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Experiences in Physics: A High School Physics Lab Manual Review by Karen Braun

Kathleen Julicher
Castle Heights Press
5649 Temerity Way
Bulverde, Texas 78163

In its catalog, Castle Heights Press boasts that its material will enable you to do good science at home: elementary or high school. When I read that statement and held the Experiences in Physics lab manual, I wasn't exactly convinced that this would be true.

The cover states that the book includes lab instructions, lists of materials, questions for critical thinking, applications to the real world, and an answer key. It is designed to enable a high school student to grasp the complex concepts of physics by performing lab experiments. With all that, you would think the book would be two inches thick and weigh twenty pounds! In fact, the spiral bound notebook is less than an inch thick and under 80 pages. But surprisingly, the manual delivers. It truly is a complete lab manual for physics that can be incorporated into any high school curriculum no matter what textbook is selected.

The 32 experiences begin with a lesson on measurement and units. As the manual progresses, all the basic topics in physics are covered. The authors stay true to their premise that "a homeschooler has limited resources and is best served by experiments that use common materials whenever practical." My boys had fun trying out some of the experiments on velocity and acceleration. The materials listed for those included a toy car, stop watch, and a small ramp of wood or cardboard. The item most difficult to find might be in lesson 5, "an energetic attitude". But somehow with this manual, I don't think even that would be too difficult.

The lessons are about three pages long and the experiment's objective is clearly stated. The procedures are clearly laid out and designed to be done with little supervision. The lessons end with a series of questions for the student to answer.

The author does an excellent job tying the material to some of the more difficult math concepts found in advanced mathematics and calculus. Any student who completes this manual along with physics textbook will be amply prepared for college level work.

My only improvements to this wonderful manual would be to allow extra pages between lessons for notes. The manual is non-consumable and the lessons don't have enough space to jot down notes for future reference. That, along with a protective plastic cover, would make this resource complete.

-- Product Review by: Karen Braun, Contributing Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC