Make Middle School Science EASY with Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition (Curriculum Review)

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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Today, I am thrilled to be able to share an updated course, 
from our favorite Science Curriculum:

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If you are doing any type of homeschooling, then you have heard of Apologia, as they are seen as one of the Top Christian Science curricula available, and offer a full spectrum of science curricula, from Kindergarten through High School, for all students, no matter HOW they learn! Miss Grace has used their popular Exploring Creation series for 3 years, finishing with Human Anatomy and Physiology this past year. So for this year I was initially looking at combining both their Exploring Creation with General Science and Exploring Creation with Physical Science books. But I should have known the great thinkers at Apologia were already ahead of me! So when I was offered the chance to check out their newly REVISED and UPDATED Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition, I was THRILLED, as I knew they had just made 7th grade science easy peasy for me and Miss Grace!

Now I do have to give you a caveat, as after agreeing to review the product, Miss Grace and I actually reached an impass, at the end of the school year, with her thinking she wanted to go back to 'regular' school, and me thinking homeschooling the upper grades was just NOT going to happen. Anyone who tells you that homeschooling through puberty is EASY, is avoiding a lot of hard truths. There I said it. When your smiling child's hormones take over, it can be VERY hard to keep on the homeschooling path. You start to understand why parents who send their kids to school seem to have more sanity! LOL. So in the end, we opted for a one month break, instead of continuing year round, to offer her a chance to breathe and think what she truly wanted. Which, unfortunately, was our review period for this product, so I pulled our names off the list before it was sent to Apologia. SIGH... But God has his ways, and through an accident, my name stayed on the list, and a package soon arrived in the mail (you heard God laughing? Yeah we did too!), So my Crew leaders, and I, decided, I'd just to do a comparison of the previous edition, and the new one, for you instead. So this is more of a comparison than actual use review.

general science book covers

If you are familiar with Apologia's science curriculum, then you know that the book on the left above, is their 2nd edition, of the middle school Exploring Creation with General Science book, aimed at  homeschooling science for 7th graders. The anatomy picture on the cover lets you know that it is the more biology based of the 2 book middle grade set. As you can see, the cover has been updated, to now showing the world as primary, as the contents HAVE changed as well!

The textbook has been majorly changed in it's CONTENTS. I decided it might be easier to show you a table of shared content from the General Science 2nd Edition, and what was pulled from the Physical Science 2nd edition (8th grade science):
comparison chart
As you can see, many topics were pulled from the Physical Science 2nd edition text, and others were dropped out. Apologia did confirm with me that the Physical Science book IS also being updated, and they hope to have it out next year, so that kids who used the 3rd edition this year, can segue way into it. But in looking at the chart, I feel comfortable moving Miss Grace into the High School Biology class next year, as she covered Anatomy last year, and skipping the Physical Science update. She can cover those missing topics, from Physical Science, at the end of the school year, this upcoming year, as our schedule would leave enough time for her to do so. IF we decide to continue homeschooling.

exploring creation with general science set

I was sent the Basic Set for Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition, which consists of the hard back Student Text, spiral back Student Workbook and the softback Solution/Tests manual. So those are the pieces I will be talking about below. 

exploring creation with general science text samples
This updated Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition text book has been rewritten, to better help your student transition from their elementary curricula to their high school one. It not only takes a format they are familiar with (more of a conversational format), with the author talking directly to students, versus a dry informative text. But it also adds in so much more information about not only the history of science, but real-world relevance of scientific inquiry, the beauty of creation, how modern science has changed and evolved, and a broad overview of all the different aspects of the scientific fields of study! 

Even if your student has not used any of the Apologia courses, this detailed and engaging book will not only teach them what science encompasses, but also how to utilize the proper scientific method, to report on the science they see and work with in the book. If you look at the sample, you can see how much more engaging both the text and pictures are, to kids raised on social media. Every part of the text book has been updated, to make the book more engaging to kids. The third main change is the course redesign is its daily work. It is designed to be done 4 days a week (as compared to 2 days a week for their elementary series and 5 days a week for their high school courses). Each chapter is laid out in a way that really lends itself to this change, and the breaking up of the chapter and testing. I'll return to this when we talk about the workbook, but let's keep looking at the text.

exploring creation with general science experiement samplesIf you look at the experiment page (right), you can see that by adding just a simple illustration, and formatting the instructions differently, the experiment looks more engaging. The experiments are the same, where applicable, based on the same included topics, but they just seem more interesting by how they are laid out.

But the experimentation is different, in that the book takes a MUCH longer look at HOW we record data (a much needed skill that they will need for later college entry testing!) and make interpretations, versus the elementary series- which focused on additional experiments, for fun and understanding. In this book, students have an experiment that thoroughly shows what is being taught, and the focus is on the proper scientific recording of it. A change that gets them ready for high school level science labs, as well.

exploring creation with general science on your own samplesAs you can see on the left, the On Your Own, sections are also highlighted differently in the text, letting the student know there is a break in the text, and a chance to do something else, in their notebook (more on that in a minute). This is familiar formatting again, for those coming from the elementary series. Miss Grace has always liked these, as they offer a chance to experience the science being taught first hand, and that is ALWAYS a better learning experience, that STICKS in student's minds!

exploring creation with general science study samplesThe differences also abound in the first couple of chapters that are meant to TEACH kids how to take notes! Text is highlighted in red or bold, so that they know they should be taking notes of it. That info will also be in the included Study Guide section, that follows each chapter. As you can see (right), the Study Guide sections have also been updated and are more eye-friendly. Miss Grace looked at them and said she was much more comfortable with the style of the new book.

Another way they differ, is that those first couple of chapters teach more than just science- they teach SKILLS, like better test taking. Their tests are meant to be OPEN book. This is to get your student ready for an upper level test, instead of just throwing one at them, from the beginning. Apologia understands that you have not been giving graded tests in elementary years, and that this might be a big adjustment for middle school students! I know for Miss Grace it will be, as I've let her give me oral answers, or an oral presentation, versus taking tests, to see how well she has mastered info she has learned!

Something else that is different, is the final chapter, which is actually a final project! Students get to build a Rube-Goldberg machine, incorporating scientific principles they learned throughout the year. Step by step instructions ARE given (don't panic!), as well as dialogues with modern scientists, about how they see God in the science they observe and do! And that IS what makes Apologia different- they include creation science in EVERY volume, but it is woven in so well, that is natural, and makes SENSE, to kids raised in religious homes! 
general science workbook

The Student Workbook continues to be a very important accompaniment to the Student Text, just like the elementary series workbooks were, but the difference is that its goal is to TEACH your student about note taking and documentation. For those kids who hated all the cutting and pasting, this will be a relief! LOL. The Student Workbook starts off with a section explaining HOW the book is different, so your middle schooler can understand the changes. 

exploring creation with general science workbook samples 1
The course schedule is color coded, so your child knows when they have reached the end of each module. Plus, each day has CHECKBOXES, so your student can check off when they finish each of the day's assignments, right ON the schedule itself! Isn't that a great idea? Again, the course is aimed at 4 days a week, and you can see how it gets broken down, for about an hour each day of reading and doing work in the notebook or experiments. Miss Grace will probably still try to keep to the 2 day schedule, as she prefers college style block scheduling, but with it broken down this way, I'm hoping testing and quizzes will be a third day. 

exploring creation with general science workbook samples 2As you can see some of the note taking is prompted right ON the page, so kids get an idea of WHAT they are supposed to be writing down. Other sections use graphics FROM the text, and allow kids to plug in the missing pieces, to help them understand what NEEDS to be learned. 

Another great thing about the Student Notebook is it's Creation pages. These allow your child to think on issues being talked about, and write down how they relate to the Creation story-by supporting it, confirming it, etc. I love how Apologetics is brought in!

Students also get the quizzes and sample tests in the workbooks as well. This allows for them to retake a quiz, and to really help with their notetaking, and to see what they have missed, and to better their focus.

Now before you go, "But wait, WHO grades all those quizzes and tests? Do I have to take the course too?", Apologia knows Science may not be your forte, and has the 'answers' for you (pun intended)!

exploring creation with general science solution and test samples

The Solutions and Tests book gives you ALL the answers for those study guides, quizzes and tests, from the textbook and workbook, as well as providing you with a copy of the final tests for each chapter! Now as you can see (above), even the tests have been changed around, from the previous edition. Miss Grace had looked at those older tests and moaned (not with glee), as they were pretty dry in scope.

exploring creation with general science test samples

But as you can see, the updated version matches the new text, and not only are they in an easier to read font, but are laid out with more multiple choice, T/F questions and graphics. As these type of questions tend to be more of the type of questions asked for on later college entrance exams, this is a great way to get your child used to them! Miss Grace looked at the new test booklet and thought it was for a totally different course, as that is how different they look! So yes, you truly CAN grade this science course like a pro!

Besides the set I reviewed above, Apologia also offers it in 2 other cost saving sets:

- Their Advantage Set also includes a MP3  audio CD, that is a full recording of the Student Text, perfect for auditory learners and those with reading issues, to hear the text. 

- The Super Set also includes a video instruction thumb drive, that features Sherri Seligson teaching the course, using visual animations and on-location video clips, which is perfect for visual learners!

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Overall, this update has been AMAZING. none of the great content was lost, just put into a better laid out format, that really gives your student a much better homeschool science for middle school curriculum, that not only teaches about the many aspects of science, but how to become a better notetaker and learner! We love curriculum that is multi-faceted , and know your student will love Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition as much as we do too!

To see how my fellow homeschoolers have started using the course, be sure to click on the picture below, to check out their reviews!

Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition. {Apologia Reviews}
Apologia runs many sales and special events during the year, like a webinar tomorrow on the need for High School Physics and this special download:
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These and some amazing educational links, are ALL are posted on their social media sites,so you should really follow as many as you can:

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