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Mom Tips: Six Sites for Science

When I started homeschooling, I had one great fear: high school science. How could I possibly teach that? I know the information, but setting up labs? Dissecting animals in my kitchen? Some parents might be willing to allow those; I'm just not one of them.

Math Science

As time went on, I realized that there are numerous options available. Co-op classes. Community college classes. And yes, virtual classes and experiments. We've opted for in-person science classes - truly, nothing is as satisfying as creating that chemical compound or dissecting that frog yourself. Since this is not always an available option, however, there are many online resources available. Many must be purchased, but the free sites also offer a large number of excellent programs.

Whether as your student's only "lab work" or as a supplement to other hands-on coursework, the following sites offer excellent resources for high school science programs:

Biology: cells and more

Pearson's LabBench provides a series of online labs about basic biology. Students learn about both plants and animals - on many sites, one of these areas is strong while the other has less info; Pearson, however, has good information in both areas. Students work their way through experiments, finishing with simple quizzes to test their understanding of the concepts.

Frog dissection

There are many sites that offer pictures and videos of frog dissections. However, Net Frog is one that allows the student to perform the dissection. Its interactive features allow students to watch videos, then follow the directions in order to dissect the frog image shown. In addition, there are links to other resources, as well as quizzes to test your knowledge and understanding.

Chemistry: virtual lab

By far the best free virtual chemistry lab is Virtual Chemistry Lab 2.0. While some of the instructions are not as intuitive as I might like, the manual is quite well written and explains everything. This program must be downloaded to use; however, installation is simple, and your student will be mixing chemical compounds in no time.

Physics: motion and more

Based on many of the homeschooling parents I've met, Fear of Physics is an aptly named site. Rather than instill more fear, however, this site gives useful tools that make explanations far less confusing. For example, Basic Interactions poses questions about many standard physics topics; students can select the answer they believe is correct, then see a movie clip associated with their answer.

Still not convinced? Go to the Visual Physics section, where you can test theories by using your own experimental parameters.

Astronomy: getting a good star(t)

There are many sites available with useful information about planets, comets, asteroids and other celestial bodies. The most difficult to find, however, is a good star chart. My favorite is AstroViewer, which can be used either online or as a downloaded program. You can set the program to show the sky for your location, and zoom in or out to help spot constellations. Select a time of day, or a different time in the year, to gain better knowledge of how the night sky changes. There's also useful information about planets and other celestial bodies and where they can be seen. Clicking on a specific star will bring up further information about its location and the constellations surrounding it.

Anatomy for Every-Body

The InnerBody is an excellent starting point for studying basic human anatomy, especially for the squeamish or shy student. Rather than the photos and films seen on most sites, this one uses simple drawings of each system. From a basic overview of a system and its major parts, students can proceed to study a specific area up close -- see the entire cardiovascular system, or look closely at the parts of the heart. The explanations are basic; this is mainly a site for identifying the components of each system. It is an excellent addition to any anatomy curriculum.