Welcome to week 3 of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair. The **theme this week is Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science**—includes anything to do with mathematics, mathematical thinking, numbers, arithmetic, symbolic logic, critical thinking, and math-y sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.). So, I am going to **share how we approach STEM studies in this homeschool year for my boys.**

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# Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies

When you look at math and the math intense science classes, you can see an **underlying connection of patterns**. Because of the orderly nature of these subjects, there are clear paths for manipulation. I’m not saying there is only one way to reach a solution. But, rather, there are **basic facts which govern how everything operates**.

If you talk to educators, they group almost all of these studies into the overarching category of STEM subjects. STEM stands for **Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math**. We aren’t doing engineering studies per se, but we do have science, technology, and math happening in the house.

## STEM: Math Studies

When it comes to patterns, many people think about math. It is a subject that students begin as early as preschool and continue through the high school years. Occasionally, there is a child who only does 3 years of math in high school. However, I am seeing more and more get a full 4 year long classes, or more, into their plans.

### Right Start Math for Younger Grades

My youngest is technically in 1st grade. For my other boys, we stuck exclusively to **using Math U See**. However, **for this child who loves to have more interaction with his mama, we are using Right Start Math.**

I am having a love-hate relationship with the program.

I can see that **he loves the games and interactions**. They have a **master manipulative kit** which we purchased. Inside are **all the tools needed to engage them in learning the lessons.**

And, **I like how well laid out the newer edition teacher guide is laid out for use**. It is not a fully on ‘script’ of what to say. But, it provides serious guidance to the home educator.

My ‘hate’ component isn’t super strong. It is more the realization that **he needs me to be fully present for the entire lesson.** While I might be able to train a brother to help out, that hasn’t happened. I’ll put this as **more of a selfish desire to not have all of his work be done alongside me when there are other things vying for my attention.**

The result is that we tend to do several lessons in one day. **Cluster learning.** And, I am realizing that it is **not the best way to help them retain the knowledge gained.** My solution aside from scheduling the time is to provide him self-directed practice opportunities. But, ultimately, I am going to be forcing my free natured self to impose a school schedule.

But, ultimately, I am going to be **forcing my free natured self to impose a school schedule**. As in we are going to do schoolwork together at a set time each day. When we are done or the time is over, then he can move into independent studies. If I ever get the motivation totally there, we’ll try doing a **workbox approach for his independent studies.**

### Algebra Studies with Math U See

My other boys are knee deep in catch up on the Math U See programs. My** 8th grader is doing Algebra I** while my **11th grader is working on Algebra II.**

I won’t go into all the mechanics of how it works. **The essence is that this program is mastery focused.** This means that they are not supposed to move to the next lesson without showing they GET the current one.

Between their desire to do minimal work and my juggling of other things, **there are times when they have to cycle back to refresh the knowledge.** This could be instantaneous if they **miss more than a few problems on the lesson’s test.** Or, it is usually **because they decided to not look at their math for a few weeks and have ‘forgotten’ an earlier concept.**

I’m seriously considering having a minimum of 2 times per week they need to use an online program that records their activity. We have a subscription to **CTC Math** which I recall my eldest son favoring for the high school math topics.

## STEM: Science Studies

For this particular week, the science discussed are those in the **physical sciences (chemistry and physics.)**

As my 1st grader is doing an overview course that covers all the sciences, I am going to share about that program next week. Both of my other boys are doing physical sciences this year, though.

I do have some** hands-on kits for STEM** that my youngest is enjoying from Lakeshore Learning.

### Middle School Physical Sciences

My 8th grader is using **Real Science 4 Kids as the base**. We spent the fall working through their Focus On: Middle School Chemistry and are now doing the physics book.

If you are expecting a really thick textbook for them to read, then you may be disappointed.

Dr. Keller (who has her PhD in Chemistry) wrote the program to** cover the main topics in a matter of fact approach**. The books include **just enough graphics to help show the concepts to the students.** And, the lab books are written with **simple experiments that can easily be done at home**.

The trained scientist in me appreciates the no fuss approach. I also like how Dr. Keller has no preconceptions about concepts being too challenging for homeschoolers. If they want to read more on a topic, they can dig deeper through other books.

During the fall, I held a **middle school science lab which used the program for a guide.** We almost always used the experiment from the lab manual. But, we also used the **Physical Science kit from Quality Science Labs** (review coming soon!)

Marshmallow Molecules was one of the experiments from her lab book.

### High School Conceptual Physics

Oh my goodness.

I’ve **shared about this particular curriculum in the past**. And, I shared how I wish THIS had been the book used when I took physics in high school. Not because math scared me. I was acing AP Calculus at the time and there were NO calculators allowed. Rather, I was so focused on the math that some of the concepts had a hard time taking root.

I am a BIG proponent of this curriculum. **If anyone asks me what their high school student should do for physics, I say to start here.** You can always move into a more advanced textbook later.

**My eldest used it and has not had any major problems taking physics at the college level.**

The beauty of this program is the **focus on the concepts before layering in the math.**

Many students, whether at home or in a school, dread physics because of the math. Most physics curriculums contain a huge focus on the math.

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This year, I am going a step further from how my eldest worked through the program.** I am teaching a once a week physics class using this text.** We **cover the concepts to make sure everyone is grasping things and then we do one or more experiment**s that go with the topic. I’ll admit that most weeks we only have time to do data collection. The rest is finished via a Google Doc for communicating next steps.

I am also** using the Physics 101 DVD set we reviewed** last year. They have a similar philosophy of presenting concepts before math. So, they work well together when there is overlap in topics.

#### Experiment Sources for Conceptual Physics

As for the experiments, I have three primary sources for them.

First off is the **Physics kit from Quality Science Labs**. (I will be doing a full review of it soon!)

Just like the physical science kit, this one has almost everything you will need in the box along with the instruction manual and a solutions guide.

Their approach tends to incorporate math. However, working as a group including a walk through the math allows it to work.

My **second source is a favorite: Supercharged Science.** Aurora has most experiments set for the student to do on their own or in a small group. And, they can all be done in the home.

Finally, I own the teacher resource CD for Conceptual Physics. As I knew I would be using this with more than one child, the investment seemed worth it. It is expensive and I think the only reason I could get it was because we homeschool through a program with a school district. The **lab manual for the course** is included. Occasionally, if I could not find a perfect match at either of the other sources, I will use one in here.

## STEM: Technology

This year, my 8th grader wanted to have technology on his learning plan (ILP.)

Sphero SPRK+ STEAM Educational Robot

The primary reason was seeing some really neat robotics options at the annual curriculum fair.

The **Sphero STEAM Educational Robot** was capturing the interest of most every kid who came by that booth. You can control the robot via an app. It is through use of the app that the child learns. The Text-Based Code Viewer lets you see the code and use this as a foundation to learn more about programming.

The only way to have our school pay for something is if it fits your ILP. So, technology went onto the ILP and we are still figuring out exactly what he is doing. Below are a few books I am looking to get to help.

Sphero Robotics: Coding for STEMThe Big Book of Makerspace Projects

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We did spend some time this fall using** DASH which we received for review**.

This colorful robot is able to accept commands via several different apps. Those get loaded onto an iPad or another compatible device. Some are more complicated than others with the age range for use being from preschool through middle school.

Some are more complicated than others with the age range for use being from preschool through middle school. And, you can get add-ons like a xylophone or launcher.

Wonder Workshop Dash RobotWonder Workshop Launcher for Dash RobotWonder Workshop Dash & Dot Robot Wonder PackWonder Workshop Xylophone for Dash Robot

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## Discovering Patterns: See What other Bloggers are Sharing

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

If you have a post that fits this theme, feel free to add it to the linky below.

**What are some ways that you approach STEM subjects like science, math, and technology?
Is your approach more hands-on (experiments and/or manipulatives) or textbook based?**

Brittney says

Laura says

Lori says

Laura says

Susan says

Laura says

Michele@Familyfaithandfridays says

Laura says