Monday, June 26, 2017

{Review} General Chemistry - Novare Science & Math

Homeschooling high school science can be difficult, even for a science major like myself. I have struggled each year to find the right curriculum match for my not-so-scientifically minded daughter. Countless hours have been spent researching options for high school chemistry with only vague parameters from my high school daughter.

Overall she is fascinated by chemistry and occasionally voices the desire to go through the most in depth course available. The next day she might be in a dysautonomia flare and decides she needs easy to understand concepts. One course I ran across in my research when flipping through a Memoria Press catalog, was General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math.  I honestly had never heard of this company, but if our favorite classical curriculum company was listing it, then I was going to put it on my research list.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)

I can't even count how many times I have visited the Novare Science & Math website checking out descriptions and going over the samples provided. Their General Chemistry book looked exactly like the kind of chemistry I would want to take (and did take).  Yes, it does require at least algebra 2 to complete many of the calculations in the lessons and question, however that was not a concern for us, since Amber had already completed algebra 2.  Still, I was not sure if this was the course for Amber, since she wavered weekly on the type of chemistry she wanted to study. It wasn't until we were offered a chance to review the Novare Science & Math General Chemistry text that she made the firm decision to try a standard chemistry course.

Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry

We received the hard back text book for review, along with a special digital download of their physical Resource CD.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)

General Chemistry book - A 404-page standard style text book covering every topic you would expect from a general high school chemistry class.  There is no accompanying teacher's guide, so the book starts with a preface for the teachers to document the student audience, views of the author, and recommendations for teaching the text. Novare Science & Math does use a Kingdom view of the world when teaching science, which was a positive to us.

While the preface to the teacher states that laboratory work is essential for every high school chemistry class, the textbook does not come with laboratory assignments. There is an accompanying experiment text for homeschoolers, Chemistry Experiments for High School at Home, as well as The Student Lab Report Handbook. Both are valuable resources to turn this text into a full high school chemistry lab course.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)

Each chapter of the book is written in an informative tone with plenty of details to explain every single topic. The pages are peppered with color graphics and models to assist in explaining the information and to break up the lengthy text. Complete steps are shown for all example problem calculations, although the student still needs to be familiar with the math concepts.

The chapters end with a set of exercises that cover the topics of the individual sections in the chapter. Some questions require writing descriptions of information given, while others are require calculations. The back of the book does have answers to selected exercises from each chapter; these are mostly the exercises that require calculations. It does not include the complete solution, but just the final answer to help your student ensure they are on track.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)

Resource CD Content

We received a downloaded version of the companion Resource CD for General Chemistry. It includes:
  • Quizzes over select sections of each chapter
  • Chapter exams
  • Term exams
  • Answer keys for all quizzes and exams
  • Answers to the verbal questions (basically, anything that isn't a computation)
  • A lesson schedule to keep you on track for the year

Between the suggested answers to the written exercises in the Resource CD and the answers to selected exercises in the textbook itself, I had a pretty good handle on grading Amber's assignments. If you need more help with the math based exercises, Novare Science & Math also has a companion Solutions Manual that shows the step-by-step procedures for the computations.

Our Experience

Amber had already finished her scheduled science for the school year when we began this review, so it was a new and fresh topic for her to be excited over. We had to make a few decisions though about how we would approach this class. In the end, we decided to forego experiments for right now. I know it is not ideal, but Amber already has all of her required laboratory science classes for high school and we do not have the majority of the supplies required to complete the experiments in the companion experiment book.

Amber found she really had to concentrate to understand the readings and it was very slow going for her. There was not much of this course that she could do independently, even though she had already completed physical science, biological sciences, and algebra 2. Thankfully, I had enough experience with chemistry in college that I was able to teach her the concepts in a way she understood.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)

She worked hard to get through the exercises for each section, but they were often a struggle for her. The computational questions turned out to be the easiest for Amber, unexpectedly. There were many questions where I just asked her to explain her answers verbally since she couldn't seem to get the words out. We talked through the questions and she eventually came to an understanding. Still, it was extremely laborious for her.

Our Thoughts

Personally, I think this is a fantastic high school chemistry text and it is exactly what I would pick for my high school student - if she was a carbon copy of me. However, she is not scientifically inclined and really struggled through this. She is interested in scientific topics, yet her mind works in languages and not science.

Review of Novare Science & Math - General Chemistry (High School)
She was trying to explain back to me what she had read. It was a difficult day.

Although the General Chemistry text alone does not provide the means of completing a full laboratory chemistry class, Novare Science & Math does have a complete line of associated publications to support the General Chemistry text.

General Chemistry is well suited to science minded students who have completed at least algebra 2. Students who struggle with science may find this course difficult and will need the support of a good tutor or parent who can spend time working through the exercises & lessons with them.


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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed a variety of products from Novare Science & Math including the General Chemistry we used. Please follow the link in the graphic below to read the reviews on:

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