Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exploring Creation with Astronomy (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

We are an astronomy family.  Stargazing and learning about what is outside of our own little world in this universe is something that is a major family affair.  I've mentioned before, my living room is a jungle of telescopes and other astrophotography equipment and many of our friends are people that we have met through amateur astrophotography groups.  We had originally bought the 1st Edition of the  Exploring Creation with Astronomy book and notebooks but unfortunately, the notebook had an unfortunate meeting with a cup of red Kool-aid and we were unable to finish our studies with it.   When we were given the opportunity to review the brand new Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition from Apologia Educational Ministries,  I knew our family had to be on it.

For this review, Apologia was extremely generous and provided members of the crew with not only a copy of the 2nd Edition of Exploring Creation with Astronomy but also with copies of the recently updated 2nd Edition Astronomy Notebooking Journal (for students grade 3rd/4th through 6th grade)and the 2nd Edition Astronomy Jr Notebooking Journal (designed for students K-3rd grade, depending on their writing level).  Icing on the cake was the inclusion of the 2nd Edition Exploring Creation with Astronomy Audio CD.

About Apologia  and Exploring Creation with Astronomy

Apologia is a company that almost every homeschooling family has come to know and trust. The number 1 publisher of Creation-based science and Biblical curriculum, Apologia caters to grades K-12.  Their offerings range from their "Exploring Creation" Science series, various Bible and Worldview selections, language art options, High School Geography and Civics curriculum and even planner and devotionals for the homeschool mom.

Revised and updated earlier this year, the Exploring Creation with Astronomy 2nd Edition takes the award winning textbook by Jeannie Fulbright and makes it even better.  Twelve years after the original, Jeannie Fulbright has partnered with NASA engineer Damian Ludwiczak to invite a new generation of students grades K-6th to once again explore the outer reaches of God's creation. Broken down into 14 Lessons, the book explores astronomy starting with the sun and working it's way outward as it goes into great depths about our planets, the Kuiper Belt and dwarf planet and ends with space exploration and whats beyond our own solar system. Included in each lesson are various activities designed to help students understand what they are learning.

Gone with the first generation are the small, low resolution photographs and graphics which have now been replaced with  large eye catching graphics that provide a much better visual explanation than the previous version.  The graphic to the left is a lesson in regards to the tilt of the Earth and how it influences the seasons as seen in both the 1st and 2nd Edition.  While providing the same information, the 2nd Edition's graphics are much more visually appealing.  Also included is now information in regards to advancements made in the last 12 year since the 1st Edition was published. Students can now learn about Curiosity's voyage to Mars, Cassini's mission to Saturn, and Messenger's final images before crashing into Mercury.

The updates Notebooking Journals are also much more visually appealing than the previous edition.
 Rather than a majority of basic black and white pages, the new journals are also in full color with graphics of planets, stars and galaxies throughout.  Both the Notebooking Journal as well as the Jr Notebooking Journal include activities and notebooking pages for all 14 lessons - the only true difference between the two as far as I can see is that the Jr Notebooking Journal substitutes coloring pages for many of the more advanced "What Do You Remember" review pages as well as using primary-rules lines to make copy work and other writing activities more friendly for students who are still developing basic writing skills.

The final component of the newly revised edition is the 2nd Edition Audio CD. Perfect for students who are audio learners as well as those who like to hear narration while following along in their text book, this recording includes the complete text of the book read aloud by the author, Jeannie Fulbright.

How We Used It

For this review, I used the book a bit differently than I would typically use a text book.  Rather than starting from the beginning, we started from the back of the book and jumped into Chapter 14 which was about the Stars, Galaxies and Space Travel.  I opted to start with this chapter because we brought our textbook with us while camping for a week in Yosemite National Park and I thought it would be a great way to bring our learning out of the classroom while giving us a PERFECT opportunity to see the sky without light pollution.  We also brought along our small telescope to do a bit of viewing of the objects we were learning about.  Can you think of a better place to learn about God's creation then in one of the most beautiful National parks in our country?

So as the sun went down, the kids and I would gather around on our picnic bench and we would read aloud from our text book.   It was a full family affair as the together we learned about how to find the Big Dipper in the sky and then to use it to find Polaris, the North Star.  We also talked about the International Space Station and had the wonderful opportunity to see it as it passed overhead.

Chinese CZ-7 Rocket breaking up over Yosemite National Park
However, I will say, the book did not prepare us when we saw a really bright light in the sky.  At first,
we thought it was the ISS once again passing over head but as it grew brighter, we could see it breaking apart in the sky.  We knew it was some sort of "space junk" and discussed how old satillites and rocket parts are pulled back to Earth due to gravity, but wasn't til we left the park a few days later and had cell reception that we found out it was the remains of a Chinese rocket reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

Our space exploration didn't stop once we returned home, however.  Many a nights, we took to our dark front yard and looked up at the sky, looking for various constellations in our night sky.  I don't want to know what my neighbors thought as the entire family would stand outside in our driveway or in the street, looking up at the sky. We are very blessed that living in the Mojave desert, we have fairly dark skies for the kids to observe what we were learning about.  Each night, before bedtime, the kids wanted to head outside and look for what we were talking about in the textbook, whether it was finding the Milky Way, the conjunctions of the planets, or just making sure they could still find Polaris.

One of our many Star Gazing Nights
We also had a great time using the extras found on the website (you will need to purchase the text to gain access to these extras).  Using many of these extras led to some really interesting learning.  Probably most memorable was the kids reactions to learning about the "Space Potty".  We also learned a lot about the special exercise requirements astronauts in space have.

We also used the Notebooking Journals along with our lessons.  Originally, I had planned to allow Garrett to use the Jr version but decided since the differences were slight, Ashleigh would enjoy the coloring pages more than Garrett would. (Garrett hates coloring pages!!) Each notebook includes activities such as crossword puzzles, pages to document results of experiments, lapbooking style "matchbooks" and various copy work pages.  I really enjoyed that the copywork pages included in both journals included both print and cursive pages, as the kids are currently learning to write in cursive. These copywork pages are based on scripture and ties Astronomy in with God's creations.  I highly recommend the notebooking journals to accompany the textbook as the activities are well thought out and really help with reviewing the materials being learned.

#hsreviews #apologia #astronomy #homeschoolscience

We absolutely love Apologia.  It's a company that I know I can trust to provide quality educational material without questionable content that goes against my beliefs as a Christian and with the newly updated Exploring Creation with Astronomy, my husband and I can continue to share our love of the Heavens with our kids.

For more information about Apologia or the newly revised Exploring Creation with Astronomy, be sure to visit their website or any of their various social media sites:

Twitter: @apologiaworld

99 Members of the Review Crew were given the opportunity to also review the Exploring Creation with Astronomy 2nd Edition. Click the banner below to read their reviews. 

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition Review

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