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Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition Review by Lisa McClanahan and Kathy GelzerBy Dr. Jay L. Wile and Marilyn F. Durnell
Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220/340
Anderson, IN 46106
High school science is one of the subjects I sometimes worry about. There is no way our home can compare to a school laboratory, and that is why I make sure to use quality curriculum in our school. Apologia offers a wonderful selection of science courses, and my two high school daughters have been using Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition.
Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition comes with a hardbound textbook, a 4 disc set of Video Instruction DVD, a Student Notebook, and Solutions and Tests books. Not only does this course study life it covers genetics, evolution, microscopy, biochemistry, and so much more. Two of my girls are only a year apart and they work on a lot of subjects together and they decided they wanted to work through Biology together too, so I purchased an additional Student Notebook for one of my girls. Additional supplies and equipment can be purchased to complete the labs, but they are not needed to complete the course.
Apologia Biology is a college-prep course that is very easy for students to be independent learners and keep all of their work organized. The student notebook contains a daily schedule with assignments for five days a week lasting 34 weeks. The textbook reading assignments are written to the student in a conversational tone. The vocabulary words are written in bold type and there are diagrams, pictures, photos of microscope slides, and questions throughout the text. Each experiment contains a list of supplies first and then the procedure. They are very easy to understand and some require only items around the house while other experiments need the use special equipment. That is where the Video Instructional DVD comes into play. They are recorded in MP4 format and features author and marine biologist Sherri Seligson. Each experiment is presented in a PowerPoint presentation and video. Sherri also takes us across the US and to exotic places to bring the lessons to life. The Student Notebook is huge. There are 604 pages for the student to answer questions, take notes, fill in charts and see photos of the experiment process. A study guide is included in the textbook for each module and a two page test for each is in the test booklet.
My girls taking Biology just had birthdays, they are 14 and 15. They each read the text and filled in their student notebook individually. After checking their answers we discussed what they learned together and went over any questions they missed. We all watched the Video Instruction DVD together. The experiments that require only household items we worked on together and talked about the experiments as they were completed. We purchased specimen for the dissection labs and my girls are actually looking forward to those labs.
Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition has been very easy to implement in our school. At first the girls were a little overwhelmed by the size of the student notebook, but once they got started they were happy to have it. They both like having the charts, diagrams, and pictures included in their notebook. It makes studying and reviewing the material easier because they have a visual right there with their written work. The Video Instruction DVD is a great addition to the course and helps you see what is being taught. It gave my girls a glimpse of what an actual science class would look like, only better with on-location footage.
We have used many products from Apologia over the years and this 2nd Edition of Exploring Creation with Biology is a great addition to my student’s education. I’m sure it will prepare them for college level science without being dry and boring.
-Product review by, Lisa McClanahan, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2016
Exploring Creation with Biology is a 9th grade high school biology curriculum written from a Christian and creationist perspective. This almost 600 page hefty hardbound text has 16 Modules:
- Biology: The Study of Life
- Kingdom Monera
- Kingdom Protista
- Kingdom Fungi
- The Chemistry of Life
- The Cell
- Cellular Reproduction and DNA
- Mendelian Genetics
- Evolution: Part Scientific Theory, Part Unconfirmed Hypothesis
- The Invertebrates of Kingdom Animalia
- Phylum Arthropoda
- Phylum Chordata
- Kingdom Plantae: Anatomy and Classification
- Kingdom Plantae: Physiology and Reproduction
- Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals
Acknowledging that most homeschool parents aren’t comfortable teaching biology, the authors explain why Exploring Creation with Biology is “ideal for such parents.” The text is written in an easy-to-understand style, and most of the experiments can be carried out with household or easily attainable materials. The authors are dedicated to helping parents and students use their materials. Help is available via phone, email, or regular mail or on their website.
Each module is roughly 30 pages long and takes about 45-60 minutes a day for two weeks to complete (except for module six, which takes three weeks). However, there is no exact breakdown of what should be done in a day or a week’s time. This is intentional, as the curriculum is meant to be flexible (in tune with homeschooling in general). If one wants more direction in figuring out how much to do each day, the website has some guidelines.
Here is what a module looks like. The conversational text addresses the student and is interspersed with excellent quality photos and graphics. Vocabulary, including pronunciation, appears in bold print. About 15 to 20 “On Your Own” questions, highlighted in yellow, are also scattered throughout. These are to be answered by the student as he reads, and the answer (printed at the end of the module) is to be checked immediately. I would suggest putting a sticky-tab bookmark on the answer page for ease in flipping to this page while reading.
There are also several experiments in the module to be done as the student encounters them. It is recommended that the student keep an experiment notebook to aid in the learning process and also as a record to show evidence of having taken this class to prospective college admission boards.
Specialized lab equipment is available for purchase, including a microscope, a slide set, and a dissection kit with specimens. Although the experiments requiring these items are optional, they are beneficial to the student.
Each module ends with a “study guide” or quiz. It functions as a review, and students may use the text in answering the questions. Answers are found in the corresponding Solutions and Tests book (sold separately).
The textbook concludes with a glossary and three appendices. The first one is “A Simple Biological Key,” which is a duplication of a table that appears on pages 21-23 of the text. It is a flow-chart of sorts for determining the biological classification of a particular lifeform. Appendix B contains summaries of all the modules. These are fill-in-the-blank sentences that the student is to write out completely rather than just fill in. Answers to these are in the Solutions and Tests book. The last appendix is a complete list of lab supplies, organized by module and type of experiment. Lastly, you will find what every good textbook should have--an index.
The Solutions and Tests book contains teacher’s notes, solutions to the study guides, answers for selected experiments, answers to the module summaries in Appendix B, module tests and answers, and quarterly tests and answers. The teacher’s notes explain the teaching philosophy of the course, the student assignments and experiments, and the recommended grading procedure.
A style note on the text: the module breaks are not easily found by flipping through the book. Indeed, it seems to flow from module to module, except for a bolded “MODULE #8” at the top of the page. I think a colorful graphic at the top of the page or in the margin extending to the edge of the page would be helpful to students.
Exploring Creation with Biology is a complete, beautiful, God-glorifying biology curriculum highly worthy of consideration for your high school student.