Thoughts On Homeschooling | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 21 | p. 2 | Letters
Issue Date: May 21, 2007

Thoughts On Homeschooling

Department: Letters

As a chemist and homeschooling father of a third- and a sixth-grader, I was pleased to see your consideration of the rewards and challenges of this educational choice and the specific issues of chemistry curricula and instruction (C&EN, April 16, page 49). My vocation lends me a decided skill, as my wife and I teach the physical sciences. But I sympathize with those who home- educate while having a sense of inadequacy in the sciences borne of their poor experiences or personal aversion to science.

I try to help demystify science for our local home school group by organizing an annual science fair and giving tours and demonstrations in my employer's lab. Yet despite the general growth in resources and curricula for home educating that have occurred over the past two decades to meet demand, options for other realms of study far exceed those for the sciences. I hope and expect that even more resource choices will become available as my sons and our friends' children move toward the need for high school curricula.

In the meantime, my sons enjoy building molecular stick models, defying me to name their creations while we are shadowed by a large periodic table on the vaulted ceiling of their garage-loft play area. What more fun way is there to learn about chemical bonds and nomenclature!

Brian Smith
Stoughton, Wis.

The chemistry laboratory at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry in Portland has had a hands-on chemistry lab for more than 10 years. There are six stations in the lab where patrons can conduct experiments by themselves, all on a unified chemical theme. These experiments are changed weekly and there are eight different themes.

There are also spectacular demonstrations put on by staff. Homeschoolers recently organized themselves to attend the lab. The chemistry instructors have developed curricula for these students, from kindergarten to high school. On Tuesdays, when I volunteer in the lab, there are often three classes of homeschoolers, totaling 30 to 40 students.

Hal Smith
Portland, Ore.

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