Nothin' 2 Prove

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Friendly Chemistry

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Did you see that?

 Friendly and Chemistry together in one title?

Yes, you did indeed read it correctly. 

Webster’s dictionary defines "friendly" as "easy to use or understand", "serving a beneficial or helpful purpose", and my favorite, "not hostile". Now I imagine there are more than a few folks out there for whom "Hostile Chemistry" would be more like what they remember. But not this time. This program is so friendly I caught my 12 year old Morgan curled up with it in bed like a good book!

Now, she was overjoyed to learn that we would be reviewing this program, because she has been wanting more of a challenge in the science realm. With a mom who is a veterinarian, and a dad with a Biology major/Chemistry minor, our children were destined to wallow shamelessly in the field of science. It’s been a bit of a challenge as they have gotten older to figure out how to present the concepts they are really ready for when they are normally written for a much later age group, but after reading about Friendly Chemistry, it looked like a perfect fit. While it covers material presented in a typical High School chemistry course, it is presented in a way that even Jr. High aged kids can grasp the concepts. The main prerequisite is knowledge of basic algebra skills. Now Morgan hasn’t been through algebra, but has been introduced to pre-algebra concepts, and is a bit like her mom in the fact that math concepts seem fairly easy to grasp in a "practical and useful" format. So I feel she won’t have much problem with the math application in this respect. I’ll continue to update how we are doing as we use this course, and problems we may encounter with using this before high school and algebra.

So far, I’ve been amazed at the ease at which Morgan has picked this up. I was a bit intimidated by the second lesson in which I turned the page and the periodic table jumped out at me. Remembering my own struggles with memorizing the elements, I had a bit of trouble believing that the games included would really be enough to teach this. I was really surprised at the speed and ease which Morgan learned the elements from playing the bingo game, and using the flash cards and worksheets provided. My ultimate thrill, however, was when she recited the chart to Daddy, and how his face lit up as he quizzed her. Almost as cool was the fact that I finally memorized that chart myself, and my 8 year old Taylor couldn’t help but pick up most of it too as she joined in our bingo games.

The hands-on experiments such as dissecting of a marshmallow, then burning it into ashes, then re-examination for purposes of showing the basic element carbon, are nothing short of genius. For each and every concept explained in "simple English", I just keep thinking, "Wow, why didn’t I think of that?" LOL.

One of the most exciting and best days we’ve experienced so far, however, has been the day that Morgan pre-read Lesson 3 material before I had, and as I sat down to look over it to present it, she proceeded to give me a lecture on Quantum Mechanics. Yep. She taught it to me instead of me teaching her. Then when Daddy got home, she hit him up too. His face lit up again, and he was so very pleased!

We have had to adapt the program to teaching only one student, as many of the activities and examples are written for a classroom or group. While we don’t have access to a homeschool coop where we live, we do have a group that I have been greatly motivated to offer to teach this to. This is the most perfect program for a homeschool group or coop that I have ever laid eyes on! But we have really enjoyed it with just one student as well.

We aren’t rushing through this program on a real schedule, because I want to give Morgan a chance to really enjoy and grasp this. We just started using the Doo-Wop board (Lesson 4) after breaking for the holidays, and I have again, just been amazed at the brilliance of introducing electron orbital arrangements and ionization in this way!

Joey and Lisa Hajda are really great folks. I have been in email contact with Joey a few times in clarifying instructions or just conveying my excitment about our experiences. He is always great to reply, and I have found him to be every bit as personable as his program. These guys have homeschooled 10 children of their own, and both have outstanding academic portfolios themselves. No wonder this program is so friendly and successful!! Thanks Joey and Lisa, for sharing your awesome talents with us!   

We’ll keep ya posted on our progress…. in the mean time, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and order your Friendly Chemistry and get started!! And if you know of any coops or groups out there , it would be crazy not to let them in on this remarkable program!  Get it here!

Until my next update,

Go learn some science with (or from, LOL) your kids!

Chris

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Ok, so we figured out the Doo-Wop board (wasn’t so hard), and used our "Doo-Wop Mania" cards to describe the arrangement of electrons in an atom of the particular element on the card.  Morgan got a great feel for the way electrons orbit the nucleus in energy fields of the electron cloud of the elements. She became proficient at "reading" her Doo-Wop board, and noticed on the cards the different "notations" and began trying to figure those out too. I told her that was probably lesson 5, so we looked ahead a bit and found it was. She is anxious to read lesson 5 tomorrow!

Chris

Friday, January 30, 2009

We’ve been working hard on the next 3 lessons learning "the code." Lesson 5 deals with the first notation: orbital notation. Lesson 6 builds upon those skills, teaching electronic configuration notation, and lesson 7 describes electron dot notation. Morgan is currently hard at work practicing these notations, and looks forward to being able to use these arrangements to predict reactivity in Lesson 8 in the next couple of weeks when she feels ready to move on.

Until then, go notate some electrons with your kids!!

Chris

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One thought on “Friendly Chemistry

  1. We just started using this curriculum a week or so ago, and it was great to read your review and see what is coming up. After reading your thoughts on this, I'm really encouraged to continue, even though it's been many years since my own high school chemistry course! Thanks for all the detailed information.

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