By Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
This book is a DIY guide to Biology, which is great both for homeschoolers or for anyone who just wants to learn more about biology by doing real, hands on lab work. I have homeschooled my children for years, and I love most science, but not biology. Biology is one of those subjects that I have never been enthusiastic about, although ironically enough my oldest daughter is now majoring in biology in college. But I was not looking forward to doing biology twice more with my other two kids, until I received this book.
I have always though of biology labs as things like dissecting a frog (yuck). But this book doesn’t have experiments like that, it has experiments on air pollution testing, investigating bacterial antibiotic sensitivity and my favorite, extracting and isolating DNA. These sound interesting and educational! Even better this books shows how you can do these experiments without spending too much money. As the book explains, there is a trade-off between time and money, so it tells you the minimum you need to get by, and then ways you can do it easier if you are willing to spend more money. You can use a pressure cooker as an autoclave, or a disposable foam cooler as an incubator. It even explains how to turn a Dremel Mototool into a centrifuge if you decide to do some very advanced experiments. The explanations are detailed, and the authors are very safety conscious and practical.
One thing you have to buy or rent that isn’t cheap is a microscope, and the books contains advice on what to look for based on what you are willing to spend. I dug out the microscope I bought 5 years ago and was relieved to see it is the exact one they recommend for a basic budget user. Another thing you will need if you are homeschooling is a text book, since this book really is just labs. I am planning to use the free biology book available on ck12.org, and I will probably also use the Glencoe Biology textbook I used with my oldest daughter. The authors also provide a basic lab kit which is available from www.thehomescientist.com if you want to have a convenient way to order all you supplies.
I have used and loved the authors’ Chemistry book, Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science), but I honestly did not expect to like this one as well, just because it isn’t my favorite subject. But now I am actually excited about doing Biology, and looking forward to it! I decided we are going to start the using this book now, because it seems too interesting to wait. So we are going to learn to use the microscope, make slides and mount specimens over the summer, and have fun with this book.
Disclosure: I received product to review, all opinions are my own.