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Homeschool High School Lab Science

Why would anyone skip Biology Lab? What could possibly be more fun than dissecting critters and peeping through a microscope, and what is a lab science anyway?

Lab science

Biology lab can be a lot of fun, but it's also fairly expensive, which is something I discuss in my Special Report, 7 Secrets to Homeschooling Though a Financial Storm. Holly read the report and had a follow up question.
Dear Lee,
I just read your special report and think it was very well done.  Lots of great tips for saving money and giving parents confidence to strike out on their own a bit more. I was surprised to see that you suggested skipping Biology or doing it with media applications (online or video) instead of hands-on.  In Arizona, the state universities are very particular about the high school sciences being first-hand LAB courses.  This is something that I have stressed with my contacts and in my workshops--not just Biology, but any high school science needs to be documented actual lab work.  Tell me what you have encountered that puts a lighter emphasis on the labs. Is this more a state-by-state emphasis or is there more of a trend toward "softer" science coursework?  Keep up the good work.  You are doing many of the things that I dream of doing and can't make happen all by myself.
~Holly in Arizona

I'm a trained nurse, so it is surprising to see me suggest that dropping biology lab is an option! I loved biology and especially the biology labs! I think it's important to remember how financially desperate people can be in this economy. It's better to drop a biology lab than not do biology at all or worse, to stop homeschooling entirely because of concerns about science costs.

Public universities sometimes have very different requirements than colleges as a whole. Because I have to gear my message to "general" college preparation, I urge parents to check requirements at the colleges their child is planning to attend.  Some colleges requires lab sciences be taught in a classroom with a certified teacher, for example.

Surprisingly, there is also no national definition for what a lab science is. The US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology formed the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education issued a report about lab science, and it is remarkably clear in their conclusion. National Research Council's America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science states:
"The NRC report committee concluded that there exists no commonly agreed upon definition of laboratories in high schools amongst researchers and educators."

Most colleges do not require documented lab sciences. Some colleges do. Usually a college that has specific science requirements will also provide a specific method to achieve it. Perhaps they will allow the ACT science portion to meet the requirement, or they will accept an SAT Subject Test or AP exam in an area of science.

There are many colleges that don't require excessive math or science. Perhaps their emphasis is on music, art, or a specific trade, and general sciences will meet their admission requirements. In general, when I look over college preparation sites, they don't mention taking a lab science every year as a requirement.

It's a good idea to make parents aware if the public university in your area has a greater emphasis on lab sciences. I think it's also important to remember that colleges are rarely specific about WHICH sciences, and it's OK for parents to include some delight directed science courses along with the more ordinary biology-chemistry-physics choices. For more information, check out my article, You CAN Teach High School Science Labs!

Which lab science are you choosing to cover in your homeschool high school? Please share in the comments!

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Please note: This post was originally published in November 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Homeschool College - Do Community Colleges Accept ...
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Comments 20

Guest - Angela on Wednesday, 06 August 2014 20:42

We dissected a mouse today that was killed by our dog yesterday. It was great & low cost! We did pay for the dissection kit, but I knew we would need it for years to come. It wasn't my 15 or 13yo who requested this dissection (although they liked it), it was my 6yo. He loves dissecting things and seeing what's inside.

We dissected a mouse today that was killed by our dog yesterday. It was great & low cost! We did pay for the dissection kit, but I knew we would need it for years to come. It wasn't my 15 or 13yo who requested this dissection (although they liked it), it was my 6yo. He loves dissecting things and seeing what's inside.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Wednesday, 06 August 2014 21:14

Angela,
I think it must be only homeschoolers who think that's a good idea! I'm impressed! I have never used an animal that died in our home, because they are always known "personally"!

Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Angela, I think it must be only homeschoolers who think that's a good idea! I'm impressed! I have never used an animal that died in our home, because they are always known "personally"! Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Ariana on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 15:22

Knowing which college to look at for specific science requirements made me wonder if there is a flow chart of sorts that helps you decide which type of college(or not) is best suited for your student? Maybe yes, no answers to indicate, public, private, community college, certification courses, in state, out of state, etc.

And maybe even a flow chart for types of high school credits to earn- CLEP, AP, dual enrollment, online, virtual school, co-op classes, home based, tutor etc.

Maybe even which standardized tests are best suited to your student- SAT, ACT, PSAT etc.

Is there anything like that out there? Maybe on pinterest? I haven't seen one yet.

Thanks!

Knowing which college to look at for specific science requirements made me wonder if there is a flow chart of sorts that helps you decide which type of college(or not) is best suited for your student? Maybe yes, no answers to indicate, public, private, community college, certification courses, in state, out of state, etc. And maybe even a flow chart for types of high school credits to earn- CLEP, AP, dual enrollment, online, virtual school, co-op classes, home based, tutor etc. Maybe even which standardized tests are best suited to your student- SAT, ACT, PSAT etc. Is there anything like that out there? Maybe on pinterest? I haven't seen one yet. Thanks!
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Thursday, 27 March 2014 14:34

That would be very nice, Ariana! I can't imagine what that would look like, since (as Lee says) Each College is Unique. Maybe some day...

Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

That would be very nice, Ariana! I can't imagine what that would look like, since (as Lee says) Each College is Unique. Maybe some day... Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 07:01

Mary,
You will get more information in this article: http://www.thehomescholar.com/high-school-science-labs.php. There is no definition on what a lab science is, so YOU get to decide for your own students. However, many high schools across the country to have video dissections for some labs. I think it sounds like a perfectly reasonable lab.
Blessings,
Lee

Mary, You will get more information in this article: http://www.thehomescholar.com/high-school-science-labs.php. There is no definition on what a lab science is, so YOU get to decide for your own students. However, many high schools across the country to have video dissections for some labs. I think it sounds like a perfectly reasonable lab. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Mary on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 15:25

I guess this is a follow-up to what Colleen asked or just a clarification. Generally speaking, video dissections can be counted as labs? if your child is not going into a science based career?

thanks

I guess this is a follow-up to what Colleen asked or just a clarification. Generally speaking, video dissections can be counted as labs? if your child is not going into a science based career? thanks
Guest - Lee (website) on Friday, 23 November 2012 07:39

Colleen,
You can read my full article about lab sciences here: http://www.thehomescholar.com/high-school-science-labs.php. Some public schools can't afford lab kits, and they use videos. Independent homeschoolers get to choose what is best for their children.
Blessings,
Lee

Colleen, You can read my full article about lab sciences here: http://www.thehomescholar.com/high-school-science-labs.php. Some public schools can't afford lab kits, and they use videos. Independent homeschoolers get to choose what is best for their children. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Colleen on Thursday, 22 November 2012 05:12

Do the video labs count? We buy those as the kits were way too expensive. I thought that as long as the child had the lab workbook and filled it out as they watched the video that it would count for lab. Now I've been told that isn't true, that the student has to get their hands dirty.

Do the video labs count? We buy those as the kits were way too expensive. I thought that as long as the child had the lab workbook and filled it out as they watched the video that it would count for lab. Now I've been told that isn't true, that the student has to get their hands dirty.
Guest - Lee (website) on Thursday, 18 October 2012 12:47

There is no real definition of what a high school lab science entails. If you would like support, become a member of the Gold Care Club and we can discuss it: http://www.thehomescholar.com/gold-care.php. The issues can be complicated, and it really depends on your situation.
Blessings,
Lee

There is no real definition of what a high school lab science entails. If you would like support, become a member of the Gold Care Club and we can discuss it: http://www.thehomescholar.com/gold-care.php. The issues can be complicated, and it really depends on your situation. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Donna on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 11:33

Hi, We work with horses,my high school girls go to the barn almost every day. last year we were riding as a p.e. class.
we actually have two equine classes one happens to be equine science and equine horsemanship.

While the girls have a lot of hands on things with the horses this year was rough, our personal horse coliced and then foundered and then had to be put down. Lots of people asked what i did for school for the last two weeks while we took care of him 24/7 and i replied it is science. hands on/lab science. tempature, injections, caring for a sick horse...now i am havng second thoughts can i use that as a lab?

thank you for imput

Hi, We work with horses,my high school girls go to the barn almost every day. last year we were riding as a p.e. class. we actually have two equine classes one happens to be equine science and equine horsemanship. While the girls have a lot of hands on things with the horses this year was rough, our personal horse coliced and then foundered and then had to be put down. Lots of people asked what i did for school for the last two weeks while we took care of him 24/7 and i replied it is science. hands on/lab science. tempature, injections, caring for a sick horse...now i am havng second thoughts can i use that as a lab? thank you for imput
Guest - Lee (website) on Friday, 10 September 2010 06:56

Science IS required for admission by almost all colleges. Some colleges allow some flexibility, and others are more specific about the types of science or the lab experiences they require.

Most colleges also require 3-4 years of math - as possible for the student. Some colleges allow some flexibility on WHAT math you teach, and others are more specific, and want to see Algebra 2 or Pre-calculus.

Here is an article that may help you think about math:
http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/why-is-math-important/22/

Blessings,
Lee

Science IS required for admission by almost all colleges. Some colleges allow some flexibility, and others are more specific about the types of science or the lab experiences they require. Most colleges also require 3-4 years of math - as possible for the student. Some colleges allow some flexibility on WHAT math you teach, and others are more specific, and want to see Algebra 2 or Pre-calculus. Here is an article that may help you think about math: http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/why-is-math-important/22/ Blessings, Lee
Guest - edutext (website) on Friday, 10 September 2010 06:20

I'm quite surprised that science isn't required by more universities, because it's probably the most wide covering subject studied. Only basic maths is ever needed in a regular job (and not even that anymore) and obviously English is important but science covers a lot more of what we actually understand in life.

I'm quite surprised that science isn't required by more universities, because it's probably the most wide covering subject studied. Only basic maths is ever needed in a regular job (and not even that anymore) and obviously English is important but science covers a lot more of what we actually understand in life.
Guest - Angie on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 07:06

Food Chemistry is a great way to get some chemistry into our students. I love the Magic School Bus series that deal with more aspects of science. We need to think more out of the box when describing life experiences that have taught our students more than what can be taught in less than 170 hours in a classroom setting...

Describing a child's passion in terms of what they have learned is a much better approach to science. Observations, experiments and the all important recapping of their experiences in a written form are excellent ways of accomplishing lab work.

Food Chemistry is a great way to get some chemistry into our students. I love the Magic School Bus series that deal with more aspects of science. We need to think more out of the box when describing life experiences that have taught our students more than what can be taught in less than 170 hours in a classroom setting... Describing a child's passion in terms of what they have learned is a much better approach to science. Observations, experiments and the all important recapping of their experiences in a written form are excellent ways of accomplishing lab work.
Guest - Selina on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 10:27

JW,
Your idea sounds like a good one but, fresh road kill is NOT a great idea. You could actually get rabies from them. You have probably already thought about that since posting this. You can read more at this site.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32131.html

JW, Your idea sounds like a good one but, fresh road kill is NOT a great idea. You could actually get rabies from them. You have probably already thought about that since posting this. You can read more at this site. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32131.html
Guest - Sandy on Friday, 16 April 2010 06:09

We dissected a snake the cat left dead in the front yard. We broke apart a cheap razor and used sewing pins in a cardboard mat. Not the best methods but for a 9 year old he was thrilled. Luckily I had dissected dogs, cats, etc in college so I was past being squeamish.

We dissected a snake the cat left dead in the front yard. We broke apart a cheap razor and used sewing pins in a cardboard mat. Not the best methods but for a 9 year old he was thrilled. Luckily I had dissected dogs, cats, etc in college so I was past being squeamish.
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