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We have a lot of interesting conversations about the best way to learn science in my house. My fiancé is a scientist who was raised by two scientists. I’m an educator who never knew anyone with a phD, let alone a scientist, when I was growing up.
To my fiancé, science is the most natural lens for understanding the world. To me, science was often a tangled mess of concepts I struggled to connect to explain anything concrete. I once asked him what he thought about how educators typically teach science to students, and what he said stuck with me.
He said that most science courses don’t give learners the opportunity to feel what is most exciting about scientific work. Instead of rigidly following the steps of the “scientific method,” he said, real scientists follow their curiosity in an exploratory way, using their knowledge of the fundamental concepts to guide a much more crooked path of investigation.
This presents educators with a tricky problem: how do we make sure learners gain the fundamental knowledge they need to understand scientific problems, while helping them fall in love with science through messy discovery?
At Prisma, we’ve built our middle school science curriculum to blend both. In our interdisciplinary themes, learners build an understanding of foundational concepts through missions and explorations at their level. Then, they engage in project-based learning to conduct investigative experiments, design solutions inspired by a scientific problem, or represent their understanding of science in a creative way.
As a homeschooling parent, you have the unique opportunity to inspire a lifelong love of science in your middle school learners, plus prepare them for rigorous high school level content.
However, with seemingly infinite homeschool science curriculums available, finding the best one that caters to different grade levels, includes engaging hands-on activities, and aligns with your worldview can feel like an overwhelming task.
This comprehensive guide is here to assist you as you make your science curriculum choices, providing in-depth considerations and recommendations for the best science programs available.
When selecting a homeschool science curriculum, there are several questions to ask yourself:
An effective middle school science curriculum should provide a mix of foundational knowledge, demonstrations, and experimentation.
Essential middle school science topics include:
Scientific concepts are best understood through watching them happen. Make sure any homeschool science curriculum you choose contains ample opportunities for learners to visually see examples of scientific forces and processes. Demonstrations can take the form of videos, animations, or be done live by an instructor, parent, or the learner themselves.
Any effective curriculum should incorporate multiple and varied science labs. These labs should cover the basic science topics but also involve learners in the scientific process. At the middle school level, it is essential that science experiments include observing results and conducting data analysis. This is important for success in high school level science, plus, it’s a great way to bring math into the process!
When choosing a curriculum, it's important to understand that ways of teaching science have changed dramatically in recent years based on new research. Traditional science methods you might remember from school often focus on rote memorization of facts.
However, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) focus on a multidimensional approach to science education. This approach emphasizes both understanding the fundamental principles and encourages the application of these principles. These standards incorporate much more engineering than traditional science curriculum. NGSS-aligned curriculum is a good idea if you want your middle school learner to be prepared for STEM careers.
Inquiry-driven science curriculums encourage learners to ask questions and seek answers, fostering a love for learning and developing critical thinking skills.
Project-based curriculums, such as the interdisciplinary themes at Prisma, involve learners in long-term projects that integrate different science concepts.
Problem-based curriculums engage learners by having them solve real-world problems using scientific knowledge and reasoning.
Prisma’s science program has been built from the ground up by our team of curriculum designers. Over the years, we’ve experimented with integrating tons of science resources into our middle school themes. Here are some of our favorites:
The best homeschool science curriculum for middle school and high school learners is the one your family likes the best. By taking the time to research and (ha!) experiment, you can create a science program that not only meets your educational goals, but also inspires a love of science in your children.
With the right curriculum and resources, you can empower your learners to develop a solid foundation in science that will serve them well throughout their educational journey and beyond. Happy homeschooling!
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