Chemistry is a subject that can be engaging and fun with the right curriculum. However, finding the perfect course package can be challenging! Homeschooling parents often want to step beyond what takes place in the classroom, but where do you begin?
There are pages of learning outcomes for every subject, but it’s essential to make sure that it embodies the spirit of homeschooling and other types of supplemental learning. That’s why in this article, we’ve focussed on the soft skills that you develop when learning chemistry. Building your lesson plans around these critical skillsets means your child will feel more confident to handle the challenges of any subject in university!
In the area of each soft skill, we’ve defined the learning outcomes described by British Columbia’s curriculum plans for both Chemistry 11 and 12 as they were the most updated. We’ve also provided resource options for each section to build your student’s curiosity and passion for chemistry! Finally, we offer links to the curriculum outcomes for each province, where you’ll find links for textbooks that teach the “hard skills” - the facts and theories that your child should learn for each grade.
At Beyond Learning, we understand the challenges of getting your child set up for success in homeschooling, especially in Canada, where fewer options are available. Not only that, the pandemic makes connecting with the homeschooling community incredibly difficult.
We want to help make things easier for you and your learner!
From now until June 30th, 2021, we’re offering free, online on-demand prep courses to get ready for the next school year. These courses come with lessons, worksheets and the ability to get in touch with an instructor if you need extra support. This offer is perfect for student enrichment, homeschooling and flexible learning and will help get your child set up for success in the next school year.
Developing “Soft Skills”
Focus has shifted in provincial curriculum guidelines to emphasize soft skills - these are the skills that are most transferable into other aspects of life. From communication and planning to questioning and analyzing, chemistry is rife with opportunities to help develop students’ critical thinking for university.
This section will detail the different soft skill outcomes as described by British Columbia’s curriculum outcomes. We chose their resources as it’s most readily available, current, and detailed for parents looking to build their child’s coursework. We’ll describe their measurements of success in more detail and go over some resources that can help foster growth in each area.
Questioning and Predicting
By Chemistry 11, students should begin to develop intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem. This could be at any level: a personal issue, a community objective, or a global crisis. Exploration into these issues leads to observations: how can these issues be solved? Through the scientific method, you help guide your child through increasingly abstract questions and comments about the natural world.
For example, starting with a question like “what are the main contributors to global warming?” students can go down a path that develops theories around renewable energy resources and the social/cultural consequences of these changes.
Finally, after their explorations, students are expected to formulate hypotheses and predict multiple outcomes. This skill takes the abstract questions learners may have about the world around them and converts them into a workable experiment where they can determine whether their predictions were correct. If they weren’t, they could then decide what may have contributed to the experiment’s outcome.
These skills can be tough to develop through a textbook and distance learning alone. So how can your child spark their interest in chemistry that leads to these explorations?
You can start by getting your family involved in different interests and hobbies in the community. From these entry points, your children can learn more about what they find interesting and use it to develop theories and solutions surrounding the issues in their subject area. Here are a few different outings that can spark interest in chemistry and exploration into the natural world:
1 - Salmon Hatchery
2 - Bird Sanctuary (If you’re local to BC, there’s one in Richmond!)
3 - Trips to the forest to identify plant and mushroom species (find books here)
4 - Gardening! Look online for a variety of community gardens and learn from pros about soil mixes and PH levels
5 - Owning a fish tank (maintenance requires chemical testing and balancing, even at a small size!)
Planning and Conducting
The planning and conducting category refers to the actual development of scientific experiments. British Columbia’s Ministry of Education indicates that by Grade 11, students should take the “hard skills” learned in earlier years of science classes to develop their experiments both in a group and individually. Learners should be familiar with the scientific method and use it to create, plan and collect reliable data (qualitative and quantitative) to create a helpful study.
The essential part of this skill set recognizes the impacts the experiments can have on the environment and the community where they conduct the study. Students who develop these skills are ready for university, where they’ll need to reflect on the ramifications of their research in every class they take.
You can start building these skills without conducting elaborate experiments. One way we’d recommend getting students thinking about the impacts of research is to pull news articles that talk about recent studies and ask the following questions:
1 - Why was this study conducted?
2 - Who would benefit from this research?
3 - Can you find any potential problems with the data?
4 - What is the impact this research has on the surrounding community?
If you’re ready to go beyond the planning stages and conquer some home chemistry experiments, you’ll need to invest in equipment. Luckily, there are many kits out there that make things easier and more affordable for parents. Here are a few great places to start:
Switched-On Schoolhouse Lab Kit (SOS)
This kit has everything you need to get your child set up to conduct experiments at home. There’s also a curriculum book that you can add to help maximize the use of the equipment.
Additionally, the website that carries the Lab Kit - Home Science Tools, has over 75 products meant for students in upper-level chemistry that help them explore and carry out experiments in many different areas of interest!
The Green Teacher has various free lesson plans that get students outside that also use minimal lab equipment. If you want access to more resources, they offer quarterly newsletters, books and a podcast.
Processing and Analyzing Data and Information
Processing and analyzing data doesn’t take place in just the classroom! According to the learning outcomes for chemistry, students should bring in other ways of knowing and local knowledge as sources of information, emphasizing First Peoples perspectives.
After they’ve analyzed community perspectives, they’ll combine it with their data analysis. Some ways they can describe data include graphing, charts and quantitative analysis. They can use this to identify patterns.
From these patterns, your learner will need to combine the community perspectives and knowledge with their quantitative data to reach reasonable conclusions about the experiment they conducted.
Under the learning outcomes described for Chemistry 11 and 12, the term “evaluating” covers critical thinking both inside and outside the classroom when building a well-rounded program for your child. Addressing actual world application of student learning can help your child see where they can use chemistry skills outside of their lessons.
Within the classroom, learners should understand the process of their experiments. Could there be errors? Are there better ways to collect data?
Evaluating also includes the nature of their experimental conditions and data quality. From these decisions, students need to conclude whether their study was valid and discuss their biases.
As students learn and explore, they need to demonstrate consideration of the changes in their knowledge and connect this to future careers and areas of development. While they work through problems, they need to analyze the social, ethical and environmental implications of the findings from their experiments and those of other researchers.
Teaching data analysis and evaluation at home is no easy task. Luckily, there’s a lot of fantastic, free resources out there to help support you!
Khan Academy offers free instruction on all sorts of math concepts, and teachers recommend it to support learners through challenging content. We’ve added the link for their statistics courses, but there’s a wealth of knowledge available!
BC Open Textbook
BC teachers created this resource to connect students with high-quality, free textbook resources. We’ve linked the statistics section, but there are several other great offerings as well.
BioInteractive offers data and free experiments to help students visualize statistical data and draw conclusions.
Core Concepts: Chemistry Education Outcomes for Grades 11 and 12
There are a lot of education outcomes for students learning chemistry in Grades 11 and 12. Instead of going through each province’s requirements, we’ve put together a list of links here so you can access their information.
British Columbia - Grade 11 and Grade 12
Quebec - not available
Newfoundland and Labrador - Grade 11 and Grade 12
Manitoba - Grade 11 and Grade 12
Nova Scotia - Grade 11 and Grade 12
Saskatchewan - Physical Science 20 and Chemistry 30
Prince Edward Island - Grade 11 and Grade 12
Ontario - Complete Science Curriculum
This article went over the soft skills that students are to develop in higher-level chemistry courses. We believe that by emphasizing these skill areas, homeschooling parents can visualize course content for their learners and step outside the textbook. We also provided both free and paid resources for parents to use for each area of skill development.
Chemistry education is essential for students wanting to head into college or university, regardless of whether they wish to pursue science further. For parents, developing lessons that hold their child’s interest can be challenging. We know that keeping learners supported and ready to learn is a difficult task!
At Beyond Learning, we want to make it easier for Canadian parents to find the information they need to support and educate their kids. That’s why we offer flexible learning opportunities in a broad range of school subjects such as English, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. In addition to these offerings, we’re also allowing parents to check out our content by giving free on-demand courses for the rest of the school year!
One of our featured on-demand courses is Chemistry 11, a class covering seven units: Introduction, Matter, Atomic Theory, Stoichiometry/Mole, Chemical Naming, Chemical Reactions, and Solutions. You can sign up for a free, limited-time, all-access account so you can see where we can fit into your homeschooling plan. Check out our on-demand page to get started!
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