Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science, 2 Vol, 2nd Ed.
September 22, 2015
We have completed the first module and are beginning the second, so far I am very pleased with this science book. There are many experiments to do which makes the study of science so much more enjoyable for my son. There is a lot of material covered in a module but the study guide really helps to focus in on what will be covered in the final test. I purchased a separate test book, but discovered that the tests are reproducible from the answer key book, so once you purchase the initial set of books you need only to buy a student book for each additional child who goes through this book. I really like the set up of the student book. It keeps your student's work together in one place.
I have used Apologia with two of my students. My oldest used General and Physical. My next child used General. We did not use the Audio CD. I thought it *might* help my next child, who has various special needs, but after listening to the sample, I'm thinking the narrator speaks too quickly compared with average conversational speech. For both students and myself, we found the text to be tedious ( I realize science text, in general, tends to be tedious, but I'm talking more than what is to be normally expected.) There are too many tangents and/or attempts at making a point which actually end up having the opposite effect, -blurring it instead. I, the teacher, had a love-hate relationship with the "On Your Own" questions. They are indeed thought provoking. However, if your student doesn't *love* science and/or doesn't possess above average ability toward science concepts, these questions, too, will prove tedious and often heavily time consuming (unless you have the time and will make the necessary effort to lead them through their critical thinking skills each time.)
The study guide and review questions, while very thorough, are also equally time consuming (compared one to the other). My next child, who struggles with organizational and critical thinking, was absolutely bogged down by the level of review, albeit a very thorough study guide, once completed.
If you have a child that struggles with visual learning, reading comprehension, intense visual work (as is the case with large chunks of text to read at one time), organization thinking or critical thinking, then Apologia is going to be a very poor match, in my experience.
We intend to use a computer based science curriculum and optional compliementary science kit instead, this year. The particular curriculum we selected includes games, video, audio, and online text, in addition to videos for the experiments. Journaling is also involved (optional). These multi-sensory approaches are not only more appealing to my next child, but also necessary. As for my oldest, her Apologia grades ranged from upper B to a rare F. She is slightly above average intelligence, gives focused and slightly above average effort, and is very capable of independent work. Yet, she had her own struggles with Apologia (reflected in inconsistent grades, and in her lack of enthusiasm toward the curriculum.) I want to be clear that in spite of her lack of enthusiasm, she gave full effort to her attempts to succeed. She is currently in a private school with a 3.9 GPA, which obviously includes an A in science. While I do credit Apologia for helping to prepare her for the work ethic required to succeed, I still found it to be unappealing to *both* of my students, who had very different needs, learning styles, and abilities.
My son practically slept with this book after it came in the mail. I could barely tear it away from him so that I could check it out. We have had such a difficult time finding quality science curriculums and we love this one. This is somewhat demanding material, but is is straightforward, and in depth with a Christian worldview. My son is working toward going to a private christian high school, so I appreciate the more standard text book approach. I have never liked the hippie style, all fun and games, science curriculums, but if that's what works for you and your kid, this might not be the best for you, though you could easily adapt it. We really like reading and more "butt in seat" work in my house, so this works really well for us.
I, personally, love both this book and the Apologia Physical Science book. The author uses a pleasant, conversational style. The material is very interesting, and the experiments are mostly easy to do. Best of all, most of the questions cause the student to go beyond memorizing. These texts' questions are formulated such that the student must obtain a clear understanding (beyond simple knowledge and memorization) of the concepts and be able to analyze and problem-solve. Therefore, the material is learned and retained. Yay! My 13 and 14-year-old sons though, hate these books. They are weak in science except in the areas of "pre" physics and technology. They are great readers yet these texts are difficult for them to comprehend. The author often goes off on tangents making it difficult to discern his point. The books could use more graphics to assist the student in forming a mental image. Hymnwriter and author Isaac Watts, 16th century, in The Improvement of the Mind, adamantly agrees. I called Apologia's help phone, left a message (which was happily returned the same day!) and spoke with one of the online teachers. He first said that students have to be good at and well prepared in math. My boys are. Next he suggested that since they like and can learn physical science a little more easily, that we skip general science and go straight to phys. science. "They're probably bored," he said. So we tried a couple chapters of phys. science --no improvement. This year, I still want to do these courses because students are taught to think, but we'll try again with a phys. science chapter they might like AND use the DVD classes as well as continue to build their knowledge with chapters from another curriculum's books. For us, though, it's impossible to do a chapter in just 2 weeks as is recommended and as is needed to complete each text in a year. A month is more like it it. My sons also are not keen on the experiments and lab reports since they have to put a lot of time into just studying the chapter. And I'm confused about how to do the lab reports. I need some examples. If we bomb again this year, we'll use another curriculum for the remainder high schoool. Right now, I'm simply confused.
As many others have said, the first chapter was quite dry and for those of us who have a Charlotte Mason - Living book preference, this was disappointing. After the first test which was names/date/matching, I felt like I might need to revamp the way we use the course and our grading. Fortunately it improved from there tremendously. Just as we had in Jeannie Fulbrights Apologia, my daughter was reading interesting facts that she would come share with excitement. The experiments were easy to do. My only complaint would be that I would appreciate a heads up if an experiment needs to sit for a week to be ready to gather data. So I guess now knowing that I know that I would say read ahead so you can start any experiments that take time to develop so they will be ready and you can stay on schedule. Lastly, the Companion CD worked on our MAC computer using Snow Leopard.