Since I have been homeschooling for 13 years now I’ve used a lot of different resources and curriculum. So I though it might be useful to start posting some curriculum reviews, especially some of the less well known things I’ve used. One of my favorite things to use for science is the LHS GEMS series. GEMS stands for Great Explorations in Math and Science, and these are relatively short, stand alone booklets on a specific science topic. There are over 70 guides on all different subjects, so there is bound to be something interesting for everyone. I think for science it is very important (and fun too) to do lots of hands on activities, because if you just focus on text books science becomes boring. LHS GEMS teacher’s guides are nice because they are organized and easy to use, and don’t take any specialized knowledge. We can usually work through one of the guides in a week or so, which makes a fun break from our normal routine.
This year my son has been studying chemistry, so we have done a few of the chemistry GEMS. We recently finished the Chemical Reactions guide, and Of Cabbages and Chemistry. They are designed for the classroom, so some things have to be modified for a home setting. Plus you do have to put the supplies together yourself, and sometimes I have had to order chemicals or supplies. For the Cabbages and Chemistry book we didn’t need any special supplies, we just made cabbage juice from a red cabbage, and tested the pH of various household chemicals. We improvised and used shot glasses for test tubes.
The next one we are planning to do is Vitamin C Testing. For this we need to buy a chemical to use as a Vitamin C indicator, but it only costs about $6 to order. Or we can make our own indicator using cornstarch and iodine, which would be educational in itself, so we will probably do that. The Vitamin C Testing GEMS is currently out of print, and is available as a free download on the website here, so if you are interested in checking the curriculum out it would be great one to download and look at. I’ll post how well our homemade indicator worked in a few weeks. After we finish Vitamin C Testing we are going to close out the year with Crime Lab Chemistry, which teaches about chromatography. So if you are looking for something more than a text book to use for science check out these booklets.