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Teaching high school science can be a daunting task for many homeschool parents. There’s a new option in town with General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math which we received for review as part of the Homeschool Review Crew.
When I have talked with other homeschool parents, the idea of teaching a young child usually sparks excitement. And there is something delightful with seeing your child reach milestones like learning to read.
However, many of those same parents start to get nervous when the high school years approach. Within the different courses a typical high school student will take, science and math are the ones that often create the most stress.
It isn’t that homeschool parents have lost their desire to continue guiding their child’s learning path. Rather, they fill ill prepared for those subjects.
My husband and I have advanced science degrees. So, we have that experience in our backgrounds to help us prep for instruction. While I won’t lie and say it isn’t easier to teach science and math if you have that background, it is possible to do so without the advanced training.
New to the homeschool curriculum realm are courses from Novare Science & Math. While we reviewed their chemistry text, you can find material for earth science, introductory physics, as well as the general reference Science for Every Teacher. You can find many of them offered through Memoria Press and Potter School.
About General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math
Novare Science & Math is a company dedicated to providing textbooks that are academically rigorous while remaining true to the Christian faith.
The company was founded by John D. Mays. He was an engineer for several years before switching to secondary education. All of the textbooks he writes are reviewed by scientists with expertise in the field of study.
Novare operates under the signature principles of Mastery, Integration and Kingdom Perspective.
Mastery means that they are continually building upon their knowledge so that the foundation is firm. Students receive opportunities for constant review so they do not fall victim to the typical cram-pass-forget cycle you see in schools. Through this approach, they learn, master and retain the material presented.
Integration refers to the pulling of different content areas (e.g. scientific history and English language usages) into the course. Through this integration, students can have a more coherent and effective learning experience.
Finally, the Kingdom Perspective is where the Christian faith is recognized and students are encouraged to see God’s hand in creation. This includes learning to make the distinction of what is and isn’t a true scientific claim, something which has evidence to support it. Also, students are guided to become “faith-informed perspective of disciples of Christ studying God’s created order.”
The General Chemistry book expects that the student is at minimum taking Algebra II concurrently. For many high school students, that places this course in their junior year.
What is Covered in General Chemistry
For this review, we were sent the 1st edition of the textbook. The 2nd edition is being released this summer and may have a slightly different arrangement and emphasis on topics.
There is an introductory chapter followed by 12 chapters of content:
What is Chemistry all About?
Atoms and Substances
The Periodic Law
Molecular Theory and Metallic Bonding
Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry
Kinetic Theory and States of Matter
The Gas Laws
Acids and Bases
The text is laid out methodically and includes diagrams and other figures to help make the points being presented.
In the back of the text, you will find a glossary, answers to selected exercises, reference data, scientists to know, and references and citations. On the inside of the back cover are two different versions of the Periodic Table.
For the review, we were also provided with a digital download of the General Chemistry Resource CD. This contains 2 quizzes and an exam for each chapter, semester exams, answer keys for all computation questions on quizzes and tests, and recommendations for teaching the course. The company has a digital file available online with sample answers to verbal questions.
Resources We Did Not Review, But May Help With Teaching General Chemistry
Teaching Science so that Students Learn Science
Solutions Manual for General Chemistry (complete answers to computation questions)
Chemistry Experiments for High School at Home
Science for Every Teacher
The Student’s Lab Report Handbook
My Thoughts on General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math
As someone with a chemistry degree, my first thought was that this textbook was very reminiscent of my freshman year in college. Having my college son take a quick look, he commented that it covered everything he had in class last year. So, this is a book that will work well for students wanting a rigorous high school program to prepare for science focused degrees in college.
The chapters might not be long, but they are packed with information. You need to take your time when reading and plan for your student to read through it more than once. Taking notes during the process as well as making flashcards will help as well.
Even though I have taken my share of chemistry classes in the past, I will admit that reading through the chapters too quickly could lead to a headache. There is THAT much information packed densely into those pages.
Before beginning work, both you and your student should read the introductory chapters. They provide many suggestions for how to best approach learning the material.
3 Things That I Liked About General Chemistry
I really appreciated the integration of different subject areas in the material. There is no escaping math in chemistry, regardless of the text you use. However, many texts I have reviewed or used do not take the time to add key scientists and their discoveries into the material the way Mr. Hays does.
Starting off each chapter with objectives for the students to achieve helps to provide greater focus in their studies.
The study questions are closely tied to the chapter objectives. Unlike some textbooks, there are not so many questions that the teacher needs to pick and choose what to have them cover. Instead, students are expected to complete all of the questions.
What I Felt Was Missing for This Review
As I shared, we were sent a copy of the 1st edition and the general resource CD material digitally. Even though I could work all of the problems out myself, I felt like this was not a place where I want to spend my limited time.
Purchasing their General Chemistry Bundle would solve this issue as it includes Solutions Manual for General Chemistry. Additionally, you would have the chemistry experiments booklet with 18 experiments that can be completed in your home.
My reason for stating this is that you do NOT want to attempt to save money by purchasing just the textbook. Homeschool parents are juggling multiple subjects, often for several different grade levels. So, make sure that you have everything needed to teach with minimal effort.
I have taken the do it yourself approach mapping out a high school science course in the past. It takes significant effort. The upside for this particular course is the need to prioritize chapters (or sections of chapters) and assigned questions is removed.
This is a great book for a child planning to study the sciences in college. It provides a firm foundation which will serve them well in college chemistry courses.
An extremely motivated student who loves the sciences would also benefit from this course.
Who this book is not for are students who have little aptitude or interest in the sciences. The material is challenging and they may be easily discouraged in their studies. Couple that with no one who understands the material to act as a mentor and you may have a recipe for disaster.
Are you stressed about teaching high school science?
Would a mastery approach like Novare Science & Math offers work for your family?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit Novare Science & Math Reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this book.