September 6, 2017

Exploring Creation With Marine Biology from Apologia {Curriculum Review}

Exploring Creation with Marine Biology from Apologia~ A review
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I love the ocean. It's my favorite place to vacation at. I really enjoy learning all I can about the ocean and the life it holds. Our favorite documentaries include the ones exploring our vast seas. I recently had the chance to review the newly revised Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries--and by I, that's what I mean! Because this a high school course, I chose to review this curriculum myself!

About Marine Biology from Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia Educational Ministries is a best selling publishing company in the homeschooling world. They are especially well known for their amazing science curriculum which is written from an Intelligent Designer point of view. They offer a full line of elementary science options, as well as full credit lab science courses for the high school level. One of their most popular courses for the high school level--and newly revised!-is the Marine Biology course.

The Exploring Creation with Marine Biology (2nd Edition) is a newly revised take on their previous best seller. It is even more user-friendly and is full of full color diagrams, illustrations, and real life photos. It is available in an easy to use Exploring Creation with Marine Biology (2nd Edition) Advantage set (on sale for $96.75) which includes:
✓Tests-and-Solutions Manual
✓Student Notebook

This is all your child needs to begin their full year lab science curriculum--however, because this is a lab science, they will also need to own the Marine Biology Slide Set, Biology Dissection Kit tools (used in Biology), and the Marine Biology Dissection Kit to complete all the experiment included in the course.

Senior high science curriculum in the Exploring Creation series from Apologia includes:

Marine Biology
Advanced Biology
Advanced Chemistry
Advanced Physics

Make sure you visit the website to learn more about the Exploring Creation series from Apologia Educational Ministries.

My Thoughts on Marine Biology and Apologia

Let me start by saying one of the reasons that I asked to review this course, is because while I have had extensive use of the elementary science curriculum, I was pretty clueless of what their high school curriculum contained. I really wanted to know what the high school science was like for the future. I knew the best way to determine this was to experience it myself. And I always enjoyed school and looked forward to having a "class" for myself.

When the product arrived, I was blown away by how much we were given. Not only did we receive the Advantage set, but they also included the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD! What a generous gift to all of the reviewers! Although I didn't have time to immediately begin the program, I set aside time to look through the text introduction to get a feel for it was designed. I want to share with you how the program is set up before I jump into my experience with it.

This product does NOT come with a teacher's manual, because it is intended to be an independent course. The first several pages of the text talks about how to use the books included, and the student notebook even gives a great lesson plan schedule for working through the course at a steady pace!

Sample pages to look at before beginning
The introduction advises that the text contains 16 modules and advises that each module should take you about two weeks to complete working 5 days a week 45-60 minutes a day. At this pace, it is determined that the course could be completed in 33 weeks.This makes it easily a one year course.

The Modules Include:
  1. The Oceans of Our Planet
  2. Life in the Sea
  3. The First Four Kingdoms
  4. Marine Invertebrates I
  5. Marine Invertebrates II
  6. Marine Vertebrates I
  7. Marine Vertebrates II
  8. Marine Ecology
  9. The Intertidal Zone
  10. Estuary Communities
  11. Coral Reefs
  12. Continental Shelf Communities
  13. The Epipelagic Zone
  14. The Deep Ocean
  15. Ocean Resources
  16. Effects of Humans on the Sea

there is a study guide and exam on each of the 16 modules. The exams and answer keys for the Marine Biology course are in the included Tests-and-Solutions Manual. The answer key clearly breaks down the exams noting the desired answers and points for each answer.

Text Tips
The book also explains some things to guide the student as they study, noting that there are two sets of exercises that should be completed: The On Your Own questions which should be answered as the text is read (demonstrates mastered concepts) and the Study Guide questions at the end of the module which prepare you for the test. The course text adds the tip that you should memorize any information that is centered in the text and put in boldface type, as well as all definitions.

Experiment Information
The experiments in this course are woven in through the module lessons and are to be completed as the lessons are done. All the documentation for the experiments can be recorded in the student notebooks (at the back in the experiments section). All the experiments are described in the text AND in the student notebook with easy to read and find supply lists and steps to follow. There are 3 types of laboratory exercises included in the Marine Biology course: microscope labs, dissection labs, and household labs. The microscope and dissection labs require additional materials that can be purchased from Apologia. When the experiments are completed, there is a rubric for determining your experiment score included in the text.

Extra Learning Aids
Like the other Apologia science books, Marine Biology includes information for extra material to aid you in your studies. There is a special website that can be visited for the course which allow you to explore modules in greater depth. The links and codes are provided in the text.

So let's talk about the course and how I attacked it.

There is sooooooo much information. While this text is written in a much more narrative form, it is still a TEXT and full of scientific vocabulary, definitions, diagrams, illustrations---what you would expect in a text. I about had a brain overload just the first day of reading the text--clearly I've not HAD to read one in a long time! LOL. I am a reader and a very detailed note-taker. This meant that my student notebook became my "brain" where I was recording as much information as I could to remember and use later. I pulled out colored pencils and pens and went to town.

I actually enjoy taking notes. But trying to determine what to remember from this text--gave me fits sometimes. So I stuck with the advice in the introduction--go for the definitions and bold face print first. I added some of the drawings to my notebook too.

I was able to complete all the experiments in modules 1 and 2 through the course of my review. They were all household experiments and I had the supplies for all (except 1). Because some of them were "easy" and I had already had experience doing them for my own sons in their science, I simply wrote about them in my lab section. But here are some photos from some of the experiments I did:

Module 1: Mountain Formation from Plate Movement

Documentation of plate Movement Experiment

Module 1: Effects of Salinity and Temperature on the Density of Water

My Supplies for Module 2: Respiration

Module 2: Respiration (watching the yeast breathe)

Module 2: Osmosis 
The only experiment I didn't have the supplies to do was the Module 2: Photosynthesis because it involved a water weed that I couldn't get from any local stores. But--the exact experiment is available for observation on YouTube several times. So I watched a couple of those and then documented what occurred.

At the completion of Module 1, I filled out the study guide, looked over my notes a couple times, and then attacked the first module exam. The questions began with vocabulary definitions, and then the rest of the exam was open ended questions that mixed actual text information with comprehension questions. I discovered as I was studying that I did not have the same memory power I did back when I was in high school and college! But I did reasonably well on the study guide, so I was fairly confident about the first exam.


Taking one of the module exams
I got a 66%! I do wonder how much a professor would have docked me on a few questions, but I was merciless to myself. The grading process was easy since the solutions told you how much each question was worth, AND underlined the information that ABSOLUTELY needed to be included. (The definitions were my downfall!) It was a great learning experience though for my boys to see that even Mommy doesn't get things correct all the time. They rejoiced in my low score. LOL. Silly boys.

Thankfully, the module exam and scores on the experiments are put together for the total module score--but even with my "perfect" experiment scores, I only pulled 77% for the module. I would NOT have been happy with that back in the day. But with my mom brain and zillion other things I have going on--I'm pretty good with it. LOL

Let me stop and talk about grading for a moment.
The grading process IS supposed to be done by a parent or adult and not the student. The student notebook and solutions books both spend time talking about HOW to grade, including providing formulas designed for this course. There are also rubrics, and grade recordkeeping pages. I appreciated this. It IS an independent course, BUT it also is a graded course for proper credit and GPA calculation.

While I'm speaking about exams--there are 16 module exams and there are also 4 quarterly exams (every 4 modules). The final grade is calculated based on the 16 module grades (experiments + module exam) with the 4 quarterly exams. This then provides TWO semester grades since this is a ONE YEAR course.

Now--let's chat for a moment about the audio book that they sent.
This is such a blessing for any student who doesn't do well just reading a text. I did the first module with just ME reading the text and then did the second module following along in my text listening to the audiobook. WAYYYY better! The narrator's voice is very pleasing to listen to and not dry or monotone. Because I don't have an mp3 player, I had to put the cd in my laptop, but that was fine. Each of the tracks on the CD are marked
The record-keeping page for grades
with NUMBERS--the first number denotes the model. The next number coordinates with the section in the module. For instance, module one has 16 tracks--each one begins at a new header within the unit. Hence the reason for 16 tracks since there are 16 different headers (or sections) within the module. If I need to find the track for the Plate Interactions in Module 1, I find the track labelled 01004. 01 is for the module, the 004 is for the 4th section in the module. I would PREFER them to be labelled by the section header name--but once you figure out the labeling it's not that difficult to get where you need to be. I am definitely using the audio book for the rest of the course if I choose to complete it.

As I mentioned earlier, there are three types of experiments. The microscrope experiments begin in module 3, at which point you will need the microscope AND the slides that coordinate with this module. The slides can be purchased. The dissection portion of the experiments begin in Module 4, and the dissection kit will need to be purchased by this point.

THIS IS A LAB COURSE which makes it fabulous for a high school credit. But this also means there will be some investment in the supplies needed. Because I am not going any further with the course at this time--not experiment wise anyways, I am not moving ahead with purchasing supplies at this time.

So let's summarize.
This is a heavy course and absolutely worthy of a full year science with lab credit--as long as your student does the lab work. Biology is a PREREQUISITE for this course and after working through the first chapters, I absolutely agree. I have had several biology courses from high school and college, but it would have been easiest to do if I had JUST completed one before attempting this course.
Love all the scriptures that are throughout the text!
This course will work BEST with a student who CAN work and stay on task independently. It is an intensive course!

The course is designed for 5 days a week of science--I don't know that I would necessarily have a schedule for science like that. Right now we tend to do three days of science. But once we get to the high school level that may change. But this is definitely an intense science course. I ended up taking about 2 weeks to do each WEEK of science. And that was still a lot of science! LOL

If you have a student who isn't a strong reader--or does well with audio books in general--I highly recommend the audio book addition to use with the text. I am a strong reader, but I did much better following along with the audio book.The coursework is fantastic and the full color illustrations, diagrams, and photos make it even more visually appealing. The viewpoint is one pointing to God as the Intelligent Designer (yay!). I have enjoyed every minute of what I have spent on this course and I am DEFINITELY saving it for my sons who also have a love of all things marine biology. This course has also provided me with an in depth look at what a high school science from Apologia looks like--and I love what I see.

Want to Know More About Marine Biology from Apologia?

Over the last several weeks I have been reviewing the high school course Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries. You have now read what my thoughts are on this fabulous curriculum, but I encourage you to check out other review crew members who actually had their students use the product--or those who went further into the study!
Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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I have greatly enjoyed the time I've been spending learning more about God's ocean and marine life. I hope that I am able to spend a bit more time going through the text because it is very interesting to me...but if not, I will tuck it away until my boys are older--and then maybe work on it with them in the future!

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