Oh, science. Homeschools moms seem to love it or hate it. Why is homeschool science such a touchy subject?
It could be because we aren’t sure how to pull dissections and Bunson burners off at home, or perhaps we still remember the formaldehyde smell of high school biology, but whatever the reason some of us just don’t like doing experiments.
The supplies, the mess, and the cleanup are all just a little too much. However, there are ways for your science-inclined child to get their lab experiences without setting up a lab in your kitchen.
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Why Worry with Homeschool Science Labs?
Most often, homeschools moms worry about experiments and labs because we think we “have” to do them. Are experiments a necessity of life? Of course not, but there are very good reasons we should consider adding them to our homeschool.
The most obvious reason to conduct experiments in your homeschool is that they’re fun. What kid doesn’t love to mix baking soda and vinegar? Kids love the opportunity to make a mess and call it learning.
You have a science-minded child.
Everyone is different, and sometimes you have that child who loves to tear things apart to see how they work, or maybe they are enthralled with the working of the human body. They love it and you know that is the route they will be heading in future studies. Experience with science labs may be needed for them to reach their future goals.
It’s a requirement.
Not the most compelling reason, but sometimes labs are a requirement. Does your child want to attend a college or university with high science standards for admission? Do you need to meet requirements for your state or accredited homeschool program? There are instances where we just need to meet a requirement.
But I Hate Homeschool Science Experiments!
I get it, not all of us love science experiments. Some homeschool moms love hands-on science and they do a fantastic job of handling the mess and the explanations.
But we’re not all Ms. Frizzle and that’s okay!
So let’s consider some alternative ideas for giving some of that lab experience to our children without setting the house on fire.
Outsource the Homeschool Science Labs
The most obvious way is to outsource science, especially the labs. I’m all for DIY homeschooling, but there are times when it’s just better to have someone passionate about a subject matter teach your children. Unfortunately, our preferences will come through no matter how hard we try to hide them.
However, did you know their is a hybrid option for high school science?
College Prep Science offers two-day science lab intensives. So you handle the course work and then your child can attend a lab intensive to get the hands-on experience.
What I love most about this idea is that your child has the opportunity to dive deep into the subject matter and not have their time cut short. However, the awesome thing for mom is that it’s one weekend of driving instead of week after week of short trips to a local class.
As a mom who is doing A LOT of driving this year, I’m sold!
So how does this work? Greg Landry is a former college professor, homeschool dad, and homeschool teacher of over 20 years, whose passion and background is in science.
There are two labs available: Biology/Anatomy & Physiology and Chemistry. Each two-day intensive is equivalent to a full years credit of high school science labs. There is also the option of completing both labs over three days.
So even though we’re not interested in dissecting a frog anytime soon, our children can have that hands-on science experience.
*note-this is a Christian faith-based program.
Consider a Virtual Science Lab
Technology is an amazing thing and we have so much available to us today, why not take advantage of its resources? Virtual labs are also wonderful for a child who has a moral or value-based reasons for not wanting to engage in a dissection. (I have one who feels this way.)
Some biology/anatomy options are:
- Frog Dissection App
- Dissection Lab App
- Organism Dissection App by Carolina Biological Supply (6 organisms included)
- Mammalian Organ Dissection App (kidney, brain, eye, and heart)
- iCell app
Biology seems to be best suited to apps and virtual labs, but there are also websites such as:
- PhET, which offers online physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and math simulations.
- ChemCollective virtual labs is “designed to help students link chemical computations with authentic laboratory chemistry.”
- Annenberg Learner has interactive lessons in all areas of science.
These offer various types of scientific virtual labs and simulations. Whatever topic you’re studying, simply search on the internet and you’re sure to find many virtual lab options.
Science Documentaries with Curiosity Stream
We recently discovered Curiosity Stream and I love the ease of this option. Also, it’s not just science, there are documentaries on limitless topics. Whether nature or astronomy, biology or physics, you can certainly find whatever science topic you’re interested in on Curiosity Stream.
What I love most about this service is that it’s extremely affordable, and there are no exorbitant DVD late fees like at the library. We can also start and stop whenever we like.
They also have one of my favorite shows on there, Innovation Nation, which is history and science rolled into one. Homeschool perfection.
YouTube for Homeschool Science
Another option for your children to get their experiment fix without you having to don a lab coat is YouTube. As always, be careful because it’s not all child-friendly, but there are some great channels that demonstrate scientific principles in fun ways.
As I was pulling this post together, I was a little distracted by The Backyard Scientist. He has some interesting videos such as pouring molten aluminum in a watermelon and building a giant mousetrap.
Another channel is Home Science, which has “various experiments, chemical reactions, tricks, optical illusions you can do at home.”
You can also check out Sick Science! by Steve Spangler and HooplaKidzLab for even more video science fun. However, sometimes these science videos lead to your kids conducting their own backyard experiments, which is not a horrible thing but might defeat the mess-free idea.
Looking for more easy science ideas for your homeschool? Check out:
Visit Museums, Demonstrations, and Field Trips
With a little research, you can probably find some amazing demonstrations, museums, or field trip opportunities near you that may provide some experience with science labs. Here are some ideas on where to look:
- Science Museums
- State or National Parks
- History Museums
We’ve had some amazing science experiences just being by aware of what is offered in our community.
We’ve visited the local rock quarry, dissected decaying logs at a watershed event, and we have plans to attend an artisan craft fair at a local history museum where there will be a demonstration of aluminum casting. We’ve seen a Tesla coil in action and held sea urchins.
So check out what’s available in your area and explore the homeschool science options in your community.
Homeschool Science When Hate the Smell of Owl Pellets
Honestly, I find most scientific topics fascinating, and we’ve done the homeschool classics such as Mentos in Coke and dissecting owl pellets (ewww, the smell!) However, I’m asking for trouble if I hand my kids scalpels.
Instead, I look for options that introduce us to these science concepts without the mess and safety hazards.
Hmmm, maybe I should find those extra, hidden owl pellets.
Be sure to head over to College Prep Science to enter to win an online science class. Options include:
- College Prep Biology (grades 8-12)
- Life Prep Biology (grades 8-12)
- College Prep Chemistry (grades 9-12)
- Life Prep Chemistry (grades 8-12)
- College Prep Physics (grades 10-12)
- Life Prep Physics (grades 9-12)
- Pre-Biology and Pre-Anatomy & Physiology (grades 6-9)
- Pre-Chemistry and Pre-Physics (grades 6-9)
- Exercise & Sports Physiology and Forensic Science (grades 8-12)
- Human Anatomy & Physiology (grades 9-12)