This year we are sticking with the Activate Science range from Oxford University Press. We used their Activate 1 student book last year and at the end of the year added their Activate 1 workbook. We were very happy with both of those books so we are sticking with what worked last year. I am going to write two posts about these books. This one is going to be about the Student Book and the next one will be about their workbooks (they have 2 different workbooks). The Student Book and the Workbook go hand in hand together. The Student book is essentially the book that explains the concepts, it has colourful pictures, diagrams and graphs as well as a few questions. The workbooks are black and white question books.
The layout of the Student Book. The book is split into 3 categories – Biology, Chemistry and Physics. You could work through the book from page 1 to the end, you could mix up the order of the categories and decide to start with Physics first or you could even jump into a page in the middle of a section. Last year we did a bit of everything. We would start working through a category but when one of the kids had a question about something different we would jump to that page and cover it (eg while we were working through cells last year the kids wanted to jump to plant reproduction and seed dispersal – which we did – and it worked perfectly. The pages can be read as standalone pages when you want to).
Okay so each major category is subdivided into three chapters (Oops – Chemistry has 4 chapters). And those 3 chapters are split into topics. A topic is covered over a double page and at the end of each double page there are normally 3 questions (now I must stress all the answers for the questions in the student book are not included in this book. Apparently the answers are included in the Teacher’s Book which we do not have so I cannot comment on the Teacher’s Book.)
At the end of each chapter there is a Summary of the key points as well as something called the Big Write and End of Chapter Questions. The Big Write is a longer task – think along the lines of design a leaflet, design a presentation or design a homepage of a website that type thing. I think these Big Writes make for some interesting projects (just a thought).
The End of the Chapter Questions vary for each chapter but they tend to cover all the key points and they are in varying degrees of difficulty – they show this by the number of test tubes next to each question. 1 test tube is the easiest and 3 is the hardest.
This layout really worked for us last year and we have started with the Biology section in Activate 2 and are finding it perfect yet again. We tend to go through a double page (sometimes 2 double pages) in one sitting, we read it together, chat about what it says and then my daughter answers the questions at the end of the pages verbally so we can chat about her answers. After that she goes and works through the corresponding page in her workbook.
With regard to time allocation. Can you cover this book in 1 year? Yes. Do we split our time evenly between each page? No. There are some sections in this book that we have already covered in detail so those sections we tend to fly through and there are some sections that I am guessing we are going to take a bit longer because they are new concepts and my daughter likes to cover new ideas in detail. She likes to read and reread different sources. But it is totally manageable and you don’t need to use extra resources with this book, it covers what you need for Year 8 Science but if you are like my daughter and enjoy extending topics you can still do that.
Okay so what exactly is covered in Activate 2?
- Health and Lifestyle (so food, nutrients, digestive system, drugs, alcohol and smoking)
- Ecosystem Processes (photosynthesis, leaves, plant minerals and respiration, food chains and food webs)
- Adaptation and Inheritance (adapting to change, inheritance, natural selection, extinction).
- Periodic Table (metals and non-metals, groups and periods)
- Separation Techniques (solutions, solubility, filtration, evaporation and chromatography)
- Metals and Acids (metals and water, metals and oxygen, extracting metals, ceramics, polymers, composites)
- The Earth (sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks, the rock cycle, the carbon cycle)
- Electricity and magnetism
- Energy (energy transfer, energy resources)
- Motion and Pressure (speed, motion graphs, pressure in gases, pressure in liquids and pressure in solids).