In our early days of home schooling, I tried a number of science experiment books with mixed results. One of the toughest areas for us was experiments with batteries and/or electrical circuits. We purchased the TOPS book on Electricity, and were amazed when every one of the experiments worked! Even better, they required minimal equipment and expense. That book, alone, sold me on the rest of their books.
TOPS actually has two different series of books: Task Card Books and Activity Page Books. However, apart from slightly different formatting, these books are very similar in the way they work.
Each Activity Page has clearly numbered and illustrated instructions. The cartoon style illustrations used are very appealing. Information for the teacher lists the objective, some details that will help the experiment work out, answers, extension activities, and a list of materials needed. Extension activities often are substantial enough for another entire lesson! We are free to reproduce the pages for our own families or “classes.”
Books are targeted for different age groups, but a large number are for junior and senior high. Most books, especially those for older levels, include math applications. Even some of the younger level books include data recording. While other experiment books introduce scientific principles, this approach takes students to a deeper level of learning that really prepares them for challenging science courses.
There are 35 different books available that work for homeschooling. Each book addresses a single topic such as pendulums, metric measure, floating and sinking, oxidation, solutions, heat, pressure, magnetism, light, machines, rocks and minerals, electricity, corns and beans, and planets and stars.
Youngest level books are for grades 3 through 7 or 8 while other books cover grades 5 through 10, 8 through 12 or other such spans. (TOPS has a few other books primarily of interest to classroom teachers.) You can use these as family or group activities, do them one-on-one with your children, or let older students tackle them independently.
TOPS has made it easy for you to sample the entire range of their books with Try This On For Science. They have taken one activity lesson each from 41 of their books and compiled them into this one “sampler.” They represent the entire level of difficulty and topics so you can preview before purchasing complete topic books. All the activity lessons featured in this book are also available on line for free at their website, but the convenience of the book is well worth the purchase price. Each lesson page includes a listing of the age range of the source book, number of activities and pages, plus the price.
You can start with the sampler, but I think you’ll become a fan, too, no matter which book you choose.