Saturday, July 28, 2018

High School Science Planning....

Once again, I'm back studying high school science...or maybe I should say still studying, since I never really stopped. Last summer I wrote a post on Rethinking Science: Aiming Toward Scientific Literacy. You can consider the present post part two as I continue to think about high school science while planning Riley's Year 9.
"What exactly do you mean by science?" 
This is a question posed by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain in The Liberal Arts Tradition. The modern word "science" stems from the Latin word "scientia", which in the ancient world, meant "knowledge" or to know. In Understanding Physics, Isaac Asimov begins by explaining the history of modern day science...
The scholars of ancient Greece were the first we know of to attempt a thoroughgoing investigation of the universe - a systematic gathering of knowledge through the activity of human reason alone. Those who attempted this rationalistic search for understanding, without calling in the aid of intuition, inspiration, revelation, or other nonrational sources of information, were the philosophers (from Greek words meaning "lovers of wisdom").
Philosophy could turn within, seeking an understanding of human behavior, of ethics and morality, of motivations and responses. Or it might turn outside to an investigation of the universe beyond the intangible wall of the mind - an investigation, in short, of "nature."
Those philosophers who turned toward the second alternative were the natural philosophers, and for many centuries after the palmy days of Greece the study of the phenomena of nature continued to be called natural philosophy. The modern word that is used in its place - science, from a Latin word meaning "to know" - did not come into popular use until well into the nineteenth century. Even today, the highest university degree given for achievement in the sciences is generally that of "Doctor of Philosophy."
The word "natural" is of Latin derivation, so the term "natural philosophy" stems half from Latin and half from Greek, a combination usually frowned upon by purists. The Greek word for "natural" is physikos, so one might more precisely speak of physical philosophy to describe what we now call science.
The term physics, therefore, is a brief form of physical philosophy or natural philosophy and, in it is original meaning, included all of science.
However, as the field of science broadened and deepened, and as the information gathered grew more voluminous, natural philosophers had to specialize, taking one segment or another of scientific endeavor as their chosen field of work. The specialties received names of their own and were often subtracted from the once universal domain of physics.  
Here we see how modern science has come to be known by it's name. According to online Oxford Dictionaries, science is:
the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment
Science can be split into two main categories, biological and physical, but often both are related. Biological meaning the study of living things and physical being the study of non-living things. There are various branches of science within each of these categories.

Biological studies would include:

Biology - the study of life and living things
Ecology - the study of ecosystems
Botany - the study of plants
Physiology/Anatomy - the study of the human body and how it functions
Zoology - the study of the animal kingdom

Physical studies would include:

Physics - the study of matter and energy in space and time
Chemistry - the study of chemical elements and compounds
Astronomy - the study of outer space and everything in it
Meteorology - the study of atmosphere, or more specifically, weather phenomonea
Geology - the study of the earth's physical structure and substance
Oceanography - the study of physical and biological properties of the sea

This is not an exhaustive list by any means and you may have noticed that some of these sciences overlap. For example, oceanography not only includes studying the physical properties of the sea, but also the living/biological plants and creatures as well. In addition, there are social sciences, including anthropology, sociology, and psychology. There are also fields related to the sciences, such as medicine, mathematics, computer science, statistics, engineering, and alchemy.

The point here being, what used to be known simply as natural philosophy has now become numerous branches of science, but in many cases, they are still inter related. Therefore, it's a shame to compartmentalize them academically as so many modern schools do. As a matter of fact, Clark and Jain tell us that not only should the sciences be studied together along with a mathematical point of view, but also with a linguistic point of view, also known as the seven liberal arts.
A foundation in the seven liberal arts provides the common reason which is required to adjudicate the truth of arguments and justify or demonstrate the claims of reason. Natural philosophy offers students today a critical opportunity to hone their arts of reason in discussions of the natural world. When all the arts are employed, natural philosophy teaches students to think properly and promotes true wisdom. (The Liberal Arts Tradition)
This is very much in line with Charlotte Mason's holistic approach to education, which includes viewing the child as a born person, spreading a feast, and allowing for the science of relations through the use of living books and nature study.  
The only sound method of teaching science is to afford a due combination of field and laboratory work, with such literary comments and amplifications as the subject affords. (Vol. 6, p. 223)
It is for these reasons that I am choosing a multitude of books and resources for high school science, rather than one single text. The list for 9th grade includes:

Signs and Seasons by Jay Ryan
Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
Great Astronomers by Robert Stawell Ball
Conceptual Physics by Paul G.Hewitt
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Napoleon's Buttons Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson
A Chemical History of the Candle by Michael Faraday
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story of Brain Science by John Fleischman
First Studies in Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom
Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif

In looking at the stack, you will notice books on Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Botany. Several of these books are continued from last year and a few will be continued next year. Riley will also complete a combination of field and lab work through nature study and experimentation. In addition, she will continue the method of notebooking through her readings. Our aim is to provide a feast of ideas presented in a variety of books and activities so our children can see the relationships within the order that God created. Overall, we are excited about the year to come!

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