Frequently Asked Questions about this course
This course has no prerequisites. Students who have had some junior high science or world history may find the course easier than those who have not had much science or history yet, but a dedicated student should be able to complete all course work satisfactorily.
You should understand how to express decimal fractions, proportions and ratios, and have a basic introduction to solving an equation, so that you understand how to calculate Fe if you have an equation in the form Fe = kQq/r2 and you are given values for k, q, Q and r. Otherwise, we do some work with graphs and tables of data, but no knowledge of the quadratic equation or trigonometry is necessary.
This is hard to answer without knowing how fast you read and how good your study habits are. For each discussion session, you will need to
- read and be prepared to discuss my online Web Lectures for both the history and science sections of the course
- read and be prepared to discuss additional Web-based readings (this varies with the topic)
- write a short essay (less than 200 words), which you will post to the Moodle bulletin board prior to chat,
- complete a mastery exercise with questions involving identification, single-word answers, matching, multiple choice selections, or short math word problems with simple calculations.
Over the course of the semester, you will also need to
- write and deliver at least one class presentations
- do any review necessary to prepare for semester examinations
My experience is that this will take most students about 4 hours to finish properly, including drilling on the historical facts (which scientist did what) and scientific theories. If you read slowly or have to do a lot of drill work, it may take you longer. In addition, after we meet and discuss the material, you will need to take
- a short on-line quiz at the website (15-20 minutes)
You may also opt to take do labs, which will involve another 1-3 hours per week of your time, depending on what equipment you need to build or collect.
So each week, you should plan to spend 1.5 hours in class, 4 hours in preparation, and 1/2 hour in testing, or a minimum of 6 hours a week (8 with labs). A normal junior high physical science class or introductory high school general science course requires a minimum of 4 hours of class time (including lab time) and 2 hours of homework. This course is more intense that a normal junior high school science course because of the history component, so it requires somewhat more effort on your part.
I send evaluations at the end of each semester that describe your performance on quizzes, homework, class participation, and the final examination. A short summary of this report is included in your formal transcript "comments" section.
A "passing" grade assumes that you have achieved at least 50% for freshman (higher for upper classmen) or better on the semester examinations, chapter quizzes, attendance, and participation in discussion and homework solution sessions. In other words, if you are a freshman, and you average 50% on the quizzes and score at least 50% on each semester final, you pass the course. A senior might need 65%; I would expect a senior to bring to essay questions more penetrating analysis techniques, and to be able to associate historical facts with knowledge gained outside this course.
Because your transcript may be used by government agencies, accrediting institutions, and scholarship committees and compared to students in other institutions, I will issue a numerical score for your work that is normalized so that it fits the grading scale used by most high schools in evaluating passing, above average, and exceptional work at the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior levels. While the numerical grade is more precise and more schools rely on these, we also issue letter grades. Your transcript will include instructions on how the grades reflect the level of your work..
We spend one unit on creation stories in the first year of this course, and one on theory of evolution in the second year. If you have concerns about my presentation of this material, please see my evolution page where this question is answered in detail.
There are three common ways to fit Natural Science into a homeschool curriculum. These are:
- for the student concentrating in humanities, or one with less background in mathematics, Natural Science in the 9th-10th grades, Biology with the lab option in 11th, and optionally Chemistry or Physics in 12th. [This will meet most college entrance requirements for at least one year of lab science, and provide sufficient background for a student to take introductory college level science courses.]
- for the student wishing a more thorough preparation in the sciences: Natural Science in the 8th and 9th grades, followed by Biology in 10th grade, and then Chemistry or Physics in either order in 11th and 12th grades.
- for the exceptional student wishing an intense preparation in the sciences: Natural Science I in the 7th grade, Natural Science II in 8th grade; Biology and Astronomy in the 9th and 10th grades, in either order; and Chemistry and Physics in the 11th and 12th grades, in either order.
More information is available at the Scholars Online Science Sequence page, including descriptions of the organization and design of the curriculum.
Yes, I do write letters of recommendation for students. However, I cannot write such a letter on the basis of a few months' work. I require that you finish a complete year of instruction with me first, so that I have a basis for making an evaluation that reflects your true strengths and weaknesses. If this is your first class with me and your senior year, I may not be able to write your letter.
© 2005 - 2021 This course is offered through Scholars Online, a non-profit organization supporting classical Christian education through online courses. Permission to copy course content (lessons and labs) for personal study is granted to students currently or formerly enrolled in the course through Scholars Online. Reproduction for any other purpose, without the express written consent of the author, is prohibited.