A science supplement that engages students in current science research, comprehension skill-building, and hands-on experiments seems almost too good to be true. Not so! Science
Skill Builders actually accomplishes these tasks. This 128-page book includes 20, five lessons in each of four areas: earth, life, physical, and health sciences.
Each lesson includes six pages of material. First, there is a two-page scientific article on a specific topic. (Some of these are taken from the publisher's student magazines.) In most cases, the articles discuss recent world events (such as the tsunami of 2004) or recent research findings. All articles include photographs and/or diagrams and maps for reference. Following the article are two pages of comprehension questions; these vary in nature throughout the book. There are always a few questions that require short written answers and then one or more of the following: vocabulary matching, sentence completions, fact/opinion questions, cause/effect questions, etc. Finally, each lesson has a two-page science experiment, including a page of household materials needed, methods, and a page for lab report findings. Most experiments can be done in a single session, though some require additional days for observation.
The pages of Science Skill Builders are bound in a traditional softcover but could be easily copied for additional students and are intended to be used as reproducibles for a classroom. While the book is not written for homeschool families specifically, only one of the 20 experiments would require modification for a smaller group or an individual.
Our science-minded daughter falls just below the age-range targeted for this book, but she has worked successfully through some of the lessons on her own as an independent study. The program describes itself as "practice" and not a stand-alone curriculum, so families might consider using one of the four topical sections alongside their related science curriculum. This book would also work well for a student who needs additional reading comprehension practice or who desires additional hands-on experiences.
One feature I would have liked to see is a glossary of scientific terms for each article. Some vocabulary words are italicized and defined within the context of the article, but a separate area for these words would enhance the learning of scientific terms and facilitate a review of those words later on.
While skill-building books are not usually something I gravitate toward, this one has proven itself worthy. This is not just another book of science experiments. What sets it apart are the relevant articles that encourage reading and understanding without the format of a traditional textbook. It is a refreshing and well thought out format, and it will be enjoyed from cover to cover by the budding scientists in our home.