Recently, we were offered the opportunity to review Science Shepherd‘s Science Shepherd Life Science, via the Schoolhouse Review Crew (TOS). What a complete and full life science curriculum!
What is Science Shepherd?
Science Shepherd is a science curriculum company which was started by a homeschool dad, Dr. Scott Hardin (who has a bachelor’s degree in science and is also a practicing physician), as his children were approaching high school age and he was concerned about what he saw as a lack of exceptional science curricula for older homeschooled students. This company has produced both biology and life science courses (for older students), plus an introductory science course for younger ones. Dr. Hardin’s hope was that with these materials, parents who were intimidated about teaching high school science courses would be able to teach them successfully while their children learned the necessary science concepts.
What is the Science Shepherd Life Science course?
The Science Shepherd Life Science is a complete life science course for middle school and junior high school students. The course includes three components:
- The Science Shepherd Life Science hardback textbook
- The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet (softcover)
- The Science Shepherd Life Science Answer Key & Parent Companion (softcover)
The Science Shepherd Life Science Textbook
This textbook contains 19 chapters which cover key life science topics. Here’s just a sampling of the rich information covered here:
- Characteristics and chemistry of life
- Cells; their membranes, interiors, and reproduction
- DNA; its structure and function
- Evolution and Creation
- Scientific Classification (from bacteria and viruses to plants and animals)
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- and more!
The pages are glossy with a nice finish, and each page has interesting photos or great diagrams on the material being presented. The chapters are divided into segments (4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and so on), and scientific terms are in boldface print. Each chapter begins with a number of questions to be answered and ends with definitions of terms discussed in each one. In addition, chapters close with a list of study questions which students can answer (although they’ll need to provide their own paper, a spiral notebook, or a binder if they’d like to write the answers). The book starts with the definition and characteristics of life, and moves into more intricate areas as the chapters progress.
The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet
The Science Shepherd Life Science Test Booklet is designed to be used alongside the life science textbook. Every few chapters, the textbook will refer the parent and student to take the accompanying test in the test booklet. There are 9 tests in the booklet, which cover all the chapters in the book. The test questions are all essay or short answer. Students can actually write in the booklet, as there are spaces left under each question.
This test booklet is designed to show mastery of the science learned; that the student really understands what he has been studying. Parents may assign all, or some, of the questions, and they can be answered by the student either orally or in written form. If students learn and know the definitions at the end of each chapter in the textbook, and can completely answer the study questions there, they ought to be able to successfully complete the questions in the test booklet.
The Science Shepherd Life Science Answer Key & Parent Companion
This book might just be one of the more effective teacher’s guide for parents that I’ve ever seen! It contains a 5-day schedule for each of the 36 weeks it takes to complete the Science Shepherd Life Science textbook, with sections assigned for daily reading. There are also days scheduled for the students to answer the chapters’ study questions, and take the tests. So many parents will simply be able to follow this schedule to complete the course in one school year.
Also, it contains an answer key for both the study questions and the tests. Last but not least, the entire second half of the book walks parents step-by-step through what is covered in each textbook chapter. It has all the sections covered in each chapter reprinted in this book; but here, it has the answers for each question in addition to the definitions and explanations. So, parents can use this book alongside their students without having to borrow the textbook from their children.
How we used this:
We intended to use this life science course for our main science spine during the review period…which we did. There is SO much that I love about Science Shepherd. It is written from the perspective of the truthfulness of God’s Word, and the evolution theory being a complete contrast to Genesis’ account of creation. So, that perspective informs the science taught from the first chapter all the way through the end.
However, I discovered that it was a much more difficult course than I had anticipated. It is designed for middle school or junior high school students (which I have; my son Jackson, who used this course, is an 8th grader). We struggled to find just the right way for him to study it. We began by using the recommended schedule in the Answer Key & Parent Companion. But it became apparent that that was too much information, covered too quickly for us. So we cut down the reading a bit, which helped some, but we still needed to find a way for him to read and absorb the information at the same time.
I finally had the idea to create some worksheets, where Jackson could write in definitions, draw diagrams, and list pertinent information as he was reading. Jackson also utilized some blank notebooking pages. (Neither of these is included in the curriculum.) Bonanza! This was what we had needed all along. Suddenly, the scientific material that had sort of swirled around his head became concrete, visual, and understandable. And an added bonus was that now, he was creating his own study sheets for the tests!
Science Shepherd Life Science is well-written and well-organized. We would say that it is a challenging program for middle-schoolers, but that it IS doable by them. It will require diligent study, but the rewards of that study will be appreciated; and the curriculum really prepares students for more difficult high school science courses later on.
If you’re looking for a rigorous homeschool science curriculum that is Biblically-based for your children, try Science Shepherd. It is beautifully designed and has great resources for the parent/teacher. (We just recommend that you somehow find a way for your student to involve writing as he studies. This will help in both retention and understanding.)
You may purchase both Science Shepherd Life Science and other science courses from Science Shepherd.
Visit Science Shepherd at their social media sites:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ScienceShepherd/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/scienceshepherd
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/scienceshepherd