High School Science

MArCH’s Science Department is providing the following information to help you plan your student(s)’ science education.  Our mission is to provide MArCH families with quality science education by providing Enrichment core classes and elective classes.    Please contact us with your specific questions and concerns.  Here are answers to the following commonly asked questions:

What science does my student need?

Business, colleges and the State of Texas work together to develop high school graduation requirements to help prepare our students to be good citizens and to be able to find employment. These requirements may be found on the TEA website (http://tea.texas.gov/). This information can assist home school families in planning their student’s high school plan because it identifies what many colleges and businesses are expecting in a high school graduate.

Students entering as 9th graders in Texas public schools this year are required to complete four years of science for graduation.  Generally, the recommended program follows the traditional plan of 9th grade Integrated Physics and Chemistry, 10th grade Biology, 11th grade Chemistry, and 12th grade Physics.

You can verify that your selected textbooks scope and laboratory exercises meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for a course at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/teks/index.html

What about AP™ classes? (AP is an acronym that stands for the College Board’s Advance Placement program)

Due to grade inflation, some colleges require AP test scores for entry into the college or a specific program such as engineering.  Some colleges may require specific courses such as AP Biology for Pre-Medicine or Pre-Veterinarian programs or AP Physics for engineering programs.  Details may be found at http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/courses/teachers_corner/index.html

Science AP classes generally refer to the second year laboratory course.  For example, AP Chemistry would be the second year of high school Chemistry.  It would be taken after Physics and Algebra II.  The two years of high school chemistry with labs is equivalent in scope and depth to a first year college Chemistry course.  It prepares the student to take the AP Chemistry test, which could qualify for credit at many colleges/universities, depending on the score.  Even without taking the AP test, it demonstrates to colleges that the student can do college-level work.

AP courses have specific course outlines, and a list of recommended textbooks is available for download on the internet.  Review any second year science text with the recommended AP curriculum to ensure that it covers the same material and recommended laboratory exercises.  Commercial test preparation books are also available which can help identify what the student needs to learn in an AP course.

Some science providers consolidate two years of high school science into one year by concentrating on what will be on the AP test.  MArCH believes a home school provider should not state that they are teaching an AP course unless they are officially associated with the AP program from College Board and following their curriculum including recommended labs.

My student isn’t going into science.  Do we really need to take so much science?

We live in a world where our children’s safety, future occupations, their ability to make good civic decisions, and even their recreational activities require science.   For instance, your student wants to be an artist: in addition to understanding the chemical nature of art materials (e.g., paints use transition elements such as titanium white) and chemical processes (e.g., old pictures have green skies due to oxidation-reduction of the art pigments), there is the understanding of the health hazards through contact with skin, lungs, and digestion.  See Health Hazards Manual for Artists by Mike McCann PhD.

Mary Vorgert has had students from NTECH who were adamant that they were not going into science and who are now pursuing science degrees.  Sometimes students do change their direction.

Regardless, we suggest that all MArCH families at least meet the requirements of 4 science classes with labs as expected by colleges.

Why do the MArCH academic science courses take so much time?

There is a transition time to the level of effort required for any high school science course.  This transition is occurring when there are other physical and social changes occurring with the students.

A public or private high school science course, or the Bob Jones or A Beka equivalent, generally has a schedule of 170-180 hours of class time/lab time divided into two semesters of 18 weeks. There is homework.   If a science provider only meets 2-4 hours a week for a condensed class schedule of 15-16 weeks, then the student should expect to do more at home.

MArCH has identified many reasons contributing to the difficulty of this transition period for students. The following are some possible reasons/issues:
– Student’s families want an easier course that does not meet the state’s minimum requirements.
– MArCH high school courses teach all the Texas essential knowledge and skills (TEKs) and any other concepts typically expected by colleges as identified by national science organizations (from a Christian perspective).
– Student’s goal is for above average or superior work
– Many public school students choose to put in only the time and effort required to maintain an average grade. Most home school students generally want to do above average or superior work. This takes time and effort.
– Student has no prior study skills
– MArCH science teachers have incorporated some study skills into their courses. MArCH has also started offering a separate study skills class to help introduce the students to these skills. However, it is up to the parents to enforce these skills in the student’s schoolwork.
– Student lacks good memorization skills
– To help improve memorization skills, MArCH science teachers encourage families to make use of the free on-line flash card and game-making resources of Studystack, located at http://www.studystack.com/.
– Student lacks the science background that other students had in elementary and middle school
– Students may need to work through the summer before a course to ensure elementary and middle school concepts for the subject have been learned
– Student has a slow reading speed
– Many students are sub-vocalizing which is slowing down their reading speed. Parents may test their student at http://www.eyeq.tv/  for reading speed.  However, do not purchase this expensive program until you compare it with other products.
– Students who have earned an A in Algebra I and II find it difficult in Chemistry and Physics to understand where the formulas came from, how to manipulate them, and when to apply them. This is a common phenomenon. Sometimes the problem is just a lack of depth in working with fractions and ratios or translating words into numerical phrases. For example, ‘Density equals the ratio of mass to volume’ becomes D = M/V or D/1 = M/V. If there are 3 variables in a formula then there are three different types of problems (i.e., Solve for density, solve for mass, solve for volume).

Why is high school science so hard?

In addition to the reasons stated above there are other factors.
The density of information (amount to learn/time to learn) is greater. A prime example of this is difference between an elementary, middle school and high school text in terms of pages per chapter, font size, and types of pictures. To illustrate, in elementary school, they may need to label 5 parts of a plant, in middle school, it might be 12, and in high school, it might be 25. Textbook publishers are expecting that the students have seen and learned 12 of the 25 terms. In elementary school, a student might spend a week learning their Latin/Green prefixes for the metric system. In high school, it is one table in a thirty-page chapter.
Students in high school are required to know the material. It isn’t enough to recognize a ‘bat’. They need to understand the bat’s mammalian respiration, circulation, nervous system, reproductive system, excretory system, skeletal system, position in the food web, importance to the farmer, etc.
Students are moving away from the lower levels of learning (knowledge, understanding) and are asked to apply, evaluate and sometimes synthesis information.
Within an hour students switch from what they see on their table to using a microscope to having to visualize atoms and processes with models.
Without having learned Greek and Latin roots, a lot of the vocabulary is new and difficult.

What courses will MArCH Enrichment offer next year?

A survey is done every year in February where returning families indicate which high school science classes they need. If there are enough students and an available teacher then the class will be offered in the fall.

Bob Jones and MArCH High School Science – Can we afford it?

Assumption:  A family wishes to provide its student(s) with a bonafide laboratory science as outlined by all state education agencies and expected by all major colleges, or they know their student learns best with lots of hands-on activities.

In either case, families must either purchase lab equipment and materials themselves (e.g., microscope, dissection materials, chemistry set, optics bench, ripple tank, force table, etc.) OR find a provider.

To purchase materials for home use, here is an example using high school chemistry.  Using Home Science Tools (http://www.homesciencetools.com/) prices in 2007:

Bob Jones – $143.95 and/or Quality Science Lab’s MicroChem kit $119.95 + home supplies

A Beka – $298.95 plus optional lab DVD $295

Apologia – $41.95 kit and Quality Science Lab’s MicroChem kit $119.95 + home supplies

Switched-On Schoolhouse – $135.95 kit + home supplies

Most local providers offering high school science classes charge $65-$75 a month for 9 months plus a registration fee.  Student books for a course, on an average, cost an extra $100.  The total course cost is $770-$850.  The classes are generally 2 contact hours per week for 32-36 weeks.  They may be one day or split the time between two days.

In contrast, a Bob Jones single high school science online course is $349. This price includes the videos (3 hours and 45 minutes per week of lecture for 18 weeks), the student text, and lab manual.  Using a DVD course provides 170 hours of lecture and demonstrations from an experienced Christian educator, provides schedule flexibility for the home school family, and allows students to go back over the material as often as needed.  Note: this is a 13-month lease; all materials may be used with multiple students within this timeframe.

For high school lab sciences, your student may participate in a MArCH high school science lab course for a lab fee of $100 a year coordinated to the Bob Jones DVD/online class.  This gives your student two additional contact hours with a live teacher per week (60 hours a year), participation in laboratories, real-life demos, activities, and math help.

Does Bob Jones offer alternatives to the Subject Kit?

Bob Jones offers one alternative to the Subject Kit:
Full Grade Kit, which includes a 13-month lease of the DVDs, all essential textbooks that are needed to teach the courses in that grade, and teacher-prepared handouts. Subjects included in this kit are Bible, English, Social Studies, Foreign Language, Math, and Science. The cost of this kit is $999.

May we still participate in the laboratory Enrichment class if we use another curriculum or do not get the Bob Jones DVDs/Satellite?

Yes, students do not need to use Bob Jones to be able to take Enrichment classes. If students want to take high school credit classes, then they need to use the text the class is using.

What are some of the benefits of taking MArCH High School Science?

Enrollment in the labs at MArCH eliminates the need for families to purchase expensive lab materials and the time and effort to set up the labs and demos, and having to dispose of used and possibly hazardous materials.   Having lab on one day only, Fridays, relieves the families from having to commit a second day to structured activities.  It also provides a fun learning experience for the students with students he/she knows from Enrichment; consider it another bonding experience.

For further questions and clarifications, contact Heidi Orton at science@marchgroup.org.