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Studying vocabulary doesn't have to be as boring as it sometimes is: write a word down, look it up in the dictionary, and write down the definition--over and over again! Why not give your child the tools to be able to define words just by looking at their parts? That's why studying Latin and Greek roots helps; being able to break a word down into its various roots and knowing the meanings of those roots can help the student define an unknown word. Science Roots is a newer product created to be used before or alongside Apologia's biology text. Dr. Jay Wile, author of the Apologia texts, says, "I think it is a valuable study tool."
Science Roots was written to give the student an easier way to learn science terms for biology, zoology, and other life sciences. It teaches 123 roots and can be used by itself with any biology text. However, the roots are coded to follow along with the Apologia biology lessons. Of course, anybody can use this inexpensive ($9.95) guide to add to his knowledge base! If possible, the author recommends beginning this study the year before taking a biology course. She includes detailed guidelines for studying the roots on a 1- or 2-year schedule. Also included are step-by-step instructions for creating the Study Cards that will aid the student in reviewing the roots that he is learning.
Each study day, the student creates a root card using index cards, which are then filed away in a card file box. After writing the root, definition, and origin on the card, it is then time to write out the definitions of three Example words using the study root. In defining the words, the student learns the meanings of other roots that are part of the Example words. When the student encounters a new root while defining the Example words, he begins a new study card for that root and then sets it aside until it comes up for study again.
Unlike Vocabulary Vine, written by the same author, Science Roots does not use a true spiral approach to teaching the roots. Instead, the student studies related roots together following the sequence as they are presented in Apologia biology. If you are wondering what a "spiral approach" is, basically it's previewing a root while studying the Study Root and then studying/reviewing it again later. Here is an explanation as written in Vocabulary Vine: "By reviewing studied material after a few days, and again a few days after that, your long-term retention improves tremendously. In this program, you generally preview a root a few days before you study it because you use it in another Study Root's Example Word." Of course, in creating new Study Cards when studying the main "root of the day" and then working on those cards when they come up again later, the spiral approach to learning is incorporated somewhat in Science Roots.
Science Roots does not cover all of the roots that are encountered in the Apologia text, just the most common ones that the student will most likely encounter again in his reading. The student is encouraged to include extra Example words using the root at the bottom of the Study Card. By doing this, the student is expanding his basic vocabulary base and will be more likely to recognize a word in the future. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the partially completed study cards, as they will be a huge timesaver for the student. At a low price of $9.50 for the set of 123 cards, it is a true bargain and the student only has to define the root and the definitions for the Example words. The rest of the information is already on there! The cards are printed on cardstock ready to be cut apart. Duplication is permitted within the household, so the cards can be used with multiple children.
There are several other sections in Science Roots: a Frequently Asked Questions, a few pages listing some optional Learning Games to add a bit of fun and variety to the study, and a section of Supplemental Information about the program. There are also several appendices--a detailed Taxonomy Chart, a biology vocabulary list, and a Partial Studies list for those who do not want to study all of the roots in a year's time. I would recommend beginning Science Roots before studying biology if at all possible. However, I do not believe that it would be too time-consuming or overwhelming to add while studying biology. Ms. Hasseler has put a lot of thought into this curriculum, and I believe your child would benefit from using it.
Product review by Kris Price, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, August 2006