Friday, 22 August 2014

08:28 – I’m still building and shipping science kits. I have a new batch of 30 biology kits binned and ready to finish boxing up, which’ll take an hour or so. Then I’ll get started on another batch of 60 chemistry kits.

Meanwhile, when I have a spare moment, I’m still working on the new Earth Science and AP Chemistry kits. The more I work with the 2013 revision of the AP Chemistry lab curriculum, the less I like it. The pre-2013 curriculum included 22 labs, which I thought was too few. The 2013 revision cuts that to 16 labs, but duplication among those labs reduces it to only 12 or 13. They’ve also narrowed the scope, skipping many major topics that should be covered in a second-year high-school chemistry lab course. And they’ve gone to all “guided-inquiry” labs, which basically means the teacher tells the students what the goal is and leaves it up to them to figure out what to do and how to do it. I don’t think that’s appropriate even in a public school setting with a qualified AP Chemistry teacher, let alone in a homeschool environment. Students should think about what they’re doing and why, certainly, but tossing them in at the deep end results in a lot of flailing around and wasted time. Finally, the official AP Chemistry labs assume a formal high-school chemistry lab is available, with analytical balances, spectrophotometers, pH meters, fume hoods, suction filtration setups, etc. etc. Few homeschool families will have access to that kind of setup. In fact a lot of public high schools don’t.

So we’re going to go our own way. We won’t call the new kit “AP Chemistry”. We’ll call it “Advanced Chemistry” and cover what we think needs to be covered. We’ll certainly cover the key topics in the AP Chemistry lab curriculum, but much else besides.