Welcome to HandsomeScienceTeacher’s Complete Science Curriculum! Welcome also to a fun, engaging, and hands-on science learning journey. Before we jump into the curriculum, let’s first take a minute and talk about some routine housekeeping items. Important things like… why this curriculum was created, the pedagogy that it is built on, and how to utilize this resource to achieve the best possible results.
Even before we do that though, I should take a moment and introduce myself to you. Until you know who I am, and you know… why you should listen to me… there is really very little reason for you to continue using the rest of this article. When it comes to educating your child, it is important that you know who you’re dealing with. Your children matter to you more than anything in this world. Which is exactly how it should be. Consider the next section my job interview with you. Where I answer your questions about why I am hopefully a worthy candidate to be entrusted with the science instruction of your precious children.
Questions like: Who is this incredibly handsome science teacher? What does he know about teaching science? What experience does he have with homeschooling? What is his personal agenda? What are his credentials? And most importantly… why does he think he is so handsome? Okay, so I won’t answer the last question, since no one but me actually thinks that I truly am handsome… I’ll do my best with the rest though, and then you can determine whether or not you think the curriculum I have created is worthy of use by your family.
|About Mr. Bertoch|
I began my career in education way back in 1998. Though my experience with science goes back to my childhood. As a young man, I used to stay up late at night, lay in the backyard, and stare up at the stars. During my idyllic childhood growing up on a farm in Hunter, Utah I was a science addict! Kind of geeky, I know, but I adored science, and absolutely couldn’t get enough of it.
In 1998, at the age of 21, I founded a company called The KidsKnowIt Network, which would eventually grow to become the most popular (by traffic) educational portal on the Internet, serving tens of millions of students all over the world every single month. In 2012 when I sold it, no other online educational company was receiving more traffic than ours.
We had the largest (by traffic) Astronomy website, Biology website, Geology website, Geography website, Dinosaur website, History website, and spelling website in the entire world. We also had the second most popular math website. Our math website never got bigger than CoolMath.com. In that area we had to settle for second place, but that’s okay, because the people at CoolMath.com were pretty… well… cool! And hey… you can’t win every battle!
I loved building and working at The KidsKnowIt Network. It gave me some amazing opportunities. I got to meet and work with some impressive individuals. Including governments all over the world, in order to develop their science standards and curriculums. As well as top executives for companies like Microsoft, Lenovo, Adobe, Home Depot, and others, as we worked to create educational opportunities in the private sector. I also was given the opportunity to speak at education and technology conferences around the world as a featured presenter. During this era of my life, I was a sought-after expert in the areas of education and technology, especially as it pertains to the sciences. Incidentally, we also published educational books and produced educational videos that went out to school systems around the globe.
In 2012 I had a life-changing epiphany though. As much as I loved my job, one day as I sat in my office, I realized something very important. I remembered that ever since I had been a young boy, I had always dreamed about being a science teacher. Not a speaker, not a presenter, not a CEO, not a science consultant to governments around the world… but a science teacher, in a classroom, working with students.
I was happy, but not entirely fulfilled. This realization ate at me, and in time I set out to find investors to take over The KidsKnowIt Network so that I could move myself toward my childhood ambition. To teach! My wife was kind in supporting me in this effort. Which is good, because leaving my influential position behind led to a 95% pay cut. Teachers make WAY less money than CEO’s. That’s okay though because my decision to enter the classroom also led to a 1000% increase in my overall state of happiness!
Within a year I had earned my teaching certificate, and then found myself hired to teach as a 7th-grade science teacher at West Jordan Middle School in a suburb just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.
I continued teaching at West Jordan Middle School for the next seven years and absolutely loved it. During my time there I was awarded teacher of the year, as well as science department chair of the year (two different years). During this time, I was privileged to build a science fair program that dominated the State of Utah.
Eventually, my wife and I moved to Charleston, West Virginia where I then began teaching in a 6th-grade science class at West Side Middle School. A position that I continued working in for 3 years. Making my total time in public education 10 years. During my time at West Side Middle School, I was nominated for teacher of the year yet again. An honor that means more to me than I can express.
Following my departure from public education, I spent the next year developing the curriculum in this book and teaching it to homeschool students around the world.
During this time, I taught more than 90 students from all over the world in small classes via Zoom. These students helped me to really refine and improve these learning resources so that they could become as effective as possible for families working outside of a school system. Taking into account the need to modify labs so that they utilize, as much as possible, supplies commonly found at home, adapting lessons so that they are effective without a teacher being in the same room via video instruction, and so forth.
And that pretty much takes me through the present day. But, what about my credentials?
Before you begin using HandsomeScienceTeacher.com’s materials, you deserve to have the peace of mind of knowing what my credentials are. What gives me the right to put these materials together? How do you know they will be effective? How do you know that they are built on sound pedagogy? Let’s start with my degrees.
Please don’t hold the fact that I have multiple degrees against me! I built my business empire without any degrees. During that time, I found that degrees matter far less than experience. Indeed, some of the best employees I ever hired did not have a degree. When it came time to teach though, I had to have them, and so I earned several over my decade as a teacher.
I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to have earned three degrees. Two in science and one in instructional design. I have a bachelors in Earth Science which covers astronomy, geology, atmospheric science, and oceanography. I have a masters in Biology, and I have a second masters in instructional design. Instructional design is the methodical study of, and science behind, teaching and learning. With a particular focus on creating effective courses for students.
My Understanding of The Various Science Standards
Don’t hold this against me either. I know the standards well, and I know that can be a handicap, if not managed correctly. Please know that I am careful in my application of the standards, and I believe I know them well enough to know when to depart from them.
During my career I have had numerous opportunities to work on the International, National, and state, district, and even school levels in the areas of developing and unpacking science standards. During my time at The KidsKnowIt Network I sat on a number of councils that helped to design and influence the current national science standards in The Unitied States, as well as the science standards used by other countries. During that time my company was also hired by various states and organizations to consult on the creation of their standards. In these efforts, I always focused on using my influence to encourage school systems toward curricula that engendered an independent and logical mindset, where students learned to depend on their own skepticism and ability to think, rather than trusting experts.
During my time as a teacher I worked on the state and district levels to unpack science standards as well as to train other teachers in the district and state on how to teach those standards. When the State of Utah adopted the NGSS standards I sat on the State committee that went through and explored the implementation of the standards, and also spent weeks on the district level training other science teachers on how to utilize the standards.
Once again, my focus was on the important of teaching students to think for themselves, to demand evidence from the so-called experts, and to question everything. I wanted to create scientists, who don’t believe me, rather than loyalists who follow what they are taught without question. Science is the process of questioning the experts, not worshipping them. My goal was always and foremost to get students to believe in their own intelligence.
Because of these experiences, I am intimately familiar with The Next Generation Science Standards, which are utilized by most states in the United States, having been part of the discussions and trainings from their creation down through their implementation, and having played at least a minor role in nudging these standards toward a student-centered approach.
My Understanding of Science Pedagogy
What is Pedagogy? It is just a big word that essentially means the science of teaching. In this case, the science of teaching science… which sounds a little strange to say outloud. Science pedagogy is different than reading pedagogy, and different again from math pedagogy. Each content area touches different parts of the human mind, and so different strategies are required to reach learners.
So, what do I know about science pedagogy?
It turns out, quite a lot. Teaching science is something I am very good at. I know this sounds prideful, and I hope you will forgive me for saying as much. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I am very good at teaching. Especially science.
At both middle schools where I taught, we worked with the most underprivileged kids in our communities. My first school, West Jordan Middle School, was the most highly impacted school in our district and one of the most highly impacted schools in the State of Utah. Our students experienced significant challenges relating to poverty.
My second school, West Side Middle School, was even more challenging. It was located in the highest crime community in the State of West Virginia, were our students lived in conditions that you cannot imagine. These students witnessed atrocities that most adults never see. They were sadly also frequently the victims of these crimes. Many of them lived in homes without utilities and were in constant survival mode.
Despite the many challenges and setbacks that our students faced, I was able to lead them on to scoring on average 20% higher on standardized tests than their peers. When I say this, I don’t mean that they scored higher than their peers at the same school. Rather I mean that our poverty-stricken minority students were scoring 20% higher than students in other much more affluent schools and communities. This was an accomplishment that I am very proud of. It proved that our students were every bit as capable as those in more affluent communities.
I mentioned earlier a science fair program that I was lucky enough to get to build. During my time at West Jordan Middle School, I built this science fair dynasty which was unrivaled in the State of Utah.
At its height, we absolutely dominated the district, regional, and state science fairs. Averaging 30-40 kids every year going to the Central Utah State Science Fair, and 5-7 kids every year winning at the state science fair. I was even able to take 3 kids all the way to the national science fair where 2 of them won 3rd place in their division. All of this from within these highly impacted schools!
My students learn. They don’t just memorize facts. They actually understand the content and are able to use it to do real science on their own. I know how to teach science in a way that builds scientists, rather than just making them memorize facts.
The strategies used in this curriculum are proven to be successful. I do not believe in busy work! Busy work is a waste of time. Everything we do is intentional, has a purpose, and is tied directly back to helping students become intelligent thinkers. Likewise, the order of how I present the content is intentional.
Touching Students Brains As Many Times As Possible!
This curriculum is designed to touch students’ brains. Not literally! Thank goodness. That would be gross. But rather, my curriculum is designed to repeatedly touch a child’s mind in a way that forces their brains to retain what they learn. Every time we poke the brain neuropathways in their mind for that content become stronger.
Here’s the deal though. We don’t want to just touch one part of their brain over and over again. To be truly effective, we need to touch as many different parts of their brain as possible. This is because each time we engage another part of their brain, we once again strengthen the pathways that store the knowledge they are learning.
Thus, we want to use the part of their brain that listens, the part of their brain that talks, the part of their brain that reads, the part of their brain that writes, the part of their brain that is creative, the part of their brain that is analytical, and above all, the part of their brain that is responsible for physical movement.
My curriculum engages their entire mind and body in the learning process. Forcing them to activate all of these parts of their brain. Which most other curriculums ignore. Most curriculums focus solely on memorization and reading. We will be engaging the entire mind, and in so doing, students will end each unit having created a very well-laid-down neuro network.
They will not just be able to recall a memorized fact. They will understand the fact, and how it relates to other facts. They will be able to utilize what they know to solve new problems. Their science education will form an integrated whole that will help them to understand the world for what it really is, and to think analytically about it.
Most importantly, they will learn to question the experts. They will learn to view themselves as every bit as smart as any expert, and as capable as anyone else of looking at data and drawing their own intelligent conclusions. Instead of being dependent on others to spoonfeed them knowledge, they will learn to seek out knowledge on their own and to determine for themselves what is true, and what isn’t.
At no point in this curriculum do I tell them what they have to believe. Rather, I empower them to find truth on their own. It is not my job to impart my own agenda to them. Rather, it is my job to teach them to be skeptical of me as the teacher and to do their own research.
|How This Curriculum Is Organized|
A lot of thought and experience has gone into organizing this curriculum so that it is as effective as possible. To get the most from these activities it is important that your student complete them in the order that they are presented.
First Let’s Look At The Curriculum As A Whole
The curriculum, which spans K-12 grade was created in order to achieve two very important purposes. Firstly, to develop intelligent, confident, and independent thinkers. Secondly, to impart a very deep understanding of all domains of science. To achieve this goal, the curriculum follows the framework expressed in this diagram.
As students progress through the curriculum mastery badges will become increasingly challenging. However, they all follow the pattern outlined below.
We Always Start With Discovering Labs
Every unit, or “Mastery Badges” (more on mastery badges later) starts with what I call a Discovering Lab. Research shows that students learn and retain their knowledge best when they “discover” it for themselves, rather than when they have a teacher simply lecture to them. These discovering labs are designed to give students the opportunity to make their own discoveries.
When students begin a new Mastery Badge they won’t yet know a lot of the vocabulary associated with it, and that is okay. When completing a Discovering Lab, we are not yet concerned with vocabulary. Instead, we are only working to give students experience and exposure to the concepts. These are hands-on projects that allow the students to get their feet wet with the material.
When scientists make new discoveries, they too lack the vocabulary. Because they haven’t yet made up these new words. In other words, a real-world scientist makes up the vocabulary words only after they make the discoveries. Thus, in the same way, it is okay that your learner doesn’t yet have the vocabulary words to describe what they are learning from a discovering lab. These words will come later on.
Students should complete the Discovering Labs carefully and do high-quality work. If they do not know what something means, they can and should research it using available resources such as books and online articles. It will be tempting for students to look ahead to the instructional video or the article that go with the Mastery Badge. Encourage them not to do this. They will gain more by doing their own research than by looking ahead.
How is doing research any different than looking ahead to the video or article that go with a Mastery Badge? It may seem like a subtle difference but it is important. By looking ahead to see what I teach in the video, they find answers that they will be tempted to accept as empirical. Because I am the teacher they will view what I say as the “correct” answer.
However, by doing their own research and watching outside videos, or reading outside articles, they will come across a wider array of opinions and views on a topic. They will have to read and evaluate these for themselves and decide what they believe. This is an important part of science. Scientists do research all the time. They read scientific journals and analyze articles as they try to learn what other scientists have already discovered.
It is okay for your learner to do research while completing a Discovering Lab (outside videos and articles) but resist the temptation to watch MY videos or read MY articles until after the lab is complete.
Scan the QR Code above to watch a video of me talking about Discovering Labs.
The Second Part of Every Mastery Badge Is Instructional Videos
Every Mastery Badge includes one or more instructional videos, where I teach your student the material. Again, it is very important that students complete the Discovering Lab before watching these videos. It seems like a small thing, but it is actually huge. We want students to make their own discoveries prior to listening to me talk about the science behind what they have observed or researched. We want them to have formed their own opinions before I bias them with my teaching.
These science videos are easily accessed using any device via a QR code located within each Mastery Badge. They are free and included with this book. On average each video is about 10-20 minutes long, though younger grades tend to be shorter, and older grades tend to be longer.
Encourage students to really pay attention and to pause whenever they don’t understand something. If they are confused they can rewind and rewatch, and even research online or in books to better understand a confusing topic. Your student’s goal should be to not move beyond the video until they fully understand what is being taught.
In the older grades students are asked to write down 10 things that they learn from each video. Which helps them organize their thoughts. In younger grades they draw pictures, or do a combination of both. This engages the parts of their brain that both listen and write, and helps to create greater pathways in the brain.
The Third Part of Every Mastery Badge Is Literacy Assignments
It goes without saying that reading and writing are very important. In fact, I don’t think you could overstate just how important these skills are. Reading and writing cut across all content areas and for that matter, pretty much all aspects of life. In science, we read whenever we are doing research, and we write whenever we are communicating our discoveries to other people.
Each Mastery Badge includes a Literacy Assignment. In this assignment, students read an assigned article on HandsomeScienceTeacher.com (accessible by QR code) and where they will then write about what they read. They will also complete an online quiz that goes along with the article in order to check their understanding.
Take the time to really stress the importance of “Reading For Understanding” and “Writing To Communicate.” Help students take ownership over their own reading and writing journeys. Younger students will need help reading and writing. Older students should be able to work on these literacy assignments more independently.
What does it mean to read for understanding?
All of us can relate to reading something while not being present in our own minds. All of us have experienced having read something only to get to the end of it, and realized that we didn’t retain any of what we read.
Reading For Understanding means that the student holds themselves accountable for their reading. This is an important learned skill. One strategy they can use is to stop every few sentences and intentionally ask themselves whether or not they are still paying attention. Other strategies include looking up vocabulary words they don’t understand, and repeating back in their own minds what they are learning after each paragraph.
There are many strategies that can be used when working to read for understanding. Discuss these with your learner, and teach them to hold themselves accountable, so that they don’t simply skim articles or race through them.
What does it mean to write to communicate?
Writing To Communicate means that students write clearly, concisely, and in a way that communicates complete thoughts. I tell students that it is helpful to imagine that they are writting to someone younger than themselves. We tend to write much better when we imagine that our audience is someone younger and less experienced than ourselves, than we do when we write to a teacher or an adult. Write in a way that instructs the reader, and helps them fully understand the topic.
This means planning your writing out, and being intentional in how you present your arguements.
Note that many of the writing prompts presented in these literacy assignments call for a student to write two or more paragraphs. However, they do not specify a definition for what a paragraph is. There is nothing in this curriculum that specifies a paragraph must be a certain number of sentences long, or that it must follow a particular standard format.
This is intentional, in order to allow this curriculum to play nice with other curriculums that you may be using in your homeschool journey. When a prompt says to write a paragraph, this should be interpreted according to whatever standard you are currently holding your students accountable against. If your definition of a paragraph is five sentences long, then students should write accordingly. If it eight sentences long, then likewise, you should have your students follow that standard.
Scan the QR code above to watch a video of me talking about how to Read For Understanding and Write To Communicate.
Every article includes an online quiz that checks your learning. This is an opportunity for your student to see how much they really understood from the reading assignment. A standard goal would be that students score at least 75% or higher on these quizzes before moving on. However, you are free to adapt this to your own use and alter the requirements to fit your own needs. If students don’t meet your expectation for them, have them re-read the article, and retake the quiz.
All Mastery Badges End With A Capstone Applying Labs
The capstone of every Mastery Badge is an Applying Lab. These Applying Labs should be the last thing that your student does before passing off a Mastery Badge. They are culminating activities that require your student to use everything they have learned throughout the Mastery Badge.
In order to truly prove their competency with a Mastery Badge, and that they are indeed ready to pass it off, students should complete these Applying Labs from memory. If your student is able to complete the entire lab from memory, then that is a pretty good indication that they are ready to pass off the badge.
Note an important caveat though. When I say “complete the lab by memory” I am not referring to data or experiment results. I am referring to concepts and procedures. It is okay for students to look up data. Indeed many of the Applying Labs specifically call for them to do this in the directions and procedures.
Part of being a scientist is knowing how to look up data and how to complete experiments and simulations. What we care about isn’t that they don’t look up any data. Rather it is that they don’t have to look up any of the procedures, or core content. In other words, do they understand the science, and can they use it to solve problems?
|What Are Mastery Badges|
As a middle school teacher, one of the things I learned very early on was how meaningless grades are. They truly are completely and absolutely worthless. Or, at least mostly so. The only thing a grade really shows is how well a student is able to meet the arbitrary expectations of a particular teacher.
What they do not show though is how the grades of one teachers stack up against those of another. Johnny may earn an “A” in one class, but perhaps the same amount of work would have only earned him a “C” in another class down the hall.
More importantly neither grade tells us anything about how well Johnny actually understands the content. It is very possible to get an “A” in a class, without ever actually understanding anything that the teacher was teaching. All of us have undoubtedly BS’d (Bologna Sandwhiched) our way through a class. Often, it is enough to just turn in completed assignments and be likable to the teacher. Our work may not even have correct answers! Because teachers are busy, and if the assignment looks complete they will often give you a good grade on it, without actually checking your work (yes, teachers really do this).
An “A” can mean a lot of things. None of which are consistent from class to class, school to school, or teacher to teacher. But, what about an “F”?
Failure In Education Doesn’t Make Any Sense To Me!
The biggest reason of all for my absolute loathing of the letter grading system has to do with the letter F! The big FAIL! What a stupid concept!
Children work really hard to try and learn something, and then when an arbitrary date on a calendar arrives the teacher decides that students are no longer allowed to continue trying.
These teachers pronounce any students who did not accomplish whatever task they were supposed to accomplish by that date to be FAILURES. Not because they can’t learn. Not because they are unwilling to keep trying. But simply because the calendar says they are out of time, and its too bad for them!
I can’t imagine doing that in any other aspect of childhood. Can you? Imagine if a piano teacher worked that way. A child sits down to play the piano, and the teacher tells them that they have two weeks to learn a song, and if they don’t do it by then, they will be a failure. Imagine if a basketball coach worked that way! An eager little budding athlete shows up to practice each night and faithfully works to improve their free throw, only to have the coach tell them after two weeks that they are a failure.
Yet, this is exactly and precisely what we do in education. It is almost child abuse in my opinion. It destroys that child’s sense of well-being for no valid reason whatsoever. Declaring students to be failures accomplishes no good purpose. It neither motivates nor instructs. It is simply cruel and lazy on the part of the education system. What needs to happen is, like the piano teacher or the basketball coach, constructive feedback be given so that the student can continue to progress.
Learning Doesn’t Work The Way Public Education Insists On Teaching
Learning doesn’t happen on the same timeline for every student. Some students learn some topics more quickly, while requiring addigtional time to learn others.
Returning to our example of a music teacher. A student who learns to play a song on the piano in three weeks is every bit as successful as the student who learned to play it in two. A child who needs a few extra seasons to master their free throw is every bit as valuable to a professional recruiter as the athlete who mastered it in a few months.
It is the final result that matters, not the time it took to get there.
Mastery Badges allow me to give each student their just reward when they complete a unit by mastering all the content associated with that unit. I created Mastery Badges during my first year as a public school teacher and I have never looked back.
Think of them as merit badges in scouting. In order to earn a Mastery Badge a student needs to complete all the assignments associated with each Mastery Badge. This includes passing off the quiz and completing the Capstone Applying Lab (from memory).
Throughout each Mastery Badge your student will repeatedly be asked to stop and self-evaluate or “check” their own progress. Research shows that the single most influential factor in a student’s learning success has to do with their ability to self-evaluate. Students who stop and review their own progress do significantly better than students who don’t take ownership of their learning.
As their adult guide, make sure that students are taking the time to honestly evaluate and own their progress. At the end of each Mastery Badge, before awarding the badge to them, have students honestly look back over their work and reflect on their efforts.
Your Role As A Mastery Badge Counselor
Ultimately, it is up to you, the adult to determine whether or not a student has passed off a Mastery Badge. It is you who will act as their Mastery Badge Counselor, and who will be responsible for passing them off. Be honest, supportive, and kind in this role. Hold students accountable with constructive feedback. Discuss and decide together whether or not a student has achieved mastery of the content.
What Does Mastery Mean?
Mastery refers to the student’s ability to recall and use the knowledge and practices taught in the Mastery Badge. This includes the content as well as the Science And Engineering Practices. If students are able to easily recall the content and vocabulary, and if they are able to use this content to solve real world problems then they have “mastered” it and are ready to move on. If not, that’s okay! We are not in a rush. Take the time to go back over the content and fill in the gaps.
Save The Mastery Badge Certificates
The Mastery Badge Certificates in this book are meant to be saved in your homeschool files. They provide evidence to the state, should you ever be audited. Showing that your student has completed a valid and thorough science curriculum and that they mastered the concepts.
|The Eight Science & Engineering Practices and the Crosscutting Concepts|
Over the past decade most school systems have been moving toward the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are built using what is often referred to as 3D science. These three dimensions include content, crosscutting concepts, and the eight science and engineering practices.
HandsomeScienceTeacher’s Science Curriculum is built on these three dimensions of science. You will see both the crosscutting concepts and the eight science and engineering practices throughout each Mastery Badge.
Sometimes national and state standards get things very wrong. Other times they get them very right. This is a case of the latter. The eight science and engineering practices are tools that help us create intelligent thinkers. They go way beyond the scientific method that you and I were taught when we were young.
The Eight Science & Engineering Practices Include:
- Ask Questions.
- Develop and Use Models.
- Plan and Carry out Investigations.
- Analyze and Interpret Data.
- Use Mathematics and Computational Thinking.
- Construct Explanations.
- Engage in Argument from Evidence.
- Obtain, Evaluate, and Communicate Information.
The purpose behind these practices is to help students become scientists. It isn’t enough to simply memorize Newton’s Laws of Motion. We want students to be able to use these laws to do actual science and to solve problems. We want to create scientifically minded students.
The more than 400 labs that your student will complete throughout their years working in this curriculum are built on these eight science and engineering practices, as well as on the crosscutting concepts.
The Crosscutting Concepts Include:
- Cause and Effect
- Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
- Systems and System Models
- Energy and Matter
- Structure and Function
- Stability and Change
Your Child Is Every Bit As Smart As Any Expert
Let’s be honest. Your child is smarter than most experts. Sadly, in today’s world, there are a lot of so-called experts, who really are not that intelligent. They may have degrees and lots of letters after their names, but they aren’t thinkers.
They aren’t the people who developed the domains they now rule over. Those great thinkers of the past came, created new knowledge, and then retired, inevitably passing on. The ideas they created were passed on to people who studied their works but never really learned to create new knowledge themselves. These experts are all too often devoted disciples of the great minds of the past, rather than self-informed thinkers in their own right.
This curriculum teaches your child to trust their own intelligence and to demand that the experts prove the claims they are making.
|How Much Time To Spend On Each Mastery Badge|
Each Mastery Badge is designed to take approximately two weeks to complete. You may finish some more quickly while others may take longer, but as a general rule plan your pacing around two weeks per badge.
Remember that you are not in a race. Mastery is far more important than finishing quickly. If a badge takes three or four weeks don’t worry about it. There is space in your schedule for some badges to run a little longer.
Goal: Complete 16 Badges Per School Year
The curriculum has been designed so that you only need to complete 16 badges per school year. If you complete these badges at the suggested pace of one every two weeks then you will only need 32 school weeks to finish all 16 badges. A typical school year includes 40 weeks, which means that you have time for Christmas break, Spring break, and also for some badges to take a little more time to finish.
If you finish in April, is that really so bad? You can move on if you want and work ahead, but it is also okay (and even encouraged) to just deschool a bit and enjoy an early summer break. Go outside, go for walks, and enjoy childhood!
These little ones only get one childhood!
|Everything Your Student Needs To Know For Science|
This curriculum covers everything your student needs to know for their entire science education. By the time they finish this curriculum if they work hard and keep themselves accountable to their own success, and if their results are like those of my other students, they will score higher on standardized science tests than the vast majority of their peers. Including those who have been taught in public and private schools.
Likewise, they will have a very strong footing preparing them for college and beyond. They won’t just have memorized a bunch of disconnected random scientific facts in order to pass a class. Instead, they will have become functioning scientists, who think analytically and who are able to use data and evidence to solve real-world problems.
|What Is My Agenda?|
Unfortunately, in today’s world parents have to be concerned about the various agendas hidden beneath the curriculum that is presented to their students. It is sad that this is the case, but it is a reality. Rest assured that great effort has gone into making sure that HandsomeScienceTeacher’s Curriculum is completely agenda-free. Or at least in so far as it is possible for me to hide my own biases I have done so.
It is not my job to teach your student my values. It is my job to teach them science, and I stick to that very strictly. To that end, you have access to every lesson, every video, and every article before your child accesses them.
I have opinions, but I do my utmost to keep them out of the instruction.
|Why I Created This Curriculum|
I am going to be very honest here. Perhaps too honest, considering I just got done discussing how I do not allow agendas to surface in my teaching. I will permit myself this one single exception, and I hope you will forgive me for indulging in it.
I recently left the public education system. I did this because I have grown increasingly alarmed and concerned by some of the things I have seen. In my opinion, it is wrong, incredibly wrong, for school systems to teach students things without parental consent that may run counter to the values held in the student’s home. Likewise, it is wrong for teachers to ask students to confide in them, and to promise these students that the teacher will not disclose what has been confided to their parents. I have watched over the past decade as wonderful teachers have retired and as their younger replacements have come in much more willing to hide things from parents or promote their own agendas.
I have sat in meetings where teachers have openly discussed the most basic psychological needs of students while advocating against bringing parents into the loop and even suggesting that parents don’t have a right to be involved.
As a person who tries to live a life of integrity, I could frankly no longer be part of a system that increasingly advocates teaching ideas, values, and concepts that parents object to. Especially when these school systems have publicly denied doing the very thing they aggressively pursue behind closed doors.
In fairness, I have had some wonderful principals and have worked under fantastic leadership. However, as the years have progressed, those stepping up into new leadership positions have become increasingly willing to suppress parent access or mislead families in what is actually being covered in classes.
People of integrity teach in the light of day. They are not afraid to let parents see behind the curtain, and they certainly do not mislead parents. If you feel a conviction within your heart to teach something then its rightness should be so self-evident that it can withstand the scrutiny of parental oversight. If you believe that the parents are wrong, this can never justify lying or misrepresenting what is being taught.
The final straw for me came when I found myself debating fellow teachers over the rights of parents. I found myself exasperated by my inability to convince a growing number of my colleagues that it was wrong to lie. Each year more and more teachers were resolutely convinced of the rightness of their efforts to promote ideas contrary to the will of parents. As these attitudes crept into leadership mandates were beginning to be written that required teachers to participate in this kind of disingenuous behavior.
People of integrity do not behave in such a manner, and again, being someone who strives, though admittedly often falls short, of such an ideal, I felt I could no longer participate in such a system, and still maintain my honor.
Fortunately, due to my earlier success in business, I didn’t need the income, and though I loved working with my students, I made the decision to step into the world of homeschooling.
A Massive Wave of Homeschoolers
Beginning in 2019 a massive wave of students left public education to begin homeschooling. This is nothing short of an absolute tidal wave! We are talking about millions of families who made the decision to leave the school system. My family was among them. We took our children out of public schools and into the wonderful and exciting world of homeschooling.
I Wanted To Be Part of The Solution
I have a lot to offer my fellow homeschooling families. My journey in the education system has been long and thorough. My credentials are deep and extensive. I was part of the initial group of “influencers” though the word didn’t exist at that time, who built the first meaningful educational websites and portals. I have worked in the trenches designing national and state standards. I have taught in the classroom. I have all the degrees and credentials. I was teacher of the year and science chair of the year, and I understand homeschooling from the perspective of a parent.
I left public education at the end of 2021 so that I could begin to build this curriculum and make it available completely free of charge to you. There are other very excellent curriculums out there already. However, to my knowledge, there are very few if any others that are built on three-dimensional science or that take into account the best pedagogical strategies
|Why Is This Curriculum Free?|
Firstly, let me explain what I mean by free. Since many who encounter this curriculum will have paid for it. If you purchased this curriculum in book form, then yes, it was certainly not free. There was a cost associated with the binding and production of the physical book. However, many of you will have come across this curriculum in digital form. Which is freely available for download and distribution without remuneration to the author.
If you have a digital copy of this curriculum please share it! Post it freely. So long as you do not alter the file, you are welcome to print it, photocopy it, and use it to your heart’s content.
My purpose in creating this curriculum has never been to make money. It is and will always be about being part of the solution. It is about giving back and helping to fix a very broken education system.
There are millions of families who have pulled their students out of the public education system. These parents showed great courage in these actions. It is scary to take your student’s education into your own hands. The trends we are seeing right now in public education put many families in a very difficult spot. Torn between a desire to protect their kids from the predations of decaying agendas, and the utter terror around the many unknowns of teaching at home.
These families deserve the very best without having to spend a lot of money. It is to these families, that I offer this curriculum at no cost.
A lot of effort has gone into making sure that this curriculum meets the highest standards. Free can sometimes equate to low quality, however at least in the case of these materials, free does not mean that you are getting something that is less effective.
In my very experienced opinion, you are simply not going to find a better curriculum on the market, than what I have produced in these books.
|Lab Supplies Available on HandsomeScienceTeacher.com|
Having said that, I do sell lab supplies on my website www.HandsomeScienceTeacher.com. These supplies are provided at or below market cost, as a service to those families who may need them. Please do not feel pressured to buy these supplies from me. In fact, I go out of my way in the content to provide alternative supplies you can use if something is not available to you.
However, in those cases where families do desire to purchase (or rent) lab supplies they are available. If you are considering investing in lab supplies, may I recommend The Lab Essentials Kit, which contains the most common items used in the labs found throughout this program? These are the items that I find students usually do not have at home, including a small pocket microscope, a graduated cylinder, a precision scale, a compass, a metric ruler / magnifying glass, tweezers, specimen jars, safety glasses, and a few other odds and ends. This kit is sold significantly below retail value.
We also rent out a limited number of higher-end items including professional-grade microscopes, microscope slides, models, and various other things you might find in a school laboratory, but that you might not have access to at home.
To look through our inventory go to www.HandsomeScienceTeacher.com.
|What Can You Do To Help?|
In exchange for utilizing these free resources, I ask for very little in return. All I really hope is that you will pay it forward. If you find this curriculum useful, please consider doing some of the following to help others find it.
- Consider posting a .pdf of this curriculum (available on HandsomeScienceTeacher.com) to your various homeschool groups online.
- Consider leaving a review of this book on Amazon and in other places. This helps so much more than you know, because it pushes the book up further in their searches, helping others to find it.
- Consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Again, this helps by lending credibility to the channel, and as a result, helping the science videos climb higher in the results.
- Post our videos anywhere and everywhere. Feel free to incorporate our YouTube videos into your own projects. So long as they are not edited, and are imported via our YouTube channel. This helps us get the word out about these resources.
- Talk about this curriculum with family and friends who also homeschool.
I am deeply grateful for any and all such gestures, that help me let families know about these free resources.
|Errors In This Book|
Creating these books was a monumental task that has already taken more than two years and thousands of hours to complete, and that will involve at minimum two more years of full-time work. While I am 100% confident in the scientific principles and the pedagogy, I am not 100% confident that there are not some typos or grammatical errors that I missed during editing.
A project like this usually is overseen by a vast team. Just look at the credits page of a typical textbook! I do not have a team to help me. For me, this has been a labor of love. That I have funded out of my own pocket, and that I am giving away freely once it is completed. When it is done it will include more than 15 textbooks with over 500,000 words of copy, hundreds of online articles with an additional 500,000 words of copy, and hundreds of videos and online quizzes.
A project this massively immense would take an education publishing firm 5-10 years to produce and would be overseen by a team of hundreds of people working full-time. The books would go through editors and proofreaders.
I am the writer, the editor, the proofreader, the video editor, the website programmer, and every other role associated with bringing this project to market. Each time I have gone over the text I have found errors. Again, not with the science or pedagogy, but with grammar, copy and paste errors, and so forth. It is absolutely inevitable that I missed some.
My options were to never release it or to put it out there and crowd-source the proofreading. In the end, I choose the latter.
If you find a mistake, please visit HandsomeScienceTeacher.com and report it. There is a link for reporting errors at the bottom of every page. I will correct the errors you report and update the project as we move forward together.