Monday, June 26, 2017

Physics: Modeling Nature {Homeschool Crew Review}

Novare Science & Math

I am often amazed at the plethora of homeschool curriculum options in some areas, but at the same time, I'm also surprised at how difficult it can be to find the right option in other areas. When Addison was in high school, we searched high and low for a physics class that met her high standards. She dismissed one curriculum because of math inaccuracies, one because it unnecessarily "dumbed down" the science concepts, and another because it didn't have enough math. (She called the latter one "math for music majors.") She wanted a solid advanced physics course that would prepare her for college engineering classes. She also hoped for calculus-based physics instructions, as opposed to the more popular algebra-based methods. I tried to explain that the majority of homeschool high schoolers are not ready to use calculus in a science class, but she counter-argued that there still should be that option available for the few students who wanted to go the more difficult route.

As I started once again researching high school physics options, I was pleased to find Novare Science & Math. They advertise their materials as being "both true to the historic Christian faith and academically robust." Brennan and I have been examining the Physics: Modeling Nature textbook and a digital version of its corresponding Resource CD so that we could determine if it would meet his need for an Advanced Physics course next year.

Novare believes in a physics-first approach to high school science classes. Their Introductory Physics materials are intended to be used by 9th graders (and up through 11th graders). It emphasizes math concepts but can be completed by a student that is currently taking Algebra I. An advanced introductory option is to use Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry, which is designed for 9th graders who completed Algebra I in middle school.

Physics: Modeling Nature is designed for upper level high school students (probably seniors) who are on a college preparatory path and who have already completed trigonometry. The preface to the book clearly outlines the specific knowledge and skills that a student should be familiar with prior to starting this course. I should note, however, that the topics are fully explained in this text and that a student will have all the information they need, even if they've not fully mastered the topic in an earlier class (or have forgotten it). Brennan has not taken a formal physics class, but he has studied a lot of physics topics during his Science Olympiad preparations the past two years. Since he completed Pre-Calculus last year, Physics: Modeling Nature looks to be at the perfect level for his junior year.

As expected, Physics: Modeling Nature is a serious textbook -- "academically robust" is indeed a good description. The first chapter jumps in with a quick review of matter, mass, the SI unit system, significant digits, and more. It then moves into a detailed explanation of vectors and how to work with them in a mathematical sense (vector addition using trigonometry and vector multiplication). Brennan read through the textbook materials on his own, but then asked my husband (who has an engineering degree) to clarify a few things. The text gives an example using work and explains that common simple definitions of work, such as those used in an introductory physics class, do not account for a force applied in a direction different to the direction  of the movement. 

In chapter 2, I see the first "Connections to Calculus" section. Physics: Modeling Nature never requires a student to know Calculus, but it includes separated sections that explain connections between physics concepts and calculus-based math. Based on Brennan's Calculus schedule, he will not have enough calculus knowledge by the time he is in chapter 2 of this physics book to understand the explanation. He could, however, go back to this section to see a real-life application when he gets to this concept in his Calculus class. I showed one of these sections to Addison, and she thought it was great. In fact, this format was probably what she was looking for when she was searching for an acceptable Physics course for her senior year of high school (when she had already finished Calculus I).

I am very impressed with the quality of solid math and science instruction packed into Physics: Modeling Nature. I am also impressed with Novare's emphasis on mastery learning. The practice problem exercises in each chapter always include at least a handful of general review exercises so that the student isn't as prone to forget the concepts learned earlier in the course. On the other hand, Brennan is still a bit intimidated by this textbook. It's a smaller book than several of his other textbooks -- roughly 7" by 10" instead of 9" by 11." While the smaller size means that it's easier to carry the book around, it also means that the type and diagrams are smaller. He says that everything feels a bit harder because there's less white space on the pages.

In addition to the textbook, Novare offers a Resource CD to help a parent or teacher teach the course. There is a schedule which breaks down the material into daily assignments, quizzes (with answer keys), exams (again with answer keys), and recommendations for teaching. The answers to all of the textbook exercises are included in the back of the book, but full written explanations of those problems are only available in the Solutions Manual (sold separately).

Physics: Modeling Nature is a high-quality advanced Physics course designed for students wanting to pursue a math or science intensive field of study in college. I wish Addison could've found this option when she was looking at homeschool science curriculum a few years ago.

Novare Science & Math offers several other science courses, including Earth Science, Physical Science, Chemistry, and Physics. Homeschool Review Crew members have been using various products for the past few weeks and are sharing their thoughts on the crew blog; be sure to check them out if you are looking for a great science program for your older students.

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Adventures of Rush Revere {Homeschool Crew Review}

Adventures of Rush Revere

Now that Lauren has taken off with her reading skills, she's less daunted when she sees a longer book. She excitedly jumped into the package of books in the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. We received all five books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series -- Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner, and Rush Revere and the Presidency.

The Adventures of Rush Revere books are intended for upper elementary students, roughly eight to twelve years old. These are more difficult than the books Lauren normally reads on her own so I was unsure how it would work if I just handed them to her. It turned out that it worked great. Lauren loves these books -- the adventurous story lines, the funny jokes from Rush Revere's horse, the illustrations, and "pretty much everything."

Instead of starting out with my thoughts about the books themselves, I figure that it's more important to give Lauren's perspective. She read through two of the five books and wrote this short book report:
Rush Revere is a time-traveling middle school teacher who travels with his magical horse Liberty. He time-travels to different time periods of history. He also travels with some of his students. My favorite part is in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, when Rush Revere says, "You guys are acting like five year olds," and Liberty responds, "Actually, I am five." I definitely recommend these books to kids, especially those who don't like history.

Detailed summaries of each of the books and lots of additional information can be found on the Adventures of Rush Revere Homeschool Depot website. (Hint: there are chapter-by-chapter summaries in the Study Guide for each book.) Instead of rehashing the book summaries, I'll share some of the things that stood out to me in each book in an attempt to help you determine if these books would be a good fit for you family.

Adventures of Rush Revere

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: While Lauren was reading this book, she piped up from the backseat and said, "I just made an inference that the author of this book is a Christian." She then explained that there were several times that the characters talked about God and how God had helped them survive their first years in America. In context, however, it does not seem like Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh are making any religious commentary on the events -- they are simply sharing what the thoughts that are commonly attributed to the Pilgrim leaders.

I found it interesting that this book emphasized the way that the Pilgrims originally formed a commonwealth in America and later gave up that idea. The book did not draw any parallels to any modern societies, but it could lead into discussions of the differences between the Pilgrim colony's attempt at a commonwealth system and our current society's views on socialistic programs.

Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Rush Revere travels back in time with Cam and Tommy to meet Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry wrongly assumes that Cam was a slave and a discussion of freedom for all men ensues. (I did some additional research that supports the fact that Patrick Henry both owned slaves and held abolitionist views as early as the 1770s.)

Rush Revere and the American Revolution: Cam's visits with Rush Revere to military men in the Revolutionary War help him deal with his father's miliary deployments. This book also deals with ways to stick up to a bully. (As a miliary spouse, I found the specifics of the bullying incidents to be quite unrealistic, but it wouldn't register to most non-military kids.)

Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner: This was perhaps my favorite book because it combined a modern-day trip to Washington, DC, with Rush Revere's typical time-travel adventures. There is a huge emphasis on patriotism and gratitude to the veterans who have fought for our country. As a side note, the time-traveling crew meets a homeschooled girl who joins them for a few of their stops in Washington, DC.

Rush Revere and the Presidency: Cam decides to run for Student Body President, and Rush Revere takes him to meet the first three presidents of our country. The emphasis is on becoming President to serve the country as opposed to simply wanting to be famous. The election process is simplified, and the book barely mentions the electoral college (only referred to in the caption of one illustration).

Books and eBooks in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series are available to purchase at most major book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Random Five on Friday

Our "normal" schedules have been thrown out the window and summer is in full swing around here. Last week, Brennan was at a baseball camp in Arkansas and this week he's at a church camp in Texas. Lauren safely made it through her entire week at camp without any big medical issues, and she's still going strong. We're pretty sure Addison is doing well, but at the moment, I can't narrow down her location much more than "in Europe."

And so, without any further ado, I'll share some snapshots of summer life from the past week.

1. Brennan's final baseball game at baseball camp at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas

2. While everyone was away, Tim and I found time to play Commissioned. We've lost track of the number of times we've played it, but we finally won a game!

3. When we picked Lauren up at camp on Monday, she excitedly shared some of her camp pictures and stories. Her favorite part was the rock climbing wall and ropes course, which included some opportunities to zip line.

4. Since Lauren is one of this year's patient ambassadors for Children's Hospital, we got to attend a fun kick-off media event publicizing next weekend's Climb for Courage event at the Air Force Academy. She's pictured with the mayor of Colorado Springs and one of the other ambassadors. (More information to come.)

5. This morning, we had a bit of time at home (finally) and finished up the work Lauren needed to do for her American Heritage Girl sewing badge. She has big plans for earning badges this summer -- three completed so far, umpteen left to go.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Internship for High School Credit {Homeschool Crew Review}

Apologia Educational Ministries

When Addison was in high school, she worked as an assistant in an optometry clinic near our house and then later at a local pizza place. She gained valuable work (and life) experiences in both of the jobs. At the time, however, I didn't consider awarding her any school credit for the time she put into either of those jobs.

Apologia Educational Ministries (one of our favorites homeschool curriculum companies) has a new book that shows parents and high schoolers how they can gain work experience at the same time they are earning high school credits. Internship for High School Credit by Sherri Seligson offers "practical help to explore and direct your career plans." She outlines the benefits of working in an internship position while in high school and shows families how to document that experience for credit on a high school transcript.

Internship for High School Credit

An internship allows students to get practical career preparation before they have invested years (and perhaps thousands of dollars) in studying a particular field. An extended look at a career through an internship could help determine if a career path is in line with the student's strengths, interests, and personality. In some cases, this on-the-job experience might allow a student to discover if they really enjoy a field that once looked so interesting and promising. (At one point Addison talked about working in a medical field. I'm not sure if her experience in the optometry clinic changed her mind or if she would've ended up in an engineering field without that experience.)

Internship for High School Credit walks students and parents step-by-step through the process of finding an internship opportunity, applying for the position, and then documenting all the experience gained during the internship.

"Part 1: Getting Started" is addressed directly to the student. It starts by offering a plethora of ideas to help the student start thinking about internship opportunities that could fit with possible career paths. For instance, a student interested in becoming a veterinarian could also consider an internship at a zoo, a local farm, a dog breeder, animal shelter, etc. Once the student identifies some internship possibilities, the workbook offers practical advice on resume writing and interview skills.

Working in an internship position as a high schooler does not necessarily guarantee that your student will gain useful knowledge and skills that will translate into course credit on a high school transcript. The majority of the Internship for High School Credit workbook contains targeted assignments that guide your student both as they complete the internship and as they document their learning for high school credit. For a single semester internship, the workbook gives questions and activities on a week-by-week basis. For instance, one week asks the student to prepare a few questions to ask his supervisor so that he can better understand how his internship position fits into the larger picture of what the company does. Another week asks the student to talk to a variety of people in his company and find out their educational backgrounds. If the student continues in the internship for a second semester, the workbook gives biweekly written assignments, with the expectation that the student will write a one-to-two-page paper about the internship every other week.

This internship workbook concludes by giving assignment to wrap up the internship professionally by  having the student write a thank you note, request a letter of recommendation, and update his resume.

Internship for High School Credit would be a valuable resource for any high school student. It's ideal for a student that is actively seeking job-related experience in a field that they may pursue as an eventual career choice, but it would also help a student who is just interested in exploring some career options. Even though we do not plan to have Brennan look for an internship in his junior year, I'm going to hang on to this workbook. The resume writing and interview tips are valuable for any student, and he might consider an internship later on.

The Internship for High School Credit workbook is a softcover, spiral bound text with 99 pages. It is available from Apologia for $33.

Other Homeschool Review Crew members have been using How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD and Coursebook) from Apologia. You can find reviews of that product and more reviews of Internship for High School Credit on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Answered Prayers

I could've posted this picture late Wednesday night, labeled it Wordless Wednesday and moved on. But it seemed like such a shame not to tell the story behind the picture, so I saved it until I had time to type it all out.

This is a picture I took of Lauren (and Berry the stuffed bear) as we were dropping her off for camp Wednesday afternoon. She was so excited to be there.

It was, however, a stressful few days leading up to camp. Sunday was the final chorale performance for this season -- their big production at a theater in town. With that performance comes lots of extra rehearsals and several late nights. Lauren's body doesn't generally do well with that sort of stress. 

On Saturday night, I took Lauren to Urgent Care because her eyes were bright red and swollen. We came home with ointment and eye drops.

On Sunday morning, Lauren looked worn out and pretty sick (swollen eyes making it all worse). She insisted that she was fine and could go to the chorale dress rehearsal and performance. Tim and I were afraid that she'd get sick before the show even started. Even worse, we knew if she got sick on Sunday that there was a good chance she wouldn't make it to camp this week.

Tim shared with the Praise Team at church how worried he was that Lauren wouldn't make it to camp, and I shared with some of my online friends. There were lots of people praying that Lauren would be healthy enough to go to the camp she's been looking forward to for so long.

We held our breath during the whole chorale performance on Sunday afternoon. Every time her group came out on stage we frantically scanned through the singers to make sure she was still feeling well enough to sing. Afterwards she was tired but actually looked better than we feared.

On Sunday evening and through the day Monday, I started worrying that she was getting dehydrated. Late Monday night, I took her to the ER to make sure she was okay and she got extra IV fluids to help her out. On Tuesday, I spent much of the day tracking down her GI doctors and making sure that she'd be medically cleared for camp. (Since this camp serves kids with medical needs, we needed to make sure she wasn't going to expose anyone to something contagious.) We kept praying that somehow or other she'd be okay for camp.

And that's how we ended up at camp Wednesday afternoon with one very excited little girl. She was looking forward to a week of archery, fishing, horesback riding, campfires, and so much. 

Most importantly, she was looking forward to just being a regular kid this week. The medical staff at camp is amazing, and nobody minds that she has a complicated medical history, that she brought four bags of medicine, that she has a long list of food allergies, or anything else. Their primary goal for this week is to make sure she gets to enjoy doing all the fun stuff any regular kid would do!

I can't wait until she gets back next week to hear how much fun she had.

©2009-2017 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

MarshMedia {Homeschool Crew Review}

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

Lauren generally isn't interested in watching educational videos, so I rarely look at video instruction options for her primary curriculum. Recently, we were introduced to a company with videos that I can add in to her regular school day, either as a supplement to a regular subject or just added on to fill in gaps somewhere. MarshMedia offers a wide-range of videos covering such topics as health, safety, nutrition, puberty education, and more.

MarshMedia has a new Homeschool Special designed to introduce their videos to homeschool families. This offer gives homeschool families unlimited streaming access to 59 of their most popular videos until the end of the year (12/31/2017) for a one time price of $50. (Note that the webpage with the special offer can take a few seconds to load; please be patient.)

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }

I watched many of the videos included in the streaming option, but I'll focus this review on just a few.

It seems like the majority of the videos available through MarshMedia pertain to puberty education. I watched both "A Girl's Guide to Growing Up" and "Growing Up - Girls." "A Girl's Guide to Growing Up" is geared towards girls with special needs. It included a factual but simple explanation of body changes during puberty. It explains how to deal with having a period with very simple, detailed instructions. (It includes such instructions as put a pad inside your underwear sticky side down, wrap used pads before throwing away in a trash can, etc.) It also discusses ways to stay healthy and the importance of staying clean. There is also a lengthy section on privacy which includes reminders that you should close the door so that a private place (bedroom or bathroom) remains private, that you should not touch your private parts unless you are in a private place, that nobody else should touch your private parts, and that you should respect other people's privacy when they are in a bathroom. "A Girls Guide to Growing Up" just talks about the puberty changes that take place for a girl; there is not discussion of the changes happening to boys  and does not discuss conception. "Growing Up - Girls" is a more complete discussion of puberty which includes the changes to both boys and girls during puberty. It discuss conception as the joining of a sperm cell from a boy and an egg cell from a girl, but does not go into further details. It seems very appropriate for the recommended 5th-7th grade range.

In addition to the variety of puberty education videos, MarshMedia offers videos a lot of other videos. I found the "Go Slow Whoa" nutrition video to be a bit on the cheesy side, but educational and fun. It features a game show style contest pitting healthy foods against unhealthy foods.

For younger children, MarshMedia offers a series of more than twenty character education videos. These videos are reminiscent of picture books read aloud to children with colorful cartoon drawings to accompany the story. Each video shows an animal dealing with a tricky social situation. For instance, in "Following Isabella" a sheep named Isabella learns to be a leader, and in "Aloha Potter" an angelfish named Potter learns to deal with the crab who keeps teasing him.

Most of the videos available through MarshMedia cost $29.95 to rent for a 24-hour period. Be sure to check out the special offer for homeschoolers that allows unlimited video streaming until the end of this year.

MarshMedia Reviews

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