Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Apologia Marine Biology (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Recently, my daughter graduated from high school.  From the start, she had all intentions of continuing her education by attending college following her graduation, however, unbeknownst to us, the school she attended only provided enough credits to meet California state requirements for graduation and then possibly community college but did not meet the requirements for acceptance into a traditional four year university. This put a mighty big wrench in her plans of attending the university that she was originally planning on applying to. Because of this, we found ourselves adding her to our home school for a "gap year" in order to complete the three classes that she needed for her transcript - 1 laboratory science, 1 math course and 1 foreign language course.

When we were given the opportunity to review Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries, I knew that it would be an answer to fill the requirement for the needed science course while also providing Christian based learning.  An added plus was that it was a subject that she would enjoy diving into that she had not been offered in her public school setting.

What We Received

The Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage set includes the following:

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Textbook - The updated, full color 557 page hardback text book includes not only the advanced level core lessons but also includes various laboratory experiments such as microscope exploration and step by step dissection instructions.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Student Notebook - This 505 page, full color,
spiral bound, soft covered workbook provides students with a daily schedule to keep track of lessons and suggests how much material the student should cover each day, provides outlined notes for the student to fill out while reading the text, questions that are answered not only straight from the text but also require deductive reasoning based on the information that has been covered in the text, and ample space for notes and results from completed experiments. An optional summary of each module is also included for students to use as preparation for the module tests.

Solutions and Test Manual - A 211 page black and white softcover book that contains the correct answers for the module study guides.  It also contains both module tests as well as the answers for the tests, making grading tests simple.

While not included as part of the Advantage set, members of the crew also received:

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Test Pages - This booklet contains all the tests required for the Marine Biology course.  These are the same tests found in the Solutions and Test Manual, however, the answers are not included, eliminating the chance of a student possibly looking up the answers.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD -  Read by Marissa Leinart, this CD contains MP3 audio files of the entire course textbook.  This is not a regular format audio CD but is in MP3 format (meaning it must be used in a device that can read MP3 such as a computer).

About Marine Biology

Marine Biology 2nd Edition is the newly released version of the course written by Sherri Seligson and is for high school students who have already completed a general high school biology course prior to starting.  It is part of the Exploring Creation science courses that most people associate with Apologia.

The text itself is broken into 16 Modules.
Module 1- The Oceans of our Planet
Module 2 - Life In The Sea
Module 3 - The First Four Kingdoms
Module 4 - Marine Invertebrates I
Module 5 - Marine Invertebrates II
Module 6 - Marine Vertebrates I
Module 7 - Marine Vertebrates II
Module 8 - Marine Ecology
Module 9 - The Intertidal Zone
Module 10 - Estuary Communities
Module 11 - Coral Reefs
Module 12 - Continental Shelf Communities
Module 13 - The Epipelagic Zone
Module 14 - The Deep Ocean
Module 15 - Ocean Resources
Module 16 - Effects of Humans on the Sea

Each of these modules should take roughly 2 weeks per module to complete if students spend 45
minutes to an hour each day in their studies. At this pace, the course should take roughly 33 weeks to complete.   So long as students complete at least 80 percent of the course work as well as all of two of the three types of included labs (whether it be experiments, dissection or microscope work), then students can be awarded a full laboratory science credit.  This course can also be listed as an advanced course on the student's transcript if all modules are completed and all labs are completed and documented in the notebook and all tests are taken and grades recorded.  Separate purchase of both the dissection specimens as well as the required microscope slides are required in order to complete these components of the course (the course assumes one already has a microscope and dissection kit from the prerequisite Biology course).

The text itself if vibrant and fresh - with clear photographs and graphics and an appealing layout, breaking the material down in such a way that it's not overwhelming.

Relevant vocabulary words as well as definitions are clearly marked out in vibrant colors to point out their importance.

How We Used It

Since Alyssa is a high school graduate and has plans of attending college, I thought allowing her to use this curriculum as independent study would be a great introduction to self discipline and good study habits with very little instruction from myself. So right now, my involvement in this course is simply keeping the box containing a clam, star fish, coral, sea sponge, brine shrimp eggs, and a fairly large dogfish shark in my closet, helping her locate items needed for labs, and administering and grading the tests.

Alyssa had really enjoyed having the Daily Schedule which is found in the student notebook, which breaks down the lessons for a five day week schedule.  Being able to check off her lesson each day and seeing what is coming up in the immediate future has really helped her stay on course and to know what she needs to get done each day.

This early in the course (she's on Module 3), labs have been very simple experiments.  Most experiments have required simple items typically found in the house.  For example, one of the earlier experiments to demonstrate mountain formation from plate movements required only a rectangular clear plastic container, a cup of salt, a cup of unbleached sugar and a spatula.  Another experiment on desalination of salt water required salt, water, a saucepan and a bowl. A third experiment in regards to the motion of waves only required a bathtub filled with water, a small floating boat and a piece of wood in which to create water movement.   A full list of all required lab supplies are listed in Appendix C, allowing to plan ahead for each module to be sure to have supplies on hand when they are needed.

Alyssa's typical routine is to complete her coursework shortly after she wakes up, while she's enjoying her morning coffee.  We have taken full advantage of the MP3 CD that was so generously included in with the course books.  We uploaded the MP3s to her MP3 player, which allows her to pop her headphones on and follows along in her book while listening to the recording.  This helps her greatly with pronunciation with larger, more confusing scientific terms that she otherwise would have difficulty pronouncing on her own.  She said she found Mrs Lienart very easy to listen to and having the MP3 helps her to concentrate on the text better than trying to read it on her own.  While I personally don't plan on taking the course - I do think that I might eventually listen to the MP3 recording as well just because I personally find marine biology fascinating.

After listening to and reading the text, she then tackles the student notebook. Again, each assignment is listed in the Daily Schedule, letting her know what pages to complete in her notebook.  Assignments include questions, definitions, diagrams, note outlines, pages for experiment results and study guides for upcoming tests.

 One thing that I really appreciate about the textbook, as a parent, is that each dissection has step by step instructions as well as photographs and diagrams to help with the specimen.  I mention this because many times, dissection projects require purchase of separate instructions for each specimen and are not included in the text.  Having the instructions as well as the graphics will be extremely helpful when we finally get to those portions of the text.

A second thing I personally really appreciated was the Solutions and Test Manual.  When grading tests, the manual makes it very easy to know exactly how much to weigh each test question, making grading her tests very easy. I simply compare her answer to that listed in the manual and then look to see how many points to either award or deduct from the final total. So if she missed a question that was weighed as two points and a question that weighed as 1 point and there are 22 questions on the test, I would know that she received 19 out of 22 and can calculate her percentage based off of that.

In Her Own Words

"While some of the early material covered was stuff I already knew from other classes I took in school, I am learning quite a bit. The text is written well and the format is much like any other text book you would find in a science class. So far, much of the material is basic biology as it works up towards the more specific material that focuses more on Marine Biology.  My one complaint is that I wish there were more space for writing answers in the Student Notebook. At times I find that it's hard to fit all the information in the space provided. The experiments are well thought out, many of them I had already done in previous science courses which tells me that the material, had I taken this class in public school, would have been similar as well. The questions in the notebook are sufficient for preparation for the tests on each module - some of them are straight out of the textbook while others require me to actually apply what I've learned to scenarios provided. The tests are short but sufficiently test over the material. They are relatively easy if you understand the material out of the book and are straight out of the book. I'm looking forward to the dissection labs, especially the shark (which I have named Bruce!) since my high school was underfunded and dissection labs were rare to do, much less cool specimens like sharks. "

Final Thoughts

This curriculum fits our needs for a laboratory science credit perfectly, especially since we will be completing all experiments, microscope work and dissection labs.  Having the separate test booklet which allows for me to allow Alyssa to write directly in the booklet, keeping her graded tests conveniently in one place for my own records works well for us. It's also convenient to have all her labs and notes in the student notebook.   Once she has completed the entire course, I can then generate a final grade for her and award her an advanced science class on a second transcript I can then add in addition to her high school transcript.

For more information about Apologia Educational Ministries as well as Marine Biology 2nd Edition, please visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/apologiaworld   @apologiaworld
Twitter: www.twitter.com/apologiaworld   @apologiaworld

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

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