The high school science dilemma
Deep breath. We (my husband and daughter and I) decided to look at what we wanted most in a first high school science class. We decided to start with biology. We wanted it to have labs, but ones that were doable at home. Our daughter did not want it to include dissection, and we wanted it to be something she could do on her own without a class, for both financial and scheduling reasons. We also wanted it to be both from a Christian perspective and challenging scientifically.
With those criteria in mind, we found five different science curriculum options that we would be okay with and let our daughter look at each of them. Since she was the one who would be doing the work, we decided she would have the final say in this decision. Without hesitation, she selected Devotional Biology, from Compass Classroom. A year later, we are thrilled with her choice. Let me tell you why.
Kurt Wise is the instructor for the Devotional Biology series. Dr. Wise has his MA and PhD degrees in paleontology from Harvard University. He is a strong Christian and a young earth creation scientist. He taught biology at Bryan College for 17 years and has taught it at Truett McConnell University for the last seven, where he also founded and directs the Center for Creation Research. He is also a leading researcher (and the one who coined the term) in the field of baraminology, or "created kinds", about which our daughter had become fascinated after a family trip to Ark Encounter in Kentucky several years ago. Hearing his connection with baraminology was part of what made her adamant about using Devotional Biology this year!
To access Devotional Biology, you either need a premium membership to all of Compass Classroom's classes and products ($39 per month, or $390 per year) or you need to purchase the class ($155 for either streaming/download access, or for the DVDs). Either option also gives you access to all of the materials digitally, including the textbook, lab manual, and Teacher's Guide. Because we are old school, we opted for all of the printed books as well ($110 for all three). We also bought the Lab Materials ($140 without a microscope, which we already had).
The labs included are challenging, but not overwhelming. Early labs are more observational, with a focus on observing nature and learning to write a lab report. Later labs get into more technical topics such as DNA structure, photosynthesis, and mitosis and meiosis.
The video sessions are paired with the portions of the textbook that they match, and are guided via Compass Classroom's online platform that keeps track of completed assignments. My daughter has found it works better for her to watch the videos first, during which she will take notes using the Cornell Note-taking System, but students can read first and then watch the videos as well.
Test questions are provided in the text book with thorough answers in the Teacher's Guide. They are completely short answer and essay based. There are over twenty per chapter, and what I have been doing is giving my daughter a selection of short answer and essay questions to choose from for each chapter's test. I appreciate these being in a form that requires more thought than just a multiple choice exam.