I, personally, love both this book and the Apologia Physical Science book. The author uses a pleasant, conversational style. The material is very interesting, and the experiments are mostly easy to do. Best of all, most of the questions cause the student to go beyond memorizing. These texts' questions are formulated such that the student must obtain a clear understanding (beyond simple knowledge and memorization) of the concepts and be able to analyze and problem-solve. Therefore, the material is learned and retained. Yay! My 13 and 14-year-old sons though, hate these books. They are weak in science except in the areas of "pre" physics and technology. They are great readers yet these texts are difficult for them to comprehend. The author often goes off on tangents making it difficult to discern his point. The books could use more graphics to assist the student in forming a mental image. Hymnwriter and author Isaac Watts, 16th century, in The Improvement of the Mind, adamantly agrees. I called Apologia's help phone, left a message (which was happily returned the same day!) and spoke with one of the online teachers. He first said that students have to be good at and well prepared in math. My boys are. Next he suggested that since they like and can learn physical science a little more easily, that we skip general science and go straight to phys. science. "They're probably bored," he said. So we tried a couple chapters of phys. science --no improvement. This year, I still want to do these courses because students are taught to think, but we'll try again with a phys. science chapter they might like AND use the DVD classes as well as continue to build their knowledge with chapters from another curriculum's books. For us, though, it's impossible to do a chapter in just 2 weeks as is recommended and as is needed to complete each text in a year. A month is more like it it. My sons also are not keen on the experiments and lab reports since they have to put a lot of time into just studying the chapter. And I'm confused about how to do the lab reports. I need some examples. If we bomb again this year, we'll use another curriculum for the remainder high schoool. Right now, I'm simply confused.
As many others have said, the first chapter was quite dry and for those of us who have a Charlotte Mason - Living book preference, this was disappointing. After the first test which was names/date/matching, I felt like I might need to revamp the way we use the course and our grading. Fortunately it improved from there tremendously. Just as we had in Jeannie Fulbrights Apologia, my daughter was reading interesting facts that she would come share with excitement. The experiments were easy to do. My only complaint would be that I would appreciate a heads up if an experiment needs to sit for a week to be ready to gather data. So I guess now knowing that I know that I would say read ahead so you can start any experiments that take time to develop so they will be ready and you can stay on schedule. Lastly, the Companion CD worked on our MAC computer using Snow Leopard.
Here is the thing...WE LOVE APOLOGIA! We really do, but we found this science curriculum to be difficult for us. My son is 13 and really loves science, but this did nothing for him. The first chapter is VERY dry, and although after that it did pick up, it was still rather difficult for him to get in to. Some chapters were better than others, but it is VERY reader intensive and some of the reading seemed redundant to us. Dr. Wile seemed to go off on a tangent here and there and my thought was "get to the point already". I know my son was disappointed because we very much enjoyed the Zoology series, which kept his interest the entire time. If you have a self starter, focused and attentive child who is okay with spending about an hour a day reading the material (which was sometimes dry), and then was okay taking time to do an experiment, then this curriculum would be great for you. For us, it just didn't keep his attention for that hour it took. BTW, at the end of the year, he BOMBED the SAT and IOWA science portion of the test (but got a perfect score on the Language Arts SAT :) ) My point is, he is a good student but retained very little of science. I contacted my h/s advisor and she said that it is because Apologia tends to be specific as opposed to building on ALL parts of science (like life, physics, chemistry, etc.) which is taught in most other books. For many, that doesn't matter because they are teaching to the student and not the test, and I get that, but I don't know that I will be homeschooling my son through high school, and I don't want him going to high school completely clueless in science.
Anyway, for what it is worth, that was our experience with it. I wrote this review simply because I wish that this was brought to my attention by other reviewers who all seem to love this General Science Curriculum, and that's awesome, but it just fell flat for us!
This text was great. My family liked the easy experiments and the fact that it related to "real life" situations. The author wrote with a personal touch and sense of humor. The first chapter was a bit "boring" to get through but it did form a foundation of the beginning of science and showed that some beliefs for many years could actually be wrong. This foundation makes students understand that even adults can be wrong but it also shows how science should be understood. Past the first chapter, my daughter (who has never liked the subject) often came to me with conversations of interest beginning with "Mommy, did you know.." This makes me thrilled because I know what she found interesting will stay with her longer than being forced to learn through a text that is boring!