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How to teach high school science in your homeschool.

In the high school years, many homeschool families start to look more seriously at the tools and resources they use with their high school students. Science is the number one outsourced subject for high school. This is especially true for college-bound homeschoolers. There are a number of reasons why, including: 

  • students what teacher-led hands-on experiments
  • science labs, science labs, science labs
  • high school level science is more advanced
  • the homeschool mom is already teaching multiple grade levels and has no bandwidth for one.more.thing

 These are all very valid reasons to consider a homeschool co-op or outsourcing partner. Let's look at some ways you can incorporate different types of high school science courses as the homeschool parent.

Looking at the High School Curriculum

When it comes to elementary students, it's easy to work in science. Younger kids love the local library and a unit study, field trip, or simple text book can get the job done. Who needs lesson plans? 

High school is a different animal. Field trips are still a great way to teach a love of learning in science for the student who isn't science-minded. But for the serious student who needs credits in earth science, physical science, labs or virtual labs, we might need more than a living book or hands-on activities.

It's helpful to begin with the end in mind. And that starts before we choose our homeschool science curriculum. It starts with a plan for high school. Our older students need a strategy for high school! So, let's start there. 

A Plan for High School with College Admission in Mind

Let’s start by looking at high school as a four-year program. This will give us a long-view approach and help us determine what classes make sense within our subject areas. I’ll list each subject and then a common 4-year course of study. You are going to want to focus on the Core Four and go from there:

Once we've confirmed we have a plan for our Cour Four, including science, we can add in extra curriculars, community service, academic testing, etc. But, we really want to nail a core subject, like science. We want to do more than have our bases covered. Can a standard high school science textbook do that? Do we need to focus on a college prep science? Common questions about science include:

  • how many years of science do we need?
  • how do we figure a high school credit?
  • is there a homeschool high school science curriculum available? 
  • what can we do in middle school science to prepare us for high school?

Hands-On Projects for Science

You don't have to approach science form the traditional linear method at all. Even if that's what you did last year and every year for as long as you can remember. You can cover the scientific method, lab reports, and science experiments in a unique way. 

  1. Biology:
    a. Dissection: Study animal anatomy through dissections of organisms like frogs, earthworms, or squid. b. Microscope Investigations: Explore the microscopic world by examining cells, microorganisms, or plant structures.
    c. Ecosystem Study: Create a small ecosystem in a terrarium or aquarium, and observe the interactions among plants and animals.
  2. Chemistry:
    a. Chemical Reactions: Perform experiments to observe chemical reactions, such as the classic baking soda and vinegar volcano.
    b. Titration: Teach titration techniques with real acids and bases to determine their concentrations. c. Electrolysis: Show the principles of electrolysis by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.
  3. Physics:
    a. Build Simple Machines: Construct simple machines like pulleys, levers, or inclined planes to understand their mechanics.
    b. Kinematics: Use a smartphone app or a motion sensor to analyze the motion of objects.
    c. Electric Circuits: Create and experiment with simple electric circuits to learn about current, voltage, and resistance.
  4. Astronomy:
    a. Stargazing: Observe celestial objects through a telescope or binoculars, learning about constellations and celestial events.
    b. Solar System Models: Build scale models of the solar system using everyday objects to understand planetary distances.
    c. Meteorology: Track and record weather data, including temperature, humidity, and precipitation.
  5. Environmental Science:
    a. Water Quality Testing: Collect water samples from local bodies of water and test for pH, dissolved oxygen, and pollutants.
    b. Soil Analysis: Analyze soil samples for composition, pH, and nutrient content.
    c. Ecological Surveys: Study local ecosystems by identifying and documenting plant and animal species.
  6. Geology:
    a. Rock and Mineral Identification: Collect and identify rocks and minerals, learning about their properties and origins.
    b. Fossil Hunting: Search for fossils in your area, and create a mini-museum with your findings. c. Earthquake Simulation: Create a model to simulate seismic activity and understand plate tectonics.
  7. Computer Science:
    a. Coding Projects: Learn programming through coding projects in languages like Python or JavaScript. b. Robotics: Build and program robots to perform specific tasks or follow lines.
    c. Web Development: Create a website or web application from scratch.
  8. Forensic Science:
    a. Crime Scene Investigation: Set up a mock crime scene and learn forensic techniques like fingerprint analysis and DNA extraction.
    b. Blood Spatter Analysis: Experiment with blood spatter patterns to understand crime scene reconstruction.
  9. Health and Anatomy:
    a. First Aid Training: Learn essential first aid skills, such as CPR, wound care, and dealing with common medical emergencies.
    b. Anatomy Models: Use anatomical models to study the human body's structure and systems.

Remember to tailor these activities to your student's interests and any specific curriculum requirements. Additionally, safety should always be a priority, so ensure you have appropriate safety equipment and guidance for any experiments involving chemicals or potentially hazardous materials.

Text Books for Science

Using a high school science textbook can be an effective way to teach science in your homeschool, but it's important to make the material engaging and meaningful for your high school student. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Read and Discuss: Begin by having your student read the textbook chapters. Encourage active reading by taking notes and highlighting important concepts. After each section or chapter, discuss what they've learned. Ask questions to check their understanding and encourage critical thinking.
  2. Hands-On Experiments and Activities: Complement textbook reading with hands-on experiments and activities that align with the content. This provides a practical understanding of scientific principles and makes the learning experience more engaging. For example, if the textbook discusses chemical reactions, conduct experiments to demonstrate these reactions.
  3. Supplementary Resources: Use other resources to supplement the textbook. This could include online videos, documentaries, educational websites, and additional books. These resources can provide different perspectives and enhance the learning experience.
  4. Real-World Applications: Discuss how the scientific concepts in the textbook apply to the real world. Explore current events, news articles, and case studies related to the subject matter. This helps students see the relevance of what they're learning.
  5. Projects and Research: Assign research projects or science investigations related to the topics covered in the textbook. These projects can be independent or collaborative, and they encourage students to dig deeper into specific areas of interest.
  6. Labs and Field Trips: If possible, set up a home laboratory or participate in field trips to museums, science centers, or natural settings. These experiences provide hands-on learning and allow students to apply what they've learned from the textbook.
  7. Practice Problems: Many science textbooks include practice problems and exercises. Encourage your student to work through these to reinforce their understanding and develop problem-solving skills. You can also find additional problem sets online.
  8. Online Forums and Discussions: Join online science forums or discussion groups where students can interact with others studying the same material. This can provide a sense of community and allow students to ask questions and learn from peers.
  9. Assessments: Use the textbook's built-in assessments or create your own quizzes and tests to gauge your student's comprehension of the material. These assessments can help you identify areas that may require more focus.
  10. Timely Reviews: Regularly review and summarize what's been learned. Periodic reviews help consolidate knowledge and prepare for exams or assessments.
  11. Incorporate Technology: Utilize educational apps and software to enhance learning. There are various interactive simulations and tools available that can help students grasp complex concepts.
  12. Critical Thinking Exercises: Encourage your student to think critically about the content. Have them analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information, and perhaps even debate or present arguments on related topics.
  13. Personalize the Curriculum: Tailor the curriculum to your student's interests. If they have a specific interest in a subfield of science, explore it more deeply through additional resources and projects.

Remember that flexibility is key in homeschooling. Adjust the approach as needed to meet your student's learning style and pace. The goal is to make science education enjoyable, relevant, and effective.

Online Courses for Science

Online courses can be an excellent choice for homeschool parents when outsourcing high school science education for several compelling reasons:

  1. Expert Instruction: Online courses are often taught by experienced educators who specialize in the subject matter. This ensures that your child receives quality instruction and gains in-depth knowledge of the science topics.
  2. Diverse Curriculum: Online courses offer a wide range of science subjects, including advanced and specialized courses. This allows homeschooling parents to choose courses that align with their child's interests and future academic or career goals.
  3. Consistency: Online courses typically follow a structured curriculum with clear learning objectives and milestones. This helps maintain consistency and ensures that your child covers the necessary content.
  4. Interactive Learning: Many online science courses incorporate interactive elements, such as videos, simulations, quizzes, and virtual labs. These resources make learning engaging and can deepen your child's understanding of complex scientific concepts.
  5. Self-Paced Learning: Some online courses allow students to learn at their own pace. This flexibility is beneficial for high school students with varying learning speeds, allowing them to move at a comfortable rate through the material.
  6. Assessment and Feedback: Online courses often provide regular assessments and feedback, which helps parents and students gauge progress and identify areas that may require additional attention.
  7. Access to Resources: Online courses typically provide access to a wealth of supplementary materials, including textbooks, articles, and additional resources. This can be particularly useful for students who want to delve deeper into a subject.
  8. Independence and Accountability: Online courses encourage students to take responsibility for their learning. They learn how to manage their time, meet deadlines, and stay organized, valuable skills for college and beyond.
  9. Real-World Skills: Some online science courses integrate practical skills like laboratory work or data analysis, preparing students for future science-related careers or college-level courses.
  10. Parental Support: While online courses offer expert instruction, parents can still provide valuable support. Homeschooling parents can assist with questions, facilitate discussions, and guide their children through the course material.
  11. Flexible Scheduling: Online courses often provide flexibility in terms of when and where the student can complete the coursework. This can be helpful for families with busy schedules or those who travel frequently.
  12. Cost-Effective: Online courses can be a cost-effective option compared to hiring a private tutor or enrolling in traditional brick-and-mortar school programs.
  13. Access to Experts: Online courses may connect students with subject matter experts, guest lecturers, or online communities that offer valuable insights and networking opportunities.
  14. Customization: Many online courses offer customization options, allowing you to tailor the curriculum to your child's specific needs and interests.

It's important to research and choose reputable online course providers or institutions. Verify that the courses align with your state's educational requirements if applicable, and ensure that the technology and resources necessary for online learning are readily available to your child. Overall, online courses can provide a well-rounded and comprehensive science education for homeschool high school students while offering the flexibility and support homeschooling parents may need.

True North Homeschool Academy for Online Science

True North Homeschool Academy's Formula is Student-Focused, Academically Sound, and Intentional About Relationships

 We know there are a sea of homeschool curriculum options available to you. We also understand opting for an online homeschool experience might be intimidating. Rest assured, we're here to support YOU in YOUR homeschooling journey.

Everything we do, every class offered, every teacher hired is with you in mind.

Homeschooling should be:

  • fun
  • build your family relationships
  • be academically strong, and engaging. 

Our teachers are available to students and parents with a quick email or during the live, dynamic teaching. Students connect during class, making new friends. Students see that there are other homeschoolers in this world, learning alongside them. Parents can know these parents have the same core values (it's baked into our homeschool pedagogy and mission statement!) It's the True North Homeschool Academy difference. 

We offer live (via Zoom) online, dynamic (access to the teacher and class interaction), classes based on the SAMR model of education. 
The SAMR model of education is framework of education that “ is a framework that orders strategies for classroom technology implementation into four stages.

S- Substitution A- Augmentation M- Modification R- Redefinion. 

This framework is applied to the homeschool model through the use of technology, gamification, multimedia presentations, publishing, and more. 

Science Offerings

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