Conquering High School Science:
Gaining Confidence with High School Science at Home
Defining Phyla Porifera and Cnidaria for your tenth grader or quizzing your eleventh grader on the Dipole Moment or the physical properties of gases can be nerve wracking. High school level science is not for the faint hearted. Rule One for the home schooling parent has to be to check your depth and then just dive in.
Achieving a high level of academic accomplishment in 9th-12th grade science is a major concern, but it's one that can be reached by a determined novice. After using Rule One the following six steps will help.
Always begin with teaching the biblical view of science. The order and beauty of the creation comes from our Creator God. This is His world, His universe. Psalm 33 is one of many Psalms that detail the importance of understanding the origin of things. Pagan mythology and evolutionary religion are the science of fools. Show how important it is to God that we grasp the truth of His creating power, and how important it is for us! Count how often the subject is brought up in Scripture. Use an exhaustive concordance to track words such as "made," "create," "frame," etc. The biblical view of science says that all things find their origin in the Lord, in His purposes, as an expression of His glory. The roar of the sea illustrates His voice, the jealousy of a mother bears a picture of his love for us. Man is created in His image to show forth righteousness and dominion in the earth. Animals reveal some aspect of man's character, as man is supposed to reflect some of God's character. The ant instructs man in his work ethic. Sheep were Jesus' example for His people in order to teach them the idea of following and trust. The way we look at the creation, the creature, or ourselves must reflect this beginning point of understanding God's purpose of revelation in all that He made.
A major aspect of teaching science on the high school level is the math. This is especially true of chemistry and physics. In the lower grades children often have trouble seeing the relationship of math to science. This is still a most important feature on the high school level. Story problems are perennially the most difficult and hated feature of math. Story problems, however, come into their own in the study of science. You must be able to do the math yourself or know someone who is able to do the math so as to effectively teach the relationship between math and science.
Know where to find information. Help your child find the sources. Whether it is the use of computers, the library or some other source, make it your business to know where to go for answers. Get a set of scientific encyclopedias, scientific software, magazine subscriptions, Creation Research publications, all books by Dr. Henry Morris and his group. (For an excellent example, see: The Long War Against God.)
Teach your child how to make a good analysis. This is dealt with in the Covenant Home Curriculum requirements on note-taking and notebook keeping. Nothing is more fruitful than a carefully honed ability to listen to a presentation and come away with a good set of notes. Nothing is more effective for learning and remembering than the talent of reading a chapter and writing a complete outline on the text. Have your child listen while you read a chapter of the science text. As they listen they must 1) concentrate, 2) filter out the main points and 3) write a coherent outline with supporting data. Do the same with science tapes, nature programs on TV, presentations at your church or local Creationist organization.
Get familiar with scientific vocabulary. Always use the glossary in the text. Note the words printed in bold type. Use the notebook for explanations of these words and terms. Get used to looking up Latin. Drill your child in the spelling and meaning of these terms. Give frequent quizzes. Include a section on words and terms in your tests. If a student is familiar with scientific terminology he will be ahead when he gets to college.
Find a friend, a relative, someone at church or in your neighborhood who can help in the tight spots. Doctors know the terminology and can help with Latin words. Pharmacists and engineers can often assist with math and other questions. Having a willing friend who can bump you over a difficult log-jam is one of the best assets in teaching high school science.
Having these six steps firmly in place, your science courses will be fruitful. These factors are more productive than slicing up cow's eyes or murdering frogs. Interesting collections of bugs, bird's eggs, dried flowers, and leaves impart more "practical" knowledge than a passel of flaming lab experiments.
So, what is the bottom line?
Text book and test bank are the minimum tools. Read, study and outline the text thoroughly, using the six points above as a guide. This is your first-level approach.
The laboratory manual and teacher's key carry the course considerably further. Use these additional manuals as much as possible.
A good source of lab materials, sample minerals, dissection equipment, optical equipment, etc. is Home Training Tools. Call them at 1-800-860-6272 or send for their catalog : 2827 Buffalo Horn Dr., Laurel, MT 59044.
Rev. Dale K. Dykema