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I have been asked this question so many times by homeschoolers, parents and grandparents! The answer is yes but not necessarily the type of equipment I bet you are thinking of! Do you have plastic and metal containers? How about some vinegar, oil and baking soda? Perhaps some magnets, corks, rubber bands, and other household items? You probably don't realize that you have quite enough in your house already to start doing experiments at home - without all the expensive lab equipment. I suggest a few really good books that help you do experiments from home.
- The Usborne Big Book of Experiments
- Science & the Bible by Donald B. Deyoung
- The Way Things Work by David Macaulay
- Science - Just Add Salt by Sandra Markle - Scholastic Discovering More
- Science Secrets by Sandra Markle - Scholastic Prize Winning Science Fair
- Projects by Penny Raife Durant - Scholastic Men of Science
- Men of God by Henry M. Morris
- The Usborne Book of Science Experiments Usborne Essential
Ok, this all sounds great for elementary school children who are learning basic science. What about the highschooler who needs to seriously study the sciences or complete dissections in biology? For these children I suggest the following items and will break them down by subject area for you.
I would look for a Chemlab 1100 set. These are nice complete sets that include the scales, vials, and chemicals that will take you through many experiments. According to the number on the various Chemlab sets, i.e. 1100, you should be able to complete that number of experiments. Granted that there will be variations of the same experiment counted as a separate item, you should still be able to complete a great deal of different experiments. Cost? This set runs just under $50 but let me tell you how to get it for half that! Yes, half price it what I said! If you have a Michael's craft store near you then you have hit jackpot! At least 3 times a year they put out a 50% off anything in the store coupon. Well, Michael's carries all the Chemlab sets plus other school type items. (Bulletin board items, info posters, stamps, stickers, etc.) I have been told that some of the Northwest Fabrics & Crafts also carries the Chemlab sets and have the same 50% off coupons too. Check other craft type stores in your area to see if they carry this and then look out for the coupons! (Worse to worse - buddy up with a friend who is near one of these stores and ask them to get this kit for you!) For additional beakers, tubes etc. please see next section about Blue Spruce Co,
The first thing that comes to mind here is dissection! Eww, what fun eh? But seriously folks there can be so much learned in a few dissections. First I would have to say the marvelous way of God's wonderful creations and the complexity of it all. Your children will learn the importance of order and relation as well.
If you are using a major curriculum such as Bob Jones, ABeka, or Alpha Omega you will notice that their catalogs include dissections kits and offer specimens as well. This is the more expensive way to go. We have found the best prices for biology equipment and specimens from Blue Spruce Biological Supply Company. They supply to many public and private schools and have now had a special 'Home School Science Catalog' for a few years. The prices cannot be beat anywhere!
Included in their Home School Science Catalog are: specimens, dissection equipment, living specimens, life cycle studies w/live specimens, prepared slides, microscope accessories, labware, magnifiers (for bug/plant study), entomology (insect nets, pins etc.), magnets, and even health and safety equipment. (Which includes a blood pressure cuff, stethoscopes, goggles and aprons.) You can request the Home School Science Catalog for free from their website or call 1-800-825-8522.
I do not suggest picking up road kill for your experiments though I have heard of many homeschoolers doing so. Jut remember that if your cat gets a rabbit and you decide not to just bury the poor thing to take precautions and wear gloves. Wild animals can carry rabies and other diseases while science specimens are raised in a secure environment. Specimens are not expensive and you could do a great study with a dissection kit, worm, crayfish, grasshopper, perch and frog. Total cost would be around $11 for items I just mentioned.
For more advanced study (to make sure you cover each animal/insect kingdom) you can add items such as a clam, squid, dogfish shark, and fetal pig. (All 9 specimens are included for only $10.) If you have a more advanced student, Blue Spruce offers Zoology type specimens of a cow eye, and a sheep brain/kidney/heart. I see that they now have packages specifically tailored to ABeka, Bob Jones and others.
Okay so dissection may not be your cup of tea but you still need to expose your children to it to see if they might have a desire to it. You might want to try something on a more smaller scale if you are a little squeamish. Perhaps try with examinations of prepared slides and work your way up to studying live protozoa! Then you could advance to real dissection the next semester. You say that you don't have a microscope? That you can't afford $200 to buy one? (Blue Spruce now sells a real metal microscope for $140!!!)
Please consider the following options that you can use.
- See if you have an area science store that rents microscopes
- Shop garage sales for those dusty microscopes that parents did buy!
- Call the school district to find out when the district sale/auction is (June-July). You can get some really good things at these like desks, chalkboards, & equipment!
- Consider going into a co-op to buy 1 really good microscope with members of your homeschool group. If 10 people went in together, it would only cost each of you $14 a piece. Put names in a hat and pull one at a time to get the microscope for a 3-week period. Plan your lessons around your microscope week!
- What to do the next year? Rent it out to others in your group for the same $14 per 3 week period. Once you have enough rentals, go buy another microscope for the group or other science equipment to share/rent.
For this, I have to say that if you have a handy husband or relative around they are bound to have a lot of the equipment needed. Such garage type equipment finds are: pulleys, C clamps, batteries, washers, ball bearings, wood scraps, fishing weights, rubber stoppers, clay, protractor, glass prism, ruler, heavy cord (clothesline), tubing (like from an old fish tank you don't use anymore! lol) and other items. Special equipment needed would be for more complicated experiments and I suggest trying a company that Alpha Omega suggests, Home Training Tools 1-800-860-6272.
They offer all the other equipment you could possibly need to do all necessary physics projects. Prices seem reasonable to me except for the specialty equipment. Remember from the following sections to look at garage sales for these things. This too would be another great area to check and see if the local science store rents equipment. Finally, go and co-op with a few friends or homeschool group members. Maybe the rentals from your microscope the 2nd year could pay for a complete physics kit? If there is a will there is a way to accomplish anything and do it within your means. Now, you may ask, do I NEED a physics kit to fully explain principles of physics? The answer is no you don't. If you have the above garage finds, you would be well on your way to completing at least 20 good experiments. I suggest investing and going further only if you have a scientific college bound child. Not everyone will be attracted to science but the exposure to find out is still our responsibility as parents. I know that many of you are scared about teaching these upper grade science courses. Please don't be scared or hesitant! Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and know that God will show you how to expose your children to this wondrous world he created!
These types of experiments can be fun and exciting. Make predictions ahead of time of what each family member thinks will happen. Then do the experiment and see who was on the mark! The prediction part of experiments is perhaps the most important in getting the analytical minds thinking and the logic ticking.
Reasoning, predictions, expectations - these are all qualities not bound to only science but to all of our everyday lives! If science never appealed to you when you were in school, let go of all those old feelings. It may have been the teacher, the materials or a boring presentation! Science is fun and most definitely shows God's order and reasoning. To study his creation, how it works, and how it all relates to each* other will give you a closer look at and bring you closer to understanding the loving creator of us all and our world. God Bless and I pray that you will find new interest in science and renewed hope that YOU CAN teach it!
Home Training Tools
Nature's Workshop Plus! 1999 Catalog
1-888-393-5663 firstname.lastname@example.org They sell Apologia Science books & materials, many science and nature books - get the catalog and there is bound to be something in there that you have been looking for!
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