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Science Vocabulary: Homeschool Learning Resources

We love science! At Berean Builders, we believe science is a fascinating subject that fuels curiosity and encourages exploration.

Whether your homeschooler is a budding scientist or simply eager to understand the world around them, a strong foundation in science terms is essential. Effective learning requires knowledge of the topic vocabulary.

If you took science classes in school, you remember learning science vocabulary. By familiarizing your student with these linguistic building blocks, you can help them more deeply understand various scientific disciplines and ideas.

Critical thinkers utilize strong vocabularies as they seek to comprehend new concepts.

Studying Science: The Power of Root Words

Before diving into specific science vocabulary, it’s important to understand the significance of root words. Root words are the foundation upon which many scientific terms are built. By recognizing common Greek and Latin roots, homeschoolers can decipher the meanings of scientific words, even when they encounter them for the first time.

Here are some frequently used scientific roots (both prefixes and suffixes), their meanings, and some common uses:

Bio – Life: biology, biotechnology, biosphere

Geo – Earth: geology, geography, geophysics

Astro – Space: astronomy, astrophysics, astronaut

Hydro – Water: hydrology, hydroelectricity, hydroponics

Aero – Air: aerodynamics, aerospace, aeronautics

Photo – Light: photosynthesis, photography, photovoltaic

Micro – Small: microscope, microbiology, microorganism

-ology – The study of: biology, geology, ecology

-ist – One who studies: chemist, physicist, zoologist

-metry – Measurement: telemetry, geometry, tachometry

Essential Science Vocabulary

Let’s explore a selection of frequently used science vocabulary that homeschoolers should become familiar with.

Hypothesis: a proposed explanation or prediction based on limited evidence, serving as the starting point for scientific investigation.

Experiment: a carefully designed procedure to test a hypothesis and gather data.

Variables: factors that can be changed or measured in an experiment, such as independent variables (manipulated) and dependent variables (observed).

Observation: the act of carefully watching or noting something to gather information.

Theory: a well-substantiated explanation of natural phenomena, supported by a vast body of evidence and scientific consensus.

Law: a statement that describes an observed phenomenon in nature, often expressed as a mathematical equation.

Energy: the capacity to do work or cause change. It exists in various forms such as kinetic, potential, thermal, and electrical energy.

Matter: anything that has mass and takes up space. It can exist in solid, liquid, or gaseous states.

Ecosystem: a community of living organisms, along with their physical environment, that interact and depend on each other.

DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, a molecule that carries genetic information and serves as the blueprint for the development and functioning of all living organisms.

Scientific Method: a systematic approach used by scientists to investigate and understand the natural world.

Science Tools and Instruments

One fun part of science is being able to use tools and instruments to view, measure, and manipulate components during a lesson. When your student is familiar with the vocabulary of scientific instruments, learning expands with the knowledge of how they are used.

Telescope Pipette Balance
Thermometer Microscope Centrifuge
Graduated cylinder Test tube Compass
Beaker Hydrometer Flask

Branches of Science

Science is a vast field with several specialized branches. Each discipline uses its own set of related vocabulary.

Biology: the study of living organisms and their interactions with their environment.

Cells Evaporation Organism
Genetics Mitosis Metamorphosis
Evolution Osmosis Bacteria
Ecosystem Symbiosis Biodiversity

Chemistry: the study of substances, their properties, composition, interactions, and changes.

Electron Compound Acid
Proton Reaction Base
Neutron Periodic table Solvent
Element Oxidation Solution

Physics: the study of matter, energy, and the fundamental forces that govern the universe.

Gravity Acceleration Momentum
Force Displacement Velocity
Motion Inertia Entropy
Energy Friction Quantum

Astronomy: the study of celestial objects, space, and the universe.

Planet Comet Galaxy
Black hole Satellite Asteroid
Heliocentric Binary star Light year
Constellation Magnitude Eclipse

Geology: the study of the Earth, its rocks, minerals, and the processes that shape the planet’s structure.

Magma Minerals Erosion
Plate tectonics Aquifer Sedimentary
Igneous Subduction Hydrothermal
Crust Bedrock Mantle

We could go on and on with science vocabulary!

When you introduce your student to new science words and help them understand their meanings in context, you give them tools to make connections between concepts, decode complex terms, and cultivate a lifelong love for science.

Science Vocabulary Everywhere!

The best way to give your homeschooler the gift of scientific knowledge is to immerse them in one of our comprehensive science courses. From earth science to biology, chemistry, physics, and more, your student can engage in exploration of our universe, our planet, and the life around us, all while encouraging critical thinking and creativity.

With conversational text, hands-on experiments your student can perform right at home, and support from us here, Berean Builders science courses bring the world of science to your homeschool adventure.

More Resources For Homeschool Science

Come see our wide selection of science courses for…

…that cover plenty of science vocabulary and help your student explore the world.

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Homeschool Burnout: 27 Ideas to Find Balance

young woman holding book and thinking

You know the feeling. Everyone is grumpy. No one wants to do the lessons for the day. You’re all in yesterday’s clothes. There may be tears. You’re experiencing homeschool burnout.

 8 Signs You’re Doing Too Much in Your Homeschool

The specific signs of burnout are common among many situations:

  • Feeling constantly tired, lacking energy, difficulty getting through the day.
  • Becoming easily annoyed or impatient with your children or the homeschooling process.
  • Finding it difficult to get excited about teaching or engaging in educational activities.
  • Struggling to accomplish planned lessons or meet educational goals or deadlines.
  • Experiencing feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, or sadness related to homeschooling.
  • Developing headaches, muscle tension, or other physical manifestations of stress.
  • Failing to prioritize your own well-being and neglecting activities that bring you happiness and relaxation.
  • Losing the joy and satisfaction that you once found in homeschooling.

If you notice these signs persistently, it might be an indication that you and your children need a break.

AND THAT’S OKAY.

If you’re feeling like a failure because you’re experiencing burnout, we’re here to give you big hugs and help you take steps to move past this difficult time.

Taking a mental health day from home education is absolutely vital and can be beneficial for everyone involved.

First, recognize and acknowledge that you and your children require a break, and that it is a normal part of the homeschooling journey.

Next, open communications with your children. Discuss the idea of taking a mental health day, explaining the importance of taking care of yourselves and that a break can help rejuvenate your whole crew.

Plan Your Day Off

Once everyone is on board with a much-needed time out, engage in a little planning session. Let your children help by encouraging them to help choose the activities they enjoy and find relaxing.

Use your day off to prioritize self-care for yourself, and make sure your children do the same. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as reading, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies.

After Your Day Off

Take some time at the end of your day to reflect on your homeschooling journey. Remember why you’ve taken on the responsibility of educating your own. Consider any necessary adjustments or changes that could help prevent burnout in the future.

After your mental health break, gradually ease back into your homeschooling routine. It’s okay to take it slow. Remember to incorporate breaks and self-care practices into your daily schedule to stave off the effects of doing too much.

Taking care of your mental health and emotional well-being is essential for effective homeschooling and is as important as math, science, history, and literature.

By having the courage to say ENOUGH, recognizing and addressing that burnout is real, you can create a healthier and more sustainable homeschooling experience for you and for your children.

Need some self-care ideas?

Here is a list of gentle activities to do today to help you and your children unwind and relax to better deal with your homeschool responsibilities tomorrow.

27 Ideas to Help You Find Balance in Your Homeschool Journey

  • Relax your mind: Engage in mindfulness exercises, prayer, or guided meditation to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Move your body: Enjoy physical activities together such as going for a quiet walk, bike ride, or gentle sport to help release endorphins to boost your mood and reduce stress.
  • Create something new: Encourage your children to engage in activities like drawing, painting, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. Join with them and explore your own creative outlets. Just make sure these activities don’t generate more stress than they alleviate.
  • Embrace nature: Spend time outdoors on a quiet hike, or having a picnic in the park, or simply enjoying a walk in the fresh air, maybe somewhere new to you. Nature has a calming effect on your frazzled nerves. Go barefoot if you can!
  • Read a book: Set aside time for reading, either individually or together as a family. Choose books that you find enjoyable and calming, or maybe even humorous. Laughing reduces stress, too.
  • Play a game or watch a movie: Dedicate an evening for family game night (unless you have uber-competitive members of the family) or movie night. Take turns selecting games or movies everyone can enjoy. Even spending time in a video game is self-care if that’s what you or your children enjoy.
  • Write something: Start or add to a journal and encourage your children to do the same. Write a letter to a loved one or good friend. Writing and expressing thoughts and feelings can be a therapeutic outlet for emotional well-being.
  • Have a spa day: Set up a mini spa at home, complete with face masks, foot soaks, and relaxing music. Take turns pampering each other for some quality bonding time. Or spring for a session at a real spa and indulge in a well-earned massage.
  • Listen to music or a podcast: Create a playlist of soothing or uplifting music to listen to. You can also explore educational or entertaining podcasts that cater to your children’s interests.
  • Play! Allow your children (and yourself!) to have unstructured playtime where you all can engage in imaginative play, build with blocks, or play with favorite toys. This promotes creativity and relaxation. Put together a puzzle, build a sandcastle, fly a kite. The options are limited only by your imagination. Follow their lead, because your kids know how to have fun.

Take Your Time Off. Disconnect.

Tailor self-care activities to your and your children’s interests and preferences, and forget about school for a while.

The key is to engage in activities that bring joy, relaxation, and a sense of well-being to everyone in your family.

Wow! Wasn’t That Awesome and Rejuvenating?

Now that you’ve had a much-needed mental health day, and you’re ready to dive into homeschooling again…

how can you prevent burnout in the future to maintain a healthy and sustainable homeschool environment?

First, set realistic expectations. Recognize you’re not SuperHomeschoolingMom. We all believe we can do more than we or our children are often physically able. Accept your limitations and realize your children will receive a great education despite them.

Homeschooling is a journey with ups and downs, and it’s okay to have days that don’t go as planned.

Create a flexible schedule so you don’t feel as if you’re boxed in by deadlines. Take breaks, rest periods, and time outs for self-care throughout the day to prevent feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.

Keep your homeschooling approach fresh and dynamic by incorporating a variety of teaching methods, resources, and activities to keep boredom and burnout at bay.

Make self-care a priority. Recharge and refresh yourself. Practice self-reflection.

Create a positive learning environment by designating a space for homeschooling that is organized, comfortable, and conducive to learning.

Connect with other homeschooling families or support groups to help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide valuable support.

Don’t be afraid to delegate certain responsibilities or outsource certain subjects or activities. Can’t do math? Let someone else teach it for you.

Assess what’s working and what’s not, and don’t be afraid to make sweeping changes when required. Homeschooling is all about learning and growing, and not just for your children.

Stay open to new ideas and educational approaches. Attend workshops, conferences, or take online courses to enhance your teaching skills and discover fresh ways to keep learning fresh and exciting.

Explore educational resources including books, podcasts, or documentaries that inspire and ignite your passion for teaching.

The last thing you want to do is quench the spark that you and your children have for homeschooling.

Celebrate milestones, progress, and accomplishments—both yours and your children’s.

Prioritize your own well-being along with the educational needs of your children to create a homeschooling experience filled with joy and excitement.

We at Berean Builders want your homeschooling journey to be filled with fun and growth and create lifelong curiosity and a wealth of pleasant memories for you and your children.

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Homeschool Science Lesson Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

Homeschool science lesson planning isn’t merely about following a curriculum; it’s about

  • igniting curiosity,
  • fostering critical thinking,
  • and nurturing a lifelong appreciation for science and the natural world.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the art and science of homeschool science lesson planning, exploring strategies, resources, and tips to empower home educators in this enriching endeavor.

In a homeschooling environment, where students have the flexibility to explore topics at their own pace, science becomes an invaluable tool for nurturing their intellectual growth.

By planning engaging science lessons, homeschooling parents can instill a love for learning and equip their student with essential skills for success in an increasingly complex world.

Homeschool Science Lesson Plans: Understanding the Fundamentals

Before diving into the intricacies of lesson planning, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamental principles that underpin effective science education:

Requirements for Science

First, it is essential to familiarize yourself with your state’s homeschooling laws and requirements.

Each state has its own regulations regarding subjects to be taught, curriculum standards, and evaluation methods. By understanding these guidelines, you can ensure that your science lessons align with the necessary standards and expectations. Then you’re ready to plan.

Curiosity as the Catalyst

  • Science thrives on curiosity. Encourage your student’s natural inclination to question, explore, and experiment.
  • Design lessons that pique their interest and inspire wonder, fostering a sense of awe and excitement.

Hands-On Exploration

  • Science is best learned through hands-on experiences. Incorporate experiments, field trips, and interactive activities to deepen understanding and retention.
  • Create a learning environment that encourages experimentation, investigation, and discovery.

Integration of Disciplines

  • Science transcends boundaries. Integrate other subjects like mathematics, language arts, and history into your lessons, fostering interdisciplinary connections and enriching the learning experience.

Adaptability and Flexibility

  • Embrace flexibility in your lesson plans, allowing for spontaneity and adaptation based on your student’s interests, pace, and learning style.
  • Be prepared to adjust your approach as needed, tailoring lessons to meet evolving needs and challenges.
  • Take a break when necessary and go outside, enjoy a field trip, or just breathe, then dive back in when refreshed. You could be inspired for new lessons outside your homeschool classroom.

Crafting Comprehensive Homeschool Science Lesson Plans

With the foundational principles in mind, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of crafting comprehensive homeschool science lesson plans:

Step 1: Set Clear Objectives

What should my student learn from each science lesson?

  • Define specific learning goals and objectives for each lesson, aligning them with your overall curriculum and educational objectives following your state’s requirements. Consider using guidelines that are supplied by your curriculum provider.
  • Ensure that objectives are measurable, achievable, and relevant to your student’s learning journey. Break down overarching outcomes into smaller, easily reachable goals to keep you and your student motivated.
  • Not sure what objectives to aim for? We are available to help you determine the best course for your students wherever they are in their science education journey.

Step 2: Choose Engaging Topics

How do I keep my homeschool student engaged with science lessons?

  • Select topics that resonate with your student’s interests, sparking curiosity and enthusiasm.
  • Consider current scientific trends and real-world relevance that align with your worldview or compare and contrast those that do not.
  • Explore a variety of scientific disciplines, from biology and chemistry to physics and earth science, catering to diverse interests and learning preferences.
  • Dr. Wile has included a thorough investigation of science using conversational language to keep your student engaged and excited to learn more about the world around us.

Step 3: Plan Hands-On Activities

How can I include hands-on activities in my homeschool science lessons?

From simple kitchen experiments to outdoor nature walks, leverage everyday materials and resources to bring scientific concepts to life. Encourage exploration, observation, and inquiry to cultivate a sense of wonder and discovery in your student.

  • Incorporate hands-on experiments, demonstrations, and projects to reinforce key concepts and principles, foster experiential learning, and deepen understanding.
  • Consider the availability of materials and resources, opting for activities that are safe, feasible, and aligned with your educational goals.
  • At Berean Builders, we understand the importance of hands-on learning and offer detailed instructions plus some hard-to-find materials to make your homeschool science experiments easy to conduct.

Step 4 Create a Flexible Lesson Structure

How can I keep homeschool science lessons organized but not rigid?

While having a structured lesson plan is encouraged, flexibility is key to accommodating your student’s individual needs and interests.

  • Design a framework that allows for spontaneous exploration and adaptation based on your student’s progress and feedback, along with their learning style.
  • Incorporate a mix of introductory activities, guided instruction, independent exploration, and reflection to cater to different learning styles and preferences.
  • When an opportunity to experience science first-hand arises, go for it. Head out to an unplanned event or include an activity that may not fit precisely with the current lesson, such as a spontaneous local presentation or a rare astronomical event.

Step 5: Integrate Multimedia Resources

How can I keep science lessons interesting?

Consider incorporating multimedia resources to keep lessons interesting and your students engaged and to reinforce concepts.

  • Enhance learning experiences with resources such as educational videos, interactive simulations, physical games, and educational websites.
  • Leverage technology to access virtual labs, documentaries, and educational games, enriching your student’s understanding of complex scientific concepts.
  • Do you have a student who prefers watching or hearing their lessons? Check out our audiobooks and video lessons that go along with our courses.

Step 5: Foster Inquiry-Based Learning

How can my homeschool student actively participate in science lessons?

  • Encourage inquiry-based learning by posing thought-provoking questions and facilitating open-ended discussions.
  • Empower your student to explore, hypothesize, and experiment, nurturing their innate curiosity and problem-solving skills.
  • Include independent research assignments to boost critical thinking and research skills.

Step 6: Incorporate Cross-Curricular Connections

How can I prevent compartmentalizing my homeschool subjects?

Science is inherently interdisciplinary, offering numerous opportunities to integrate other subjects seamlessly.

  • Explore connections between science and mathematics, language arts, history, and the arts to provide a holistic learning experience.
  • Incorporate writing assignments, project-based learning, and art activities that complement scientific exploration and deepen understanding.
  • Investigate current events, environmental issues, and technological advancements to illustrate the relevance of science in society and inspire future scientists and innovators.

Step 7: Assess Learning Outcomes

How can I know how well my student understands science concepts?

  • Evaluate your student’s understanding and mastery of concepts through informal assessments, quizzes, and hands-on demonstrations.
  • Provide constructive feedback and reinforcement, celebrating achievements and addressing areas for improvement.
  • Berean Builders courses encourage notebooking for your student to keep detailed notes of their studies which helps you see how well they grasp the ideas you are presenting.

Step 8: Reflect and Adapt

Am I required to continue using homeschool lessons I’ve planned?

Keep detailed records of your student’s achievements, experiments, and discoveries to track progress over time and facilitate future lesson planning.

  • Reflect on the effectiveness of each lesson, identifying strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth.
  • Use feedback from your student, as well as your own observations, to refine your teaching approach and enhance future lessons.
  • You are in charge of your homeschool lessons. Adjust and adapt as needed to give your student an amazing science journey.

Berean Builders Online Lesson Plans With Homeschool Planet

If you prefer digital planning in your homeschool, you may be interested in using our integrated lesson plans through Homeschool Planet.

Homeschool Planet is an online homeschool planner and our lesson plans are now available to automatically populate into your digital homeschool schedule. They offer a 30 day free trial, with no credit card required.

lesson planning

Building Confidence in your Homeschool Science Lessons

Above all, foster a love of learning and curiosity for scientific exploration. Encourage questioning, curiosity, and independent inquiry to nurture a growth mindset and a passion for discovery.

Create opportunities for your students to pursue their interests, conduct independent research, and engage with the broader scientific community through workshops, clubs, and mentorship programs.

Embrace the journey of homeschooling as an opportunity for shared discovery and learning. Stay curious, adaptable, and open-minded as you embark on this educational adventure with your students.

By fostering a love of science and empowering your students to explore the wonders of the natural world, you’ll lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning.

 

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Homeschool Science Curriculum For All Ages

mom helping high school girl with homeschool science

Homeschool Science with Berean Builders

At Berean Builders, we are committed to helping you create critical thinkers in your homeschool through our science courses covering every grade level. Whether science is your favorite subject, or it gives you pause, our courses bring clarity to scientific ideas and engaging experiments that bring the concepts to life.

Dr. Jay Wile has created a series of science courses designed to help you teach science at home.

Wondering where to begin?

Take a look at your homeschool needs. We offer a list of questions and suggestions to help you get started.

Ready to dive into building critical thinkers? Let’s take a look at our courses designed to simplify teaching science at home while offering your student a well-defined path to understanding and solid preparation for further studies in college.

Homeschool Science Curriculum Options For Elementary School

For students at the elementary level, we offer fun and engaging learning opportunities through our chronological journey of science through history. If you’re excited for your student to follow along from the earliest scientific discoveries to modern-day advancements, this series is for you!

Elementary students are just starting to notice the science of the world around them. What better way to apply their wonder than to introduce basic scientific concepts found in everyday discoveries. While they are learning to read and write and perform mathematical operations, they can use their new-found skills to explore science through our courses.

Begin at the beginning with a look at the science of Creation. Dr. Wile presents the basics in an easy-to-understand format that opens up the world for your student to discover more. Dive into kitchen science with our hands-on experiments that follow along with the textbook concepts to help your student understand the science behind the explanations.

Throughout our Science through HIStory courses, your student will follow the scientists of the ancient world and beyond to see how critical thinking played an enormous role in scientific developments.

From the ancient to the medieval to the scientific revolution ages your student will continue expanding on the information they gathered, hanging details on the hooks of their previous discoveries, all while improving those basic reading, writing, and math skills they’re learning  by documenting their studies in notebooks.

Our engaging elementary courses take your student from Creation to Marie Curie and offer a clear view of the science of our world in a way your elementary student will enjoy.

Science Curriculum For Homeschooling Middle School

Middle school and junior high courses take learning up a notch and bring students into the atomic age, along with our in-depth earth science course designed to go deeper into the elementary concepts your student has already learned.

By this stage, your student may be interested in online studies. Our courses create a dynamic environment for learning, participation, and feedback.

What if your student’s style doesn’t quite line up with our presentations? You’re in luck. We also offer self-paced recorded classes so your student can take their time over a concept or power through something they quickly understand.

The middle school science courses are customizable for your homeschool student, which makes Berean Builders science a good fit for many different learning styles.

High School Homeschool Curriculum For College Prep

High school science can sometimes be intimidating, but we got you. We offer high school level science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics, plus online classes and direct access to Dr. Wile for questions about concepts that may be puzzling.

Our courses present the sciences with an undercurrent of wonder about the design of our world and universe. With clear explanations and hands-on experiments, your high schooler will develop critical thinking skills that are necessary and applicable in college and university levels of learning.

Unsure which you should teach first in high school? Check out this article on the order of courses. (Hint: it has to do with math skills!)

Interested in offering your student honors courses to further ready them for college? Any of our high school courses can earn an honors credit when specific conditions are met. We detail these here.

Berean Builders In Your Homeschool

Whether your student wants to learn from a textbook or online, use audiobooks or pre-recorded lessons, Berean Builders has science presentations designed to fit all learning styles.

With plenty of real-world experiments to conduct right in your home, your student will have first-hand experiences with the concepts from our courses.

And when something is just not clicking, we’re here for you.

Science questions, course questions, experiment questions, technical support? Everything you need to bring science to your homeschool from elementary to middle school to high school is available right here at Berean Builders.

Start building your critical thinkers today.

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DNA and RNA: Homeschool Learning Resources

DNA and RNA learning resources

To properly study genetics, students must understand the fundamental components of DNA and RNA, the molecules of genetics. Not only will this knowledge enrich your students’ appreciation for God’s creation, this subject can also be a springboard into many other scientific discussions in biology and even biotechnology.

So how do you go about presenting DNA and RNA in your homeschool?

DNA and RNA Basics

Since DNA and RNA are complex concepts, first build a solid foundation of understanding. Begin with the basics, explaining that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) are essential molecules that carry genetic information.

You can use simple, age-appropriate analogies to make these concepts more accessible. For example, compare DNA to a blueprint that holds all the information needed to build and operate a house (the cell), while RNA is like a set of instructions that are read from the blueprint to create different components of the house.

DNA and RNA Structure

Students should understand the structure of DNA and RNA. Use models, diagrams, and visual aids to explain how DNA is composed of two long chains of nucleotides twisted into a double helix. Meanwhile, RNA is a single-stranded molecule with a similar nucleotide structure.

Use simple craft projects to help students create DNA and RNA models, which can be a fun and hands-on way to reinforce their understanding of these molecules. Even older students will enjoy building models to help them better visualize the microscopic intricacies of DNA.

Extracting DNA from a strawberry or banana is a popular activity for all grades where students can follow the process and see the strands that contain the instruction manual directing the growth of the fruit.

The Function of DNA

Introduce the primary function of DNA. Explain that DNA is the hereditary material that contains the instructions for building and maintaining an organism. Encourage students to think of DNA as the “data bank” that holds the information necessary for life.

Connect this to the study of genetics and probability by creating a family tree or pedigree chart to show how genes are inherited and passed down through generations.

DNA replication is a fundamental process in genetics that enables cells to make copies of their DNA. To help students grasp this concept, use a hands-on activity. You can compare DNA replication to unzipping a zipper and then zipping it up again, with each zipper side serving as a template for creating a new strand of DNA. This will make the process of DNA replication more tangible and understandable for young learners.

Label a paper zipper model with A, T, C, and G cutout shapes to show how these nucleotides fit together like puzzle pieces. Explain that this DNA “alphabet” forms DNA “words” which join together to form the “sentences” we call genes.

Along with teaching DNA is the study of RNA. Explain that RNA acts as a messenger, carrying instructions from DNA to the cellular machinery that builds proteins.

Variations and Mutations in DNA

To make the lessons more engaging, introduce the concepts of variations and mutations. Explain that mutations are changes in the DNA code that appear during replication. These “edits” can result from various factors, including exposure to radiation or chemicals or may simply be an error in translation.

You can use simple, everyday examples like a typographical error in a book to help students understand how mutations can lead to genetic variation and sometimes diseases. Explore interesting variations such as why some people think cilantro tastes like soap.

Genetics in General

Bringing the world of genetics into real-life contexts can make learning more meaningful. Discuss how genetics plays a role in various aspects of life, from the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to understanding the genetic basis of inherited diseases.

Explore the work of famous geneticists and their contributions to the field, such as Gregor Mendel, James Watson and Francis Crick. You can even explore recent breakthroughs in genetics, like gene sequencing, cloning, and CRISPR gene editing, to showcase the evolving nature of the field.

DNA and RNA in Berean Builders Science Courses

We introduce Gregor Mendel in our Science in the Industrial Age course and explore DNA in our Science in the Atomic Age course and our Discovering Design with Biology.

Your homeschoolers will enjoy the conversational tone of our courses and the hands-on experiments we provide to bring science to life for your students. And as always, we provide plenty of resources and encouragement for you and are happy to answer any questions you or your students may have.

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Genetics and Probability: Homeschool Learning Resources

Homeschool life science and biology courses dive into the wonderful world of genetics and probability. While this can seem like a daunting subject, the courses at Berean Builders introduce these topics with conversational language and hands-on experiments to help students understand the complexities of how they work.

Family Genetics: Physical Traits and Medical History

You can begin to introduce the concept of genetics to your elementary school students by studying your own family and how some relatives carry the same hair color, eye color, or other traits through the generations.

And since our genetic makeup often determines our health and chances for medical problems, younger students can understand genetic tendencies to heart disease or other inherited issues in their family history.

Genetic Probability for Elementary Students

Heredity is complex and based on dominant and recessive gene characteristics, but your younger students can grasp probability with a simple activity using colored beads and a set of dice. Connect the colors to genetic traits and have them answer questions or create graphs related to how often a number or color appears.

You can also provide coins marked with various genetic traits and have the students keep up with the outcomes of a certain number of tosses. Include different traits, such as facial features, then have your student draw that face, or choose a pet and let probability determine its characteristics.

Of course, working with a small Punnett square can offer a clear comparison of simple traits that are dominant or recessive. Introduce Gregor Mendel, then use dog traits, flower traits, or even design-your-own-alien traits to make the activity fun.

Hands-On Genetics Experiments for Homeschool

Experiment with growing plants that can be cross-pollinated to chart leaf shapes or flower colors. Show how genetics is used in breeding programs to develop crops with desirable traits, such as drought resistance and higher yields. This microcosm of genetics can help students understand the bigger picture of traits in other plants, animals, and humans.

You can also cover animal husbandry to discuss how genetics is applied in animal breeding to enhance the quality of livestock throughout history and in modern day farming and ranching.

Teaching Genetics in High School

As your homeschool student moves into higher grades, you can expand the scope of study in genetics and probability. Include current events and related science announcements to encourage questions to research.

Explain the make-up of chromosomes and where genes are located. Explain that certain characteristics are carried only by X or Y chromosomes, making some traits (and diseases) more likely to appear in a specific gender. Show the basics of DNA structure and explore the double helix design. Include hands-on models to magnify the intricate workings of DNA.

Investigate blood types and how they are inherited, how transfusions work, and who can give blood to whom. Get an inexpensive blood-typing kit and test everyone in the family. This is another opportunity to sleuth out familial patterns as well as potential blood disorders that could appear in future generations.

Taking basic Mendelian concepts a step further, your student can explore more complex traits that involve multiple genes and environmental factors. These calculations require a bit more math knowledge and a few probability equations.

Explore how our environment affects our genetics. Can what we drink, eat, and breathe cause genetic mutations in our bodies? Knowing how mutations occur is a stepping stone to understanding how outside influences can cause changes in our bodies.

Introduce cloning and how the offspring are intended to be genetically identical to the parent. Open up a discussion about the ethics of genetic modification.

Notebooking Homeschool Genetics Lessons

We encourage you to have your students keep notebooks for their science courses. In these journals, your student can write, draw, paste pictures, and create charts and graphs of the interesting and important details they cover while learning about genetics. These notebooks are also excellent receptacles for experiment notes, plus they make great study tools for comprehension tests.

Homeschool Genetics from Berean Builders

Genetics surrounds us, and you can find many opportunities for your homeschool student to investigate and explore the great mysteries printed in our code of life.

Find genetics discussions and experiments in the following Berean Builders courses:

Science in the Industrial Age

Discovering Design With Biology

And if you have any questions about teaching genetics to your students, we are here to help with plenty of resources and reassurance.

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States of Matter: Homeschool Learning Resources

One exciting concept to explore in elementary and middle school homeschool is the states of matter. You can keep it simple for younger students and expand on the knowledge for a deeper exploration in middle school including non-Newtonian fluids and plasma.

Need some ideas about how to teach the states of matter for homeschool science? Let’s go!

What are the States of Matter?

Matter can exist in three primary states: solid, liquid, and gas. How the atoms and particles are arranged in a substance determines its state.

  1. Solid: In solids, particles are closely packed and have a fixed position. Solids have a definite shape and volume.
  2. Liquid: Liquid particles are more loosely arranged and can move past each other. Liquids have a volume that depends on temperature but take the shape of their container.
  3. Gas: Gaseous particles have a lot of space between them and move freely. Gases have a volume that depends on pressure and temperature but take the shape of their container
  4. Plasma: The most common state of matter in the universe, this very state makes up the Sun and stars. It consists of positively-charged particles and free electrons. While it can be made in a lab, it does not exist naturally on earth.
  5. Non-Newtonian Fluids: Solid or liquid? Yes! Depending on how much stress they are under, these fluids, like ketchup and oobleck, can take on the properties of a solid.

Learning About The States Of Matter

Start With Observation

One of the easiest ways to introduce your child to the states of matter is by engaging their natural sense of curiosity. Point out various objects during the day that show examples of the different states of matter. Pick up a rock or a stick on your walk. Touch the milk in the glass. Smell perfume or blow bubbles.

Use simple, everyday examples to illustrate the differences between the states of matter. Show how water can exist as ice (solid), liquid water, and steam (gas) at different temperatures.

Conduct Hands-On Experiments

Hands-on experiments are a powerful way to make abstract concepts more tangible. You can find experiments online, in books, and in our courses. Here are some simple experiments you can try:

  1. Freezing and Melting: Place water in an ice cube tray and observe how it changes from a liquid to a solid when you freeze it. Conversely, watch it melt back into a liquid when it warms up.
  2. Evaporation: Leave a container of water outside and monitor how it disappears over time, evaporating into the air.
  3. Balloons and Air: Blow up a balloon to illustrate the properties of a gas.
  4. Good Morning Coffee: A great way to start the day with states of matter is to observe the solid mug, the liquid coffee, and the steam rising from the coffee.
  5. Sublimation: Set out some dry ice and watch it turn directly to vapor.
  6. Oobleck: Explore the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid right in your kitchen.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids like diagrams, pictures, and videos can help reinforce the concepts of states of matter. Use diagrams to illustrate the arrangement of particles in solids, liquids, and gases. Videos can show real-world examples of matter transitioning between these states.

Put your student’s creativity to work in their notebooks as they document their understanding of the topic. Or have them create a collage of pictures representing the different states of matter.

Dive Deeper into Each State of Matter

Solids

Explore the properties of solids in more detail. Discuss how the particles in solids are tightly packed, leading to their fixed shape and volume. Here are some activities to reinforce this concept:

  1. Molecular Models: Use molecular modeling kits or household items like building blocks to create solid structures. This hands-on approach can help kids visualize the arrangement of particles in solids.
  2. Classification: Encourage your child to classify objects around the house as solids. Discuss their properties, such as rigidity and inability to flow.

Liquids

Investigate the properties of liquids and their transition from solid to liquid and vice versa. Some activities for this phase include:

  1. Mixing Liquids: Explore how different liquids mix and interact. For example, mix oil and water to show that they don’t readily blend.
  2. Water Cycle: Discuss the water cycle to explain how water can change from a liquid to a gas (evaporation) and back to a liquid (condensation).

Gases

Teach your child about the properties of gases and how they differ from solids and liquids. Activities to consider include:

  1. Invisible Gases: Discuss how gases are all around us, even though we can’t see them. Use simple examples like the air we breathe or the scent of a flower.
  2. Gas Expansion: Illustrate the concept of gas expansion by spraying some perfume in a room.

Plasma

Explain how the sun and stars are made up of plasma. Then bring the concept to life at home:

  1. Play with a plasma ball to observe how the gas inside interacts with the electric coil to make lightning-like arcs.

Relate States of Matter to the Real World

To make learning more relevant and interesting, connect the states of matter to real-life examples:

  1. Cooking: Explain how heat changes the state of matter in cooking, for instance, melting butter or boiling water.
  2. Weather: Discuss how temperature affects the state of water in the atmosphere, causing rain, snow, or clouds. If it’s winter, try to find a location where you can see snow, water, and clouds at the same time. Water in its three states of matter in one place!
  3. Phase Diagrams: Introduce phase diagrams to show how substances change states under varying temperature and pressure conditions.
  4. Gas Laws: For older students, you can explore gas laws like Boyle’s Law and Charles’s Law to explain how gases behave under different conditions.
  5. Tesla Coils: Investigate Tesla coils to learn more about the characteristics of plasma.

Understanding the states of matter is a basic concept for science students of all ages they can apply to higher knowledge throughout their lives.

States Of Matter With Berean Builders

If you are looking for an integrated and more in-depth curriculum to help your child learn about the states of matter, we recommend Science in the Beginning.

 

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Berean Builders: College Science Prep For Homeschoolers

homeschool students in college science lab

When your homeschool graduate gets to college, will they be ready for science?

How can you be sure?

Most of us remember science classes and labs in school. The smells, the jars and bottles of strange and wonderful substances and all those instruments! Plus mounds of new and exciting information.

Our teachers guided us through the systems and methods of high school science and lab work, and some of us took that to college where we realized…

We didn’t really know all that much about post-secondary science OR labs.

Our professors had to toss in some remedial instruction so we could succeed without blowing up the chemistry lab or cross-contaminating our petri dishes in the biology lab.

Not to mention the basic stuff we should have brought with us from high school.

And honestly, the last thing a college professor wants to do is fill in the blanks left by a high school teacher, no matter how talented that teacher was.

If you remember those days, or if you are concerned that you can’t possibly prepare your homeschooler for science in college, we’re here for you.

One of the most common homeschool parent worries is how to be sure their student is ready for college. And it’s a legitimate worry.

However, if you are presenting science courses from Berean Builders at home, your homeschooler is already getting college-prep science training.

College Prep Science For Homechoolers

First of all, Dr. Wile is a university professor.

He already knows the skills your student needs to be successful in college-level science.

Not only can Dr. Wile pass on this knowledge through the detailed material and extensive labs included in each Berean Builders science course, but he also helps students hone their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is vital, not only in science but in other subjects, as well as life after college.

Secondly, high school science is intended to give students a solid knowledge base on which they can build once they reach college.

This knowledge base is imperative.

In Dr. Wile’s words,

“You can’t stop to Google every time you have a problem.”

Some facts and processes need to be readily available in the quick access section of a student’s memory.

Berean Builders science courses build that base.

Your homeschool graduate will have the body of knowledge in their head that a university professor expects them to know.

Science courses from Berean Builders prepare students for college

The method behind our science courses combines comprehension checks throughout each lesson with reviews and knowledge tests at the end.

The reviews and tests help your student understand the facts presented, and the comprehension checks train your student how to think like a scientist.

These checks and reviews are balanced to help your student gain the facts they need and the thinking skills to apply them.

Why does this matter?

In order for your student to get the most out of college-level science courses and their associated labs, they can’t have facts at the exclusion of thinking skills, and vice versa.

Rote memorization may result in good grades in high school, but facts without critical thinking skills won’t help them advance in higher learning.

Conversely, thinking skills without facts won’t help them much either. Remember the Google comment above?

With Berean Builders, you can be confident you’ve provided your homeschool student the same level of instruction they would receive from high school college prep courses…if not better.

After all, they’ll be getting their high school education from a university professor. Which means your homeschool students will already be learning science skills at a college prep level.

University Professor On Standby For Your High Schooler

Not only that, Dr. Wile is easily accessible if your student has questions.

He’s only an email away, and he is eager to help his science students comprehend the concepts he presents in the courses.

Berean Builders brings science to your homeschool with professional labs designed to be conducted right at home.

To be sure your homeschool graduate has a well-rounded science education, include Berean Builders science courses in your planning for next year.

We’re here to help you determine the best sequence to present science subjects, and we’re looking forward to working with you as you help your student get ready for college and life beyond.

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Critical Thinking In Your Homeschool: Building Bereans

young woman holding book and thinking

As we say on our About page about Building Bereans:

Acts 17:11 says the Bereans received gospel information with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. We think that is exactly what education should be.

We want to help parents teach their children to become critical thinkers. We want to build continuing generations of Bereans who will seek the truth and build a life-long foundation on those guiding principles.

What Does It Mean to Build a Berean?

Diving deeper into this mission, the following explores the meaning behind being a Berean. In addition, we’ll discuss why these role models highlighted in Acts continue to demonstrate the firm desire behind our aims.

Although mentioned in Scripture, the term Berean is not recognized by the majority of homeschool families. However, the methodology is.

At the risk of using a tired term, homeschoolers who follow the Berean principle are raising critical thinkers.

And just like the Bereans of Paul’s day, these students take in information willingly. But their differentiation arises as they are encouraged to analyze the information critically before they reach a conclusion or make a judgment on the facts as presented.

Homeschooling With Dr. Wile’s Berean Style

Dr. Wile has taken information he learned while pursuing his PhD and, with this same Berean research and discernment, written his thoughts and opinions in his books.

However, he doesn’t intend for his students to take what he’s presented at face value. He encourages his charges to think critically about the facts and opinions he organized. By this action, his students become like the Bereans. As they hear the teachings and then examine both scriptures and other scientific research, students build their own library of independent thought.

Student Examples of Critical Thinking

In his writing, Dr. Wile offers examples of students who have looked thoughtfully and critically at a notion presented to them.

The Eagle

One student heard a sermon at church containing an object lesson about eagles. The story seemed inspiring and encouraged the listeners to welcome the often-difficult efforts required to change for the better.

However, the science of the story didn’t make sense to the student. He brought his questions to Dr. Wile for discussion.

In his article, Dr. Wile dissected the story, explaining the inconsistencies of the lesson with the facts of nature and biology.

The ultimate takeaway is that creative license may get in the way of the listener seeing the deeper meaning of the lesson as they try to understand the literal meaning of the tale.

In this case, Dr. Wile was pleased his student was diligent in his questioning and underscored the importance of critical thinking, not only in school lessons but also in everyday encounters with leaders and teachers.

The Question of Half-Life

A university student attending Dr. Wile’s chemistry course was introduced to the concept of half-life in radioactive decay. After listening to statistics that describe the time it takes for half the amount of a certain element to decay, the student asked a thoughtful question.

The time of decay is over 5000 years! So how can we know this to be true if we’ve not been measuring it for that long?

This critical thinking led to a lively discussion of how conventional science uses extrapolations to determine these time spans. Dr. Wile encourages his students to think for themselves and not simply accept conventional wisdom because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

Self-Esteem vs. The Truth

Elli, a talented musician, shared a fun quiz about musical knowledge on a social media feed. She’d scored 100% and was understandably happy. When several of her non-musical friends also scored 100%, Elli became suspicious.

She ran a few tests on the quiz and found that no matter her answers, she scored 100%!

Elli then announced to her friends the results of her investigation and astutely encouraged all her friends to keep their day jobs.

While this is a humorous example, the lesson is that some official-sounding presentations are meant to raise self-esteem without actually providing accurate results.

Only critical thinking can expose these feel-good exercises. And though this is a fun example, the deeper concern is that students may be encouraged to accept certain outcomes as fact when indeed the methods for reaching those outcomes should be questioned.

How You Can Apply Berean Principles In Your Homeschool

Encourage your students to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:21:

“But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.”

Dr. Wile expands on this verse by saying students should, “Examine all things and hold to what can be shown to be good and true even if one doesn’t want to examine the information presented.”

Often, students find it easier to follow the path of least resistance and simply accept what is taught, taking what is presented at face value.

But Dr. Wile reminds homeschool parents to help their children keep an open mind when taking in new information and research for deeper understanding.

Then the students can weigh any differing opinions and base their ultimate conclusions on their personal findings.

Hold What Is True

In addition, students should hold to what is true in order to be a good Christian.

Dr. Wile mentions Robert Boyle who said in his book The Sceptical Chymist,

Robert Boyle

“He whose faith never doubted may justly doubt of his faith.”

Although Boyle pursued scientific study, he never dismissed the importance of viewing the universe from a Christian viewpoint.

This allowed him to question the conventional wisdom of the day and use science to support the claims of Christianity.

Encouraging Scientists Who Are Christian

By providing open areas of inquiry and a solid Christian foundation, you give your student the gift of free thought and examination while yet holding fast to the good they uncover.

As your student is exposed to more information, even that which does not seem to fit certain paradigms you personally hold, you set them up to better understand the ideas as presented or even to create fresh ideas of their own.

Enough information will allow your student to know what scientists know or don’t know. This sets them on the path of being capable of judging the truth for themselves, just like the Bereans.

For, as Dr. Wile mentioned, clones do not advance science. Parroting back what is presented does not allow for free thought. Tests may only offer options in black and white, yet there are so many more colors of the spectrum your students can investigate.

They can learn what data appear the most meaningful or are more well-known. Your student can then draw clearer scientific conclusions with fewer mysterious deductions.

Robert Boyle wrote, “God would not have made the universe as it is unless He intended us to understand it.”

Building Bereans takes patience and a willingness to allow your student to explore the world around them, compare contrasting viewpoints, and draw their own conclusions.

As one of Dr. Wile’s students said, “I’m still not sure where I land on the whole creation/evolution issue, but I still appreciate the information I got from your books.”

He says in one of his articles,

“…listening to serious scholars who disagree with you is an important part of the process of critical thinking. The only way I can properly evaluate my positions is to listen to those who disagree with them.”

As we continue to build Bereans, we can see the wisdom in this.

 

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The Periodic Table: Homeschool Learning Resources

the periodic table

Arguably one of the greatest contributions to the field of chemistry, the periodic table of the elements is more than just a graphical arrangement of symbols and numbers. Who was responsible for this monument of scientific history? And how can we as scientists make the most of the periodic table in our studies?

What is the periodic table of the elements?

The periodic table is a structured grouping of the 118 identified elements in our world. The table is organized into rows called periods and columns called groups. The groups contain elements that have similar chemical behavior.

Each block on the periodic table is a snapshot of one element that lists its:

  1. Chemical symbol
  2. Atomic number
  3. Average atomic mass of its isotopes.

You can investigate the periodic table to find patterns for yourself.

In a given period, the farther to the right the element is on the table, the smaller it is, the more electronegative it is, and the higher its ionization energy. By contrast, in a given group, the farther down the element is, the larger it is, the less electronegative it is, and the lower its ionization energy.

You will also find that the elements can be separated into metals, nonmetals, and metalloids. Most periodic tables use color to identify these categories, but the elements far to the left are metals, the ones to the far right are nonmetals, and some of the elements in between are metalloids.

The periodic table is a wonderful resource for solving chemistry problems and equations.

 

The names and letter symbols of the elements come from various sources such as 

  1. Latin (aurum for Au – Gold or natrium for Na – Sodium) 
  2. Greek (kryptos/stranger for Krypton or baris/heavy for Barium)
  3. Other languages (Spanish platina/little silver for Platinum or the old Anglo-Saxon/Celtic word ludaihe for Lead and the Latin word plumbum which became lead’s symbol Pb)
  4. People (Curium or Einsteinium)
  5. Places (Americium or Ytterbium)
  6. Planets and Asteroids (Plutonium or Cerium)

In addition to using this valuable resource for high school chemistry, younger homeschool students can familiarize themselves with the periodic table through word and number games, or hands-on discovery of elements around them.

  • Find interactive tables that list actual everyday uses for all of the most common elements, and let your students find these common items around your home.
  • Use the chemical symbols on the periodic table to spell words or create puzzles.
  • Decorate graphic artwork or create fun science-related greeting cards with chemical symbols.
  • Color the periodic table based on a properties key.
  • Find books about the periodic table to bring the information to life.
  • Create a card deck of the elements and make up games.
  • Use sticky notes to build a periodic table on the wall as your students learn new elements.

How many more fun ways can you find for your younger students to explore the periodic table?

The History of the Periodic Table

So how did we get this graphic marvel of modern chemistry?

Dmitri Mendeleev gets credit for organizing the elements into his periodic table in 1869, Previous earlier attempts by other scientists rarely get noticed, but were excellent examples of people trying to wrangle the elements into some semblance of order.

Way back in 1789, Antoine Lavosier began listing certain substances he believed were broken down as far as they could be. He called these substances “simples”.

Then John Dalton produced a table in 1805 of atomic masses derived from mixing elements to determine what they created. Although the measurements were primitive since the ratios were unknown, Dalton did develop the atomic theory.

In 1862, Alexandre-Emile Beguyer de Chancourtois devised a 3D model he called a telluric screw. This device, when rotated, displayed the atomic weights of certain elements at regular intervals and clearly showed a “periodic” occurrence of these weights.

John Newlands also noticed patterns among the atomic weights of elements and created an arrangement in 1865. His Law of Octaves compared these patterns with musical notes arranged in scales. The reason he used intervals of 7 is because the noble gasses hadn’t been discovered yet, and didn’t leave spaces for future discoveries. But he was on the right track and eventually got credit for his discovery.

Around the same time as Mendeleev was designing his periodic patterns, Julius Lothar Meyer recognized the periodicity of elements. At first, he played with just a few elements and made a chart of how they combined with each other, then later added the transition metals. His chart was very similar to the one Mendeleev published, but Meyer’s work was published a year later, so he deferred to Dmitri as the first.

Mendeleev sorted and arranged the elements into the original precursor table of our current table. He intuitively placed elements in their places based on their atomic weights as well as their properties in relation to similar elements. Since he was fond of card games, Dmitri initially used paper cards with atomic weights and arranged elements into groups he called “suits”.

An important feature of his table were the gaps he left for undiscovered elements and he even made predictions as to the characteristics of five of them. These predictions turned out to be accurate. Then when the noble gasses were discovered in the 1890s, they fit right into the table, further proving Mendeleev’s work.

It turns out, Dmitri’s table even anticipated and provided evidence to prove atomic structure, something scientists of the time had not discovered.

Mendeleev said of his discoveries:

“Before the promulgation of this law, the chemical elements were mere fragmentary, incidental facts in Nature. The law of periodicity first enabled us to perceive undiscovered elements at a distance which was inaccessible to chemical vision.”

He also said:

“Elements arranged according to the size of their atomic weights show clear periodic properties. All comparisons which I have made…lead me to conclude that the size of the atomic weight determines the nature of the elements.”

Finally, in 1913, Henry Moseley used x-rays to measure the wavelengths emitted by certain elements and then used a frequency calculation to figure out that atomic number actually represents the number of protons in the atoms that make up the elements.

Even in 1945 scientists were still making new discoveries and expanding the usefulness of the table. Glenn Seaborg made a discovery concerning a group of elements that modified the arrangement of one portion of the table, giving us the current version.

The Periodic Table in your homeschool

As you can see, many scientists contributed to the methodical organization of the elements in our world, and the periodic table continues to evolve today. With Mendeleev’s periodic law, the table continues to provide opportunities to discover new elements, and the periodic table as we know it today is a most useful scientific tool.

You will explore the periodic table of the elements more in our courses Science in the Atomic Age and  Discovering Design With Chemistry.