They are building their knowledge banks with a basic understanding of science that will serve them no matter what they choose to do in the future. This scenario would have the students working on science for about forty-five minutes to an hour a day.

Scenario #2 – The Science-oriented Path

The Science-oriented Path for high school science leads the students to build an understanding of science while feeding their passion for the subject. This method still uses textbooks with experiments to teach them about the principles and laws at work in science, events in science to teach them how science relates to the work around them, and exams to test what they have learned. However, at some point during the year, the student following this path will also add in an in-depth science project and a research paper to fill their desire to learn about the subject.

Here is what a week on the Science-oriented Path for high school science would look like:

Just like in the previous scenario, you would begin your week with the student reading a chapter – for this sample week, it could be Chapter 16 in Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections. There is a lot of information in the chapter so you may want to have them skip certain sections. You will need to give a lecture (or find a video) to covers the key ideas on prokaryotes and protists that you want the student to know. The students should take notes from their reading and from the lecture or video.

Once they are done, have the students look at microscope slides of a bacteria, algae, and an amoeba. The students should draw what they observe in the microscope and add a brief explanation of the microscopic subjects in their lab notebook.

Later in the week, have the students research how algae can produce biodiesel fuel. They can use the internet or the library to find periodicals that contain recent articles on the subject. Then, have the student write a one- to two-page report about their findings.

The students should also spend some time during the week working on their in-depth science project or on their research paper. They should choose one or the other to complete per semester and each of these projects should relate to what they are studying for the year.

At the end of the week, you can have the students complete the chapter review as a test or write your own exam for them. 

When you walk down this path for high school science, the student is still using the three keys – doing science with experiments, gathering information from the textbook, and keeping a record with their notes. But they are also feeding their passion for STEM-related topics by digging deeper into the subject with projects and reports. This scenario would have the students working on science for an hour or more a day.

In a Nutshell

The high school years are the culmination of the student’s foundational years of their academic journey with you. It's when you start to really see the fruits of those labors of love! You are teaching the student to apply the principles of science and to be able to analyze the data they are receiving. If you keep the goals suggested in episode 70 in mind and base your plan on the tools laid out in episode 71, you will prepare your student for what is ahead.

Well, that’s a wrap on our journey through a roadmap for teaching science. But we do still have one more bonus episode to share with you all for this season! I’ll be interviewing our daughter, who is graduating just a few days after this episode is released. She’s been homeschooled from the very beginning and has plans to go onto college to study to be an engineer. So, I thought it would be interesting for you all to hear from her as she prepares to leave the nest.

I have really enjoyed sharing this season with you and have loved hearing how it has encouraged you all! If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to head on over to elementalscience.com and hit the email icon in the top left to send me an email.

We are already working hard on something special for season 5 but until then, we will keep sharing our monthly tips on the first Monday of the month. I hope you have a fantastic summer, playing with science!

See how we can help you teach science to your high school student!


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