Science - Lab questions

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cbollin

Science - Lab questions

Unread post by cbollin » Fri May 21, 2010 12:26 pm

Do colleges expect dissection?
hsmom3 wrote:We'll be starting Biology in July and I was wondering about the labs. I read in the front of the book that the experiments are highly recommended but the microscope labs & dissection are optional. I have a child who is squeamish (like his mom!) and really dreading the dissection. If we do the experiments and the microscope labs, would that be enough to say we did lab for college admission? Or do colleges expect dissection to be included in biology? He's very interested in the science field (more physical science) but not biology.

Thanks,
Susan
If you do 2 out of 3 of the kinds of labs, then you may call it Biology with Lab on the high school transcript according to Apologia Science.

the kinds of labs are:
household stuff supplies
dissection
microscope

So if you leave out dissection this year, it's still high school lab credit as long as you do the other two kinds of labs.

If you get to 12th grade and are applying to a college that says they will not admit you if you didn't do a dissection, then either find another school, or do the dissections then in some format. I have not heard that colleges will get that detailed for that information. There will always be students from public or private schools who never did dissections for a wide variety of reasons.

Other options: get dad to be lab partner and be the one with the instruments while your child calls out the step by step instructions. I remember in high school biology, I was in a lab group of 5 kids and only one of us had to do the actual cutting. The rest of the group (including me) watched. We got our lab report done. Got my A. and that was the advanced class. ;)

-crystal

[editor's note: more helpful information researched by crystal here:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 806#p54819 ]

Julie in MN
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Re: Do colleges expect dissection?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 26, 2010 8:11 pm

There are also a few "virtual lab" sites online, so that could help round it out. I wouldn't do all the labs online, but like Crystal said, maybe one type? One site I've heard of (but not used) is FroGuts, and a Google search of "virtual dissection" brings up many links.

Another option would be to ask around your area for other folks doing dissections, and have a look while they do it. You wouldn't have to watch it all :)

Or, of course, skip them. I either closed my eyes or had a sudden illness when my junior hi class was dissecting :~
Julie
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Julie in MN
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Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by Julie in MN » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:17 am

Rhondabee wrote:OK, We are finishing Apologia Biology, and my son did learn the Biology (the important thing), and he made mostly A's on the tests.

But the labs - oh my! I'm a piano major - help! I'm the mom who says, "Oh, son, I'm sorry this science experiment didn't work either..." and then he spends a few minutes with it and says, "Oh, but Mom, see, it did!" So... to say that I am oblivious when it comes to knowing how to grade a lab without an answer key is an understatement. (Yes, he *did* the labs, and he wrote the labs up, but I can't tell from what he wrote if he did what he was supposed to do.)

I am trying to get this year's transcript information put together if you can't tell - LOL! So...I thought I would ask if anyone here understands, and what you have found to help. I've been looking at options for next year that will help me with labs: DIVE (which has Lab Sheets - yeah! - but it looks advanced) or RedWagon (but I don't know if that would help *me* with grading the labs which is what the real problem is!)

Any and all advice is welcome!
Rhonda,
Maybe you've already seen Donna Young's "Lab WU" (lab write-up) rubric? If you go to this page, then click on her form, then go to the little tabs at the bottom of the page. The "Lab WU" tab shows the grading plan.
http://www.donnayoung.org/apologia/lab-wu.htm

I'm sure there are other lab rubrics online, too, if you want to give grades.

Personally, I've always just graded labs as pass/fail. That's the way the public schools in our area do it -- if you're there, you get credit for labs. And you don't have to do all of the labs yourself, because there are other students in your group and there's a teacher who often does a lot of the set-up and clean-up. Anyways, I know they are pass/fail at our local school because of a sad story about my dd -- she failed 9th grade in public school because she somehow gave up and never did one assignment. Her only credits were band and 1/2 of science, because of attendance. So passing on the lab portion of science just by attendance would not be out-of-line.

I suppose if my student were not participating in the lab up to my standards, I wouldn't give credit. But really, it seems to me that most of the daily work in school is just to build up an understanding of the concepts, and then to review them in different ways. I would expect there would be some errors along the way. Apologia especially does this, by incorporating the lab right as he's still presenting the lesson. The student usually isn't expected to demonstrate full understanding until he gets to the testing part (or writing or projects or however you evaluate the final result).

JMHO,
Julie
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cbollin

Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by cbollin » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:52 am

I do understand the confusion of learning how to grade lab reports and all of that. I didn't want to just "give them an A" and go on. I wanted some guidelines to have integrity with the grade or points or something. my dh has a PHD in chemistry... but but but... how do I know my kid isn't just writing down something that sounds good on paper but may have missed the point? can't find it all on donna young site can I?

I haven't done biology yet (just started that this past week). I do have some ideas for how it was in jr. high Apologia science so that lab reports weren't a big problem. Don't panic.

grading and evaluating labs aside... back to the question in your subject line:

I'm using Apologia "as is" until I see a need to have something else. I know the redwagon tutorials are somehow related with the teacher from the Potter's School, and all of that. get rave reviews on those. the cost steers me away from the whole package. nothing against it. had some friends in my old state who enrolled their children in the programs and it was a great fit for them. so seeing the dvd's exist for anytime use, well. neat.

I've used DIVE with Saxon Math, but haven't looked at dive with apologia. I know they exist. But until I see that one of my kids needs more help, I don't plan to buy them for science.

I guess if I had no desire or ability to do any of the labs, then I'd lean toward one of them for helping a student complete the lab requirements. But that hasn't happened yet for us. We want to try it ourselves. So right now, given that the DIVE apologia biology CD says that half of the lessons don't need a lecture, and that the CD is mostly there for a video lab component especially with the dissections. hmmm.... "real" lab or "video lab". decisions.

-crystal

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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by Rhondabee » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:58 pm

If I can understand Donna Young's spreadsheet, that might be an answer for next year. I have a rubric I shlepped together by myself half-way through the year, but hers is more detailed. I also like the pass/fail idea - but I will have to ask for more details below.

And, yes, I understand *exactly* what your angst is. There have even been times on the tests when I've had to ask my son to explain his answer & the answer key's answer more fully, because I've never had a Biology class, I don't have time to learn this material with him now, but I don't want to just assume his answer is wrong when it might simply be semantics. And, often it is. (Thankfully I have had Chem and Physics, so maybe things will get better from here on out...)

I will prepare you that many of the Biology labs don't lend themselves well to reading the first few paragraphs after the lab for a pre-digested "this is what you should have discovered".

Thanks, all!
Last edited by Rhondabee on Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Rhonda
New to MFW - 2010
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In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Julie in MN
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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:29 pm

Rhondabee wrote:How does that figure into the final grade for the course?
Thanks,
Rhonda
Rhonda,
Pass/fail for labs does not mean pass/fail for science. The lab might not be part of the grade at all, or you can figure out a method to fit the pass/fail into the total science grade. For example, in AHL Marie suggests in the English credit, "daily work" be given a certain amount of points based on basic stuff like participation and effort, so the lab with good participation and effort could get a good grade but it would only be a portion of the total grade.

So if it were Biology, you could give, say, 100 points for exams (averaging them in one way or another, such as averaging points or averaging grades), then some amount of points for labs (10? 50? 100?) based on pass/fail or some simple point structure you could make up. My dd's experience with the public schools was to receive "1/2 credit" just for being "present" for the labs and the other half credit by completing worksheets in summer school (long story). I know, the public schools are NOT a perfect model, but my oldest son graduated from that school and is now a working petroleum engineer, so it can't be all bad :~

My dd took science labs for homeschoolers put on by a university teacher, and my ds took science labs for homeschoolers put on by a middle school teacher. The labs were nothing we hadn't done at home before, and the paperwork standards were minimal. So I guess I'm trying to say that I really believe your dd is ahead even if she made an error in a lab report.

There are other ways of doing things, and I could poke around Donna Young's site or other homeschool sites for grading suggestions. I think the Apologia books give a little guidance for at least the exams & such. And in Physical Science at least, Mr. Wile always almost tells them the exact thing they were supposed to get out of the lab. (So even if what she wrote in her lab report was off, she should be reading those paragraphs and saying, "Oh, I get it now...")

But really it seems like Apologia's decision not to give specifics about grading lab reports, isn't it? If it were essential, I'd think they'd lay out those requirements. And MFW can't just sell something based on another author's program, can they? I'm not sure what all the ins and outs of that kind of thing are. So anyways, I wonder if anyone has asked Apologia about grading reports on their labs? Apologia is pretty good about answering email.

Julie, who likes to discuss but not to grade
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TriciaMR
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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by TriciaMR » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:51 pm

At apologia's web site, there was a knowledge base question: "How do I grade lab reports?" This is their rubric: http://www.apologiaonline.com/kb/kbqryresid.asp?27369

Not as detailed as the one at Donna's Young's site, but maybe some combo of the two would help?

-Trish
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cbollin

Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:04 pm

well, actually apologia does give some extra links with some of it and a sample lab report and things like that.

I wasn't so worried about giving grades. This part from Apologia's KB
(30%) Can a person who has never read the book read the summary and understand what was done and what was learned?
That was the whole point of writing a lab. Even accounting for my daughter's writing style there were plenty of times that I (who had never read the book) that I could not understand what she learned. so, for that I wanted an answer key and was willing to ask.

I'm just too spoiled by the MFW manuals having such quantity of helpful notes and hints. (especially the AHL materials by the way). I don't mean I needed tons of extra help with the Apologia plans. just that I felt clueless how to teach/coach/mentor, etc. I looked at Apologia's website for help. I re-read all of the apologia notes in their solutions manuals. it was really nice for me to see that Rhondabee needed the same help. I felt a bit more normal

-crystal

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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by TriciaMR » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:21 pm

I see what you mean. If she does the experiment and then writes a conclusion, how do you know she came to the *right* conclusion?

I think a lot of people feel the same way with writing. Is it enough? Is it a "good" paragraph? What should I suggest to make it better without bringing her to tears? (And yes, I've read the "Evaluating Writing" book and think, my kid will never be *there*.)

-Trish
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cbollin

Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:35 pm

bingo Trish.

It's easy when I'm the one teaching the material. I know what was covered. and in my oldest kid's case, with her brain issues, even if she sees the right answer in the book she may not realize that her answer was not part of what was going on. homeschooing is a very frustrating occupation at times.

Most of the reason I asked MFW instead of asking Apologia is that MFW seems more real to me with real homeschooling parents. and even when MFW staff answer from "mfw hats" on their heads, they still talk like homeschooling parents and as someone else said on another thread in the last day, they do their best to uh.. oh what was the phrase she used oh yeah.. "radiate Christ's love". but none of this is MFW's responsibility. And those of us teaching our oldest should just relax.

I wish I had a real teacher's lounge for when I need help with the frustrations of the learning curve of teaching jr. high/high school. those frustrations at high school level with "independent learners" does explain why options like RedWagon and DIVE exist, doesn't it?

-crystal

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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by samandsawyersmom » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:01 pm

I am just starting out with hsing. But I get the frustration! I am VERY sure I will be using everyone who is on here's advice on everything and anything!!! I just NEVER thought I would be homeschooling!! So I am loving this forum. Thank you for all you do!!
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ilovemy4kids
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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by ilovemy4kids » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:15 pm

What you are describing is precisely why we used Apologiaonlineacademy for Physical Science this past year. For General Science, I did all the grading etc.... on lab reports I could tell if the format was correct but not if he was really "getting it". Apologia online was awesome for this. They had the parent check the lab reports for format etc... but also did a few formal lab reports graded by the teacher. It was great. We will be using them again this year for Biology and our daughter will be using redwagon for General Science.
Sandra

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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by Rhondabee » Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:01 am

ilovemy4kids wrote:Apologia online was awesome for this.
I have been mulling this over as an option (using some sort of online class). But, I am hesitant - not because of Apologiaonlineacademy or redwagon - but because of our schedule (long story - we homeschool at my DH's office & I am helping DH while homeschooling) and because of DS's other online commitments which are absolutely necessary because I *can't* teach them. He already wants to take an extra writing/rhetoric class and Greek (he wants to read the Bible in the original language, and with Bible translators sorely needed - who am I to say no to that?). Online classes will demand the best portion of his time and talent. (grrrr...) At least, that was the nature of the beast this past year. To surrender my money and autonomy for a class I *should* be able to do at home (on our schedule, which often needs to be flexible) just seems like "much ado" over one portion of the class that is so irksome. (Sorry - I'm kind of thinking out loud here. It's 5:30 in the morning, and no one else is up - LOL!)
*******************

BTW ~ to those "reading along ~ here is an excerpt from Bret's email to me:
  • When using our lesson plans for Apologia Science and successfully completing the assigned reviews, tests, and labs, your student will get the science foundation needed to attend college. We believe the most important part of the labs is to complete them as assigned. A simple lab write up is sufficient. We are not as concerned about the results of the labs as we are that the student follows the directions as written and understands the concepts related to the labs that are in the textbook. This understanding is confirmed by the tests.
********************
So, at this point, I am planning to talk to DS & DH about "Should we try to complete CLEP Science tests or not?" If we decide we should, then we will probably do DIVE, using the add-on program and taking the CLEP tests. (Somehow, I doubt this will be the case; he is a language-arts guy. But, it is a viable alternative in our state.) And, I hope that using the MFW Lesson Plans will give me some extra guidance that was missing during our journey through Biology.

Both programs seek to glorify God. So, I don't think we can go wrong either way.
Rhonda
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12yo DS - EXP to 1850
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Re: Labs - How do I know if he did what he was supposed to

Unread post by Rhondabee » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:32 am

cbollin wrote:I'm guessing most of you think I'm too strict or nit picky. But if you knew my student, you'd understand how hard it is for her to unlearn a wrong conclusion.

right now, it's just easier to read the whole chapter in small bites each day because I don't think what I want exists. I'm more concerned about the thought processes of science and how to reach a conclusion instead of "just give them an A on the test".
No...I don't think you're too strict or too nit-picky. I think you're the perfect parent for your child!

I think God is changing me and my family for something that is coming. I used to pre-read every word of every lesson, and actively teach every lesson after dc had read through the material (including Apologia!). I understand. My 15yo has a very concrete-thinking streak that runs through him. Maybe that's why my reply was lost. If I gave details here, it might look like I was demeaning him in public, you know?

Part of my problem is that I have always been a straight-A person. I just am. And I struggle to understand how xyz could be so difficult for him to understand. Then, DH comes along and points out how DS's brain is working, and it actually makes sense somehow. And, DH wouldn't know if we weren't all together crammed into his office because of all the negative circumstances regarding the economy and his step-mother's mental health, and me needing to work and homeschool simultaneously. And, so it is bringing us together in ways that don't translate well in words, much less over a message board.

And, so, when Bret sent me that email, I just took that as God's personal word to me that He has things in control. Yeah - my son is probably never gonna be a scientist - gotta tell ya, I could see that one comin' from a mile away - LOL! Maybe I just need to trust that even *if* there are some labs that deserve to be graded as "C's", and even if my DS makes "A's" and then promptly forgets everything that was on the tests, that life will go on and God has a plan for his life (one that probably doesn't include science).

Blessings!
Rhonda
Rhonda
New to MFW - 2010
15yo DS - World History
12yo DS - EXP to 1850
5yo DD - Kindergarten
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Julie in MN
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Science Lab reports

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:02 pm

RachelT wrote:
Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:54 am
Helllo! We have just started WHL with Physical Science. Our children are 8th and 10th grade and we have returned to MFW after using another program for a few years. We decided to have them both work through the Physical Science so they can do the labs together and have a good foundation before moving on to the other sciences since we have not used a textbook for science before. Our son is dyslexic/dysgraphic and my question is really for him.

We completed the first experiment all together yesterday and discussed it aloud, reading through the explanation that followed in the book. Our daughter was writing down notes in her lab notebook about the experiment and we talked about it aloud. After that, our son didn't think that he needed to write it down for himself because they had worked on it together and we had discussed it orally. How important is it for him to write his own lab report? Is that an important skill that he needs to practice or is it more important that he shows understanding, even if it's through oral discussion?

I'm really looking for honest answers here because I want him to be prepared for college. We have done a lot of oral discussion in the past to use our time efficiently, but if it's important for him to learn to write a lab report, then I will require him to do it. He can write essays and type well, he just avoids writing when I allow him to give answers orally and I can't tell if this is a big deal or not in this case. Thanks for any advice you may share!
Hi Rachel,
Nice to "see" you :)

I thought I'd start the conversation and hope others will chime in.

After talking to my sons about college labs, I've gotten the impression that college professors can be all over the place. Maybe the best lesson to learn is that professors have particular expectations and it is the student's job to follow them -- professors may primarily want to give you experiences that help in your understanding, but when it comes to giving grades they may be basing them on what you turn in.

I posted a while ago about how our local high school mostly graded labs on attendance, and often they were group labs where one student took the initiate to write up the assignment and the others stood around: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=9245&p=62242#p62242

I guess with an 11th grader, I'd start thinking about at least one period of time during his remaining high school years having him follow science lab instructions of some sort, especially if he wants a lab credit on his transcript. Ideally, he would follow the lab instructions in his textbook, or at least be very involved in what his sibling is writing up -- perhaps adding to it. But you could even make up some instructions tailored for him, if that would give him practice in carrying them out on his own.

Certainly they can be typed or even dictated using voice software, especially if he is using programs he might use in college or career. One of my sons had a college course where all lab reports were turned in via computer software. There was one math class that was that way, as well.

Just chatting a bit as you think this through,
Julie
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ruthamelia
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Re: Science Lab reports

Unread post by ruthamelia » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:45 pm

Agreeing with Julie, if you're concerned about being prepared for college lab science courses (I think I took at least 5 or 6 of them) there is not a formula to writing lab reports. Likely each individual instructor will have their own preferences and set of instructions. So what you ask your son to do depends on your goals:

A goal that I would say is definitely worthwhile is being able to communicate concrete information in writing. (That doesn't mean handwriting- typing is absolutely fine, perhaps even preferable for this purpose.) If he is able to explain himself well about the lab orally, can he do the same in writing? If you transcribe his verbal responses, can he edit them into a good written report? That is an important composition skill. Once he gets to college, unless he has a documented continued disability that requires accommodations, he won't be able to substitute oral reports for written requirements.

Following instructions is another worthwhile goal. Dr. Wile is fairly straightforward about how to write the lab reports. Being able to interpret and follow written instructions is an important skill that is different from being able to answer your verbal questions about the science content.

Yet another (obvious) goal is learning the science content. For that purpose, writing the lab report may or may not be valuable depending on the individual. Some people internalize information more when they write it down. Others don't. If you think he's learning the science content well from verbal discussion (and perhaps confirmation on the tests) then doing written lab reports for this purpose isn't necessary.

Some other thoughts and ideas:
-pick and choose which lab reports to write up instead of doing them all
-create a template with all the categories and have him fill (type) them in rather than write the report from scratch
-take pictures at various stages of the lab- writing captions for them might make more sense than "writing a lab report"
-if you decide you want him to do some lab report writing and he balks, have him write to Dr. Wile and ask his opinion on why he should write lab reports! Obviously he finds it an important piece of the curriculum or he wouldn't have included it. Borrowing the author's authority might get you a little more distance in convincing your son. He seems pretty responsive on his blog, and my nephew wrote to him once (snail mail) and got a very helpful reply back.
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