A New High School Chemistry Course Available August 17th

This is a diagram of the famous Rutherford experiment that showed us the basic structure of the atom.  It is one of several important experiments discussed in my new chemistry course.
This is a diagram of the famous Rutherford experiment that showed us the basic structure of the atom. It is one of several important experiments discussed in my new chemistry course.

NOTE: You can get updates on the progress of this course by signing up at the publisher’s website.

If you read my review of the newest edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry, you know that there are significant issues which make it very difficult to use in a homeschool setting. As I stated in that review, I was afraid that I was being overly harsh in my analysis, so I sent it to two other PhD chemists to look over. One of those chemists gave it to two students who had used the older edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry and were successful in his university-level chemistry course. Based on input from those four sources, I changed the review and posted it.

In addition to sending it to the two chemists, I also sent the original review to the publisher of Exploring Creation with Chemistry on January 8th, a full month before I ended up posting my review. I asked the publisher to make the older edition available for those who would like to have a more useful version of the course. It has been more than two months, and I have heard nothing from the publisher. I suspect that the publisher has studied my review, because they posted an incomplete errata sheet for the book. It corrects many of the errors I noted, but surprisingly, not some of the major errors, such as the physically-impossible Figure 3.3 and the claim that Robert Boyle wrote The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation.

Since my review was posted, several homeschoolers have asked for my advice regarding what they should use for chemistry next year. They share my views and don’t want to use the new edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry. I have been recommending that they just use the older edition, but the number of copies available in the used market is declining. I have also been asked the same question by instructors who teach online chemistry classes. They don’t want to use the new edition, and they don’t think they can rely on the used market when it comes to telling their students what course to purchase.

All of this feedback led me to make this a matter of prayer. After a lot of praying, a significant number of discussions with homeschooling parents and online teachers, and some counsel from an attorney, I would like to announce that I am currently writing a new high school chemistry course that will be available on August 17th of this year.

At first, I only considered this because of the discussions I had with homeschooling parents and online teachers. Some of them are very concerned about what they will do next year. However, as I started praying and thinking about how I would approach such an undertaking, I came to realize that there really does need to be a new chemistry course for high school students who are being educated at home. This isn’t because the chemistry discussed in such a course has changed since the old edition was written, but the availability of chemistry supplies has changed. In addition, my familiarity with the kinds of experiments that can be done at home has increased significantly. As a result, the experiments that I can write for my new course will be a real improvement over the experiments in my old course.

Also, my experience teaching a university-level chemistry course last semester gave me a new appreciation for the “atoms first” approach to chemistry, so my new course will have a completely different order of topics as compared to the older edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry. I will also discuss some topics (like spectroscopy) more in this course and other topics (like environmental issues) less. The core concepts, of course, will remain the same, as they should in any high school chemistry course – an emphasis on significant figures, stoichiometry, The Periodic Table of the Elements, and the Creator who designed it all.

Although we never know what the Lord has in store for us, I am confident that I can meet the deadline listed in the title (August 17th) unless something truly unexpected comes up. I have three excellent reviewers who are also confident that they can review the text and get it back to me in time for the deadline. Even if we miss the deadline on the physical book, however, the publisher (Berean Builders) will come up with a solution that will allow students to start the course by then, even if the complete book is not yet available. As a result, you can be confident that you will have a course written by me available for this fall, assuming you want it. As time goes on, the publisher will eventually post samples of the course, a table of contents, and the like. I will let my readers know when such things become available.

As soon as I complete the new chemistry course, I will go back to finishing the elementary science series I’ve been working on. The first three books are already available, and the fourth book in the series is in field testing and undergoing peer review. It will likely be available in the first quarter of 2016. Assuming things go well, the final book in the series will be available by July of 2017.

Now…it’s time for me to get back to writing about polarity!

36 thoughts on “A New High School Chemistry Course Available August 17th”

  1. Thank you so much for following your inspiration, and testifying of it! What a blessing you are for the homeschool community. 🙂

  2. If you could see me smile! As a long time chemistry teacher in both public and homeschool settings (not a natural chemist, but I can teach the basics!) I understood why you taught the order you did, but LONGGGGED for an atoms first approach. I felt that gave students more practice on some skills that were really assumed knowledge in most college chemistry class. I based my judgement on my own experience as a student who initially struggled in college chemistry. I predict this new text will be a big benefit in the homeschool community.

  3. I am so glad to hear this! I was terribly disappointed with the second edition of the anatomy course–the new formatting made it much harder, not easier, to use. I’ll have to find a replacement on my next go around.

    In the meantime I am glad that the chemistry will be there when I need it!

    1. Jill, I would be interested to know more about what you mean. I judged it mostly on content and explanation, not on format. I didn’t like the format, but I didn’t see how it would detract from the learning process, except perhaps the annoying graph paper background on the experiments. Feel free to send me a personal message if you don’t want to comment publicly.

      1. The content in “The Human Body” course was fine; it was the format that most frustrated me, especially as it did not seem like the content was changed very much. It was just made more visually complicated by the poor design:

        –Vocabulary in bolded light blue instead of black makes the words sink into the text instead of stand out. I could no longer scan for what I was looking for.
        –Yellow text for the “think about it” call outs are almost impossible to read. I gave up after the first module.
        –On Your Owns in green boxes off to the side are just too easy to miss and again difficult to read.
        –Experiments, as you noted, were in a goofy font that did not line up on the grid paper background. I know they were trying to imitate college lab books, but everyone prints on the lines! Many of my students are dyslexic, and the font choice made these almost impossible to read.

        When the new edition came out I was excited figuring they had made the content clearer with more sectioning and better design. After I read through the first module, I was very sorry that I had sold my older edition in order to use the new.

        I am an RN and love teaching human anatomy. I tell all my nursing stories and I add in health information as we go through the systems. But the new edition of “The Human Body” has just made it too burdensome to teach, so I am looking for something else to use in future years.

        If Apologia continues to do this same disservice to the rest of the books, I’ll have to drop them altogether. So sad.

        1. Thanks for your feedback, Jill. I obviously have no sway at the publisher, but I can tell two of the authors I know there, and perhaps they will relate your concerns.

        2. I share your frustrations Jill. I have the same background. I also get annoyed with the answers not being the same as what the text taught on some occasions.

  4. Dr. Wile – I have two non-science minded children who will need chemistry for the 2016-17 school year. So … now I’m pondering if I should buy the 2nd edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry while it is still available OR wait for your new curriculum. Will the new curriculum fit the needs and interests of students who are not planning on science related careers?

    1. That a bit of a difficult question to answer, Sandra. The second edition is a rigorous course that prepares the student for university-level science. The new course will be like that as well. If you think the second edition is appropriate, this new course will be as well. If you are looking for something less rigorous, especially for non-college-bound students, you might consider The Spectrum.

    2. Sandra, I have taught many non-science minded kids and love what chemistry does for thinking skills and especially for cementing the use of algebra. All of my students have enjoyed the course even if they did not go into science in college.

      The most important thing is for you to teach it to them. They will struggle to understand it on their own. Read along with them and discuss the material and work through the problems together. By wrestling with it together you all will gain so much.

      1. Jill Pike – That one line: “you should teach it to them” about sums up the most important idea in “non-science” students taking any science class.

        To Sandra I will add, that I taught a group of “definitely not going to ever take science in college” girls using the Apologia text but I also had them use a lot of supplemental materials for worksheets etc that helped them understand the basic concepts.

  5. Dr. Wile,
    Thank you so much for this. I teach high school co-op alternating your Biology one year and your Chemistry the next. When I saw the new 3rd edition I was immediately skeptical, and your review of it sealed my opinion. I am ecstatic to to know that come time to teach Chemistry again in August 2016, I’ll have something I have total faith in to use.

    I love the sound of updated experiments too!

  6. The world can use more chemistry resources for homeschoolers. As a chemistry professor I am more interested in seeing a college level course pitched to sophomore/junior chemistry majors in nuclear chemistry. Not a hard-core technical text on nuclear chem, but a more entry level text that shows many applications, maybe discusses the shell model of the nucleus, foundational experiments etc. Maybe you can recommend one? With your background in publishing I think this could really meet a need. We are always looking for accessible “special topics” and texts for such.

    1. Unfortunately, Philip, I don’t know of a book like that. I have taught out of an earlier edition of this book. It is good, but I assume it is more than you want.

  7. Good to know this will be available. My experience this year was that reading the book online was a bust. We needed a physical book to read in and be able to flip back and forth. And printing pages was a drag. So please, please try to make that Aug. 15 deadline. Also make the solutions guide organized by module, not by type of answers.

    Would you team up with Home Science or some retailer to make a chemistry experiment kit? It’s nice to have the equipment prepackaged so scrounging is limited. Thanks again.

    1. I love the idea of the solutions manual being organized by module rather than topic. Grading makes me batty with the current Apologia set up.

  8. I am thrilled that you will be offering this text this year Dr. Wile! I am wondering if you would consider it to be sufficient preparation for the AP chemistry exam (along with an AP-specific review book) or if you would anticipate those students taking this chemistry class and then another year of AP chem class afterward?

    1. It will be a solid, college-preparatory course, TJ, but it will not be AP level. Generally, a good AP-level high school course requires two years.

    1. Not right now, Bill. I hope that the new edition of physics (if the publisher makes it) is an improvement over the old edition, like the new edition of The Human Body is. If so, there won’t be a reason for me to write a new one.

  9. I don’t know how much time you have already spent working on this Chemistry text, but it seems to me that an August 2015 release date is very optimistic. You have stated that you felt the Apologia Chemistry new edition text was “rushed to press.” I can’t help but wonder if your decision to write a homeschool Chemistry text in response to Apologia’s new edition is a bit hasty on your part. Imagine the homeschoolers “chomping at the bit” come August…and the mayhem if the text isn’t out by September.

    Will it have much of the content of your 2nd edition Chemistry text and therefore be more of the 3rd edition you had hoped for from Apologia? Or are you prohibited from using the format/content since you sold the business?

    1. I understand your concern, Cindi,but I do think we will meet the deadline without rushing. I have been teaching chemistry and writing for a long time. It comes reasonably easy to me.

      I cannot use any of the second edition material. That content does not belong to me anymore.

  10. Yeah! and Amen! I am currently leading a CC chemistry seminar using the 2nd edition book and it has been a struggle for some of the families and myself to get all of the texts and tests materials that we need. Science books should be as free from error as possible. Chemistry courses and texts involve plenty of math where students can get lost or confused. They need reliable explanations for all sample problems,practice questions, review Q/A quizzes, and tests. If errors aren’t ‘caught’, students and parents beat themselves up – “why am I getting the wrong answer?” This can lead to feelings of “I can’t do chemistry”.

  11. Will there be an audiobook companion to your text? My son is dyslexic and we have always used those with the Apologia texts in the past. I could read the text for him with the same result (not having to work a the reading while trying to comprehend the content), but he would prefer to be able to work independently.

    1. It won’t be ready for this coming academic year, Jennifer, but as long as sales of the book are strong enough, I plan on producing one.

  12. Will the introduction of this text book make suggestions on note taking for this book? We have only used Apologia science throughout our homeschooling and have benefitted from the notebooks. It will be good practice for my son to begin his own notebooking, but it’s been a LONG time since I took chemistry and I am quite rusty in note taking as well. 🙂

    1. There will be a content-rich website for the course, and there will be links to note-taking and study tips there.

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