I love the Apologia science curriculum and have every book in the elementary and middle school series. I have started collecting the high school books to use as my children begin to move into higher level science. When comparing the high school books to the elementary and middle school levels, you can see the difference. The high school books dig deeper into the science areas, but many of the same features of the early science studies continue throughout high school. The high school science books continue to be engaging, conversational in presentation, promote independence in student study and learning, and keep God as the focus. Those same features are what I found in the recently released Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries.
I have three STEM loving children and one of them, River, began his freshman high school year this fall. Although he enjoys studying marine life, we never used the Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures study. By the time I bought it, he was too old for the content. So, when the opportunity to review the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set, which is for high school students, become available, I did not hesitate to request the opportunity. Although he has not yet taken biology, which is a prerequisite for the course, I thought the curriculum would be appropriate for his grade level and ability.
The Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set comes with a Textbook, Tests-and-Solutions Manual and a Student Notebook. A textbook, a tests and solutions manual and notebook are included in all the Apologia Science middle school and high school Advantage Sets.
The text book is 557 pages, hardback and filled with colorful images and interesting content that speaks to the student. The curriculum is written by Sherri Seligson, a homeschool mom, whose personality comes through in the material. She loves marine biology (all science) and does not hold back from laying a foundation for your child to also love science and studying marine biology.
The Student Notebook is spiral-bound with a glossy finish on the heavy card stock covers. The 505 page book contains the lesson plan, pages for note taking (with examples) and recording scientific findings, and lab charts. There is also a section called Presenting Your Research: Creating a Presentation Poster where the student will learn how to make posters, so they may share scientific and general information about their study. That is a valuable skill for a high school student to learn.
The Tests book and Solutions and Test Manual finish off the set with tests for each of the 16 modules as well as detailed test answers.
Depending on the scope and sequence your child follows in high school science, Marine Biology is one subject they may not have the opportunity to take before graduating. Many students take biology in the ninth or tenth grade, which leaves only two or three years to complete required science courses; Marine Biology not being one of them. If you have a student interested in studying marine biology, I would suggest getting them on track with science, so they may take the course during their senior year as a higher level science.
River followed the schedule that is included in the Student Notebook. The pace was fast with him spending a little more than two weeks on a module. Along with reading the text, completing two to five experiments per module, completing the pages in the Student Notebook, he spent around one hour a day on science; five days a week. You may adjust the schedule to fit your family.
Each module has a companion section in the Student Notebook with the student completing On Your Own (OYO) questions, study guide questions with vocabulary and an optional summary. The modules cover topics like:
Module 1 – The Oceans of Our Plant
Module 2 – Life in the Sea
Module 3 – The First Four Kingdoms
Module 4 – Marine Invertebrates 1
Module 5 – Marine Invertebrates II
…and more. The first module had the most experiments, but they were gentle and eased him into the learning.
The experiments call for you to use items that you more than likely already have at home. There is a list of needed supplies in the textbook.
We also received the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD, read by Marissa Leinart, which added a totally new element to our learning experience. We have never used an Apologia MP3 Audio Book CD. I was not sure if River would prefer (or enjoy) listening to an audio of the textbook being read to him. I listened before he did and it was not too bad. I can see how an audio book is a great compliment to the study, especially for audio learners or when using the younger science series, for early readers. Another benefit was being able to use the audio while traveling in the car, which we seem to be doing a lot this school year.
Another feature I really like about the new editions of the Apologia science books is the colorful pages that are included in the Textbook and Student Notebook. Although the Marine Biology Student Notebook does not have as much color as some of the middle school and elementary notebooks, the accents of color are minor, but they make a difference to me. Isn’t it all about presentation?
I also like the detailed scheduled that is included in the notebook. I use to enjoy creating a study page schedule for my children when they were younger. Now that they are older and are using more curricula, scheduling the pace of work is not easy and is time consuming; especially when you are teaching more than one child. Along with the schedule being a help to the parent/teacher, it is an excellent tool for the student who is ready to be more independent in his work. Students may see, at-a-glance, the five-day, 34-week schedule ahead of them for the school year.
The Student Notebook is helpful to both the student and the parent/teacher. It starts with the Parent Notes and has information about how to use the books in the study, a rubric for grading the experiments and figuring out grades for the semester and year. I totally have no clue how to do either, so that is helpful.
River is a freshman in high school and has not yet taken high school biology. He has a scientific mind, but not all of the skill behind it yet. Although I think he understood the content while reading it, he has not had a lot of experience with conducting lab experiments or doing dissections. That aside, he enjoyed working through the modules and the experiments he completed. I had him complete the tests orally and we were able to discuss his answers along the way. The hands-on experiments always make the difference when it comes to studying science and they did in this instance.
Just a comment: The tabs in the Student Notebook are helpful, but it would be neat if the tabs were different colors to easily differentiate the beginning and ending of the pages in a module OR were tabbed down the sides of the pages for the beginning of a new section like it is done in the Textbook.
The Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set may be enough of an incentive for River to “get on it” and start working through his science study, so the marine biology curriculum may be included during his senior year for science. Canyon (shown above with his brother) may already be on the right track.
The Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set is available for $115, but at this posting is currently on sale for $96.75. You may also purchase the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD for $29.
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