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High School Chemistry part 3: Resources for Teaching Chemistry

Chemistry resources are not always limited to what you see in a homeschooling catalog or at a homeschool convention, so here are a few for you to print and save until you need them.

ChemCom: Chemistry in the Community by the American Chemical Society.  This popular high school level, college prep text is a completely new approach to the topic.  It is not a watered down version but is a good preparation for the SAT II: Chemistry exam.  It covers all of the usual topics, a little more organic chemistry, and a little less physical chemistry.  Going from one chemistry related problem in the community to another, a student studies the theory necessary to deal with the problem.  Lab is done frequently throughout the year and is included in the text.

General Chemistry by Jean Umland:  This college level text is written at the 10th grade reading level.  Designed for high ability, average readers who are college freshmen, this book is a good choice for future science and engineering majors who are homeschooling through high school.  Tested by some homeschoolers in Houston who reported in to the author, this book can be used in self-teaching situations.  It comes with a student study guide, a CD ROM, and keys.  Have your student use this text and prepare for the Advanced Placement test in May.

Chemistry by Jane Chisholm and Mary Johnson.  An excellent summary of the basic parts of chemistry: matter, atoms, physical changes, chemical changes, reactions, metals, acids and bases, organic chemistry, formulas, experiments, and more.  This would be a good book to read to your children leading into discussions.  Usborne recommends age eleven and up.  Fifth grade through seventh seems like a good range.  Some experiments are included.  I was unable to find this on the internet currently in print, but it looks like one that you should be able to find at your local library.

The World of Chemistry is a set of video lessons teaching an introductory course at the non-science major, college level freshman year.  A scaled down version for public high school is also available.  I have seen one episode of the high school version and it seemed to be fairly clear and simple.  The set of videos can be purchased in 26 half hour lessons separately or as an entire course.  There are correlating texts available.

Books of experiments and kits:
Doing high school chemistry at home means doing lab, too.  You can do chemistry lab at home easily!  There are many good lab manuals on the market.  Here are a few.  A good place to go for ideas is to a local college bookstore.  There, you will find an entry-level lab manual, perhaps even one using little or no extra equipment.

Chemistry Experiments by Mary Johnson.  An excellent book of experiments using simple home equipment and chemicals.  The experiments use some imaginative methods to keep the equipment within the common type found around the home.  Some explanations and safety recommendations seem to be too brief.  Recommended.

The Usborne Book of Science Experiments by Jane Bingham.  This book of experiments is for older children (ten and up), and as you would expect, the experiments are more difficult than the Science Activity book above.  Physics, chemistry, and technology are some of the topics.  This would be a good manual to use at the junior high level for science lab (not the text).  Please have the child make a write-up of the experiments he performs, though, with an emphasis on the conclusion step to check for understanding of the principle.  Recommended.

Experiences in Chemistry by Kathleen Julicher.  This is a laboratory manual written specifically for home and other small schools.  At the secondary level, the manual meets requirements for a high school chemistry lab, but can be used at the junior high level with interested students.   Equipment and chemical kits are available to homeschoolers from Home Science Tools.  The simple experiments are based on sound fundamentals and the questions relate the principles to everyday life. 

Cooking and Science by Joseph Julicher.  This workbook uses some classic recipes to teach fundamental chemistry.  Equipment is simple since you already have it in your kitchen.  Prelab and postlab questions require high school level knowledge of chemistry.

Chemical Magic from the Grocery Store by Andy Sae.  Fifty-nine activities are in this book, all designed to generate curiosity about chemistry, demonstrate principles, and dispel “chemophobia.”  Not designed to be a comprehensive lab manual for high school students, it is still full of activities that can be done at home and with little material.

A Laboratory Manual: Experience the Extraordinary Chemistry of Ordinary Things  by B. Coburn Richardson and Thomas G. Chasteen.  This is a lab manual designed for the non-science oriented kid.  There are twenty-seven well-explained experiments.  These labs were chosen for their interest, use of normal things (like aluminum cans) familiarity of reactions, and challenge, although some of the labs require lab equipment most homeschoolers will not have.

MicroChemistry by Tom Russo.  These lab manuals are designed to get students a taste of chemistry lab without the amount of chemicals usually used in laboratories.  The students use very small portion and instead of test tubes, use plastic depression plates.  I have used several of the experiments out of Book I and enjoyed its clarity of explanation.  Comes with a teacher’s guide with complete details about preparing the chemicals and lab equipment.  Also has levels II and III available.
Essential Chemistry by Clive Gifford.  Filled with the key principles of chemistry, this book could easily be a study guide for high school chemistry.  This book is very good and concise in its writing.

Dictionary of Chemistry by Jane Wertheim, Chris Oxlade and Dr. John Waterhouse.  Usborne recommends using this book as a dictionary supplement to a textbook and as a review guide.  Both of those sound like an excellent way to use a book filled with well-made charts and easy to understand commentary.  A bonus in the appendix is the list of good experiments.  Some of these can be done at home with a few moderate equipment purchases.

Magazines and More:
ChemMatters by the American Chemical Society.  This is a great little magazine for the chemistry student.  The publication is sixteen pages full of anecdotes and interesting stories concerning chemistry in the world around us.  You can subscribe to the magazine for $14 for a year (4 issues) or read selected articles online.

Cliff Notes: Chemistry  This online guide is pretty fundamental and has most of the topics from high school chemistry.  Missing some detail, it can serve as an alternative way to review some chemistry, not as a primary source.

Part 1: High School Chemistry
Part 2: Myths about Teaching Chemistry