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Ask Slashdot: Teaching Chemistry To Home-Schooled Kids?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the coz-what-he-thought-was-h2o dept.

Education 701

First time accepted submitter mikewilsonuk writes "I have a 10-year-old grandson who has shown an interest in chemistry. He is home educated and doesn't read as well as schooled kids of his age. He hasn't had much science education and no chemistry at all. None of his parents or grandparents have chemistry education beyond the school minimum and none feel confident about teaching it. My own memories of chemistry teaching in school are of disappointment, a shocking waste of everyone's time and extreme boredom. I think there must be a better way. Can anyone suggest an approach that won't ruin a child's interest?"

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Thought so. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40248925)

Great! Parents dumb as a rock but have to teach their own kids.
I bet they are above average in Bible study and other Fantasy stuff they are brainwashing him with.
(ending sentences with a proposition included)

Re:Thought so. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249043)

They couldn't possibly be concerned about their child's safety because of a lack of a trained responder at the school or a track record of poorly handling bullying. Nor could they be concerned about substandard results from our country's education system. They couldn't even be atheist liberal arts majors concerned about the influence of the religious right on curiculum. Nope they are the worst kind of folks, religious idiots, because those folks seem the most interested in seeking out help for their shortcomings in instructing their children in science.

Re:Thought so. (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249167)

I have cousins who were homeschooled for most of their school careers. They went to public high school, though, because there are so many resources and social experiences you have there that you don't have at home. They all graduated pretty much at the top of their respective classes. I have no problem with homeschooling if you can provide an excellent education at home.

This grandchild is below-average in reading, which is obviously a crucial component of primary education. Failing at that, and not being comfortable with science, the parents are probably not qualified to be homeschooling the child. It is reasonable, then, to assume that they are not doing it because they can do a better job than the school system. That means it could easily be for religious reasons, which I believe are a terrible reason to homeschool. The submission likely would have said otherwise if that were not the reason.

Re:Thought so. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249349)

The child may be behind due to learning disabilities (dyslexia, etc), that many of the school systems handle very poorly. I have seen children who have made it to 3rd grade not knowing how to read due to dyslexia but the school did not know because of clueless or careless teachers, overcrowding, or lack of well handled funding.

Don't always assume that the homeschooling is due to religious reasons. After all, they did come to a geek/nerd related web site to ask, rather then a church based web site.

Re:Thought so. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249445)

But then we'd missed the opportunity to SLAUGHTER THE STRAWMAN!!!

Re:Thought so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249059)

I bet they are above average in Bible study and other Fantasy stuff they are brainwashing him with.

Generally, homeschooling seems to manifest in either of the two political/religious extremes. For the lefty version, see "unschooling."

Parents care, school systems don't (3, Informative)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249085)

That's blunt, but more often than not it is the truth. For the good of society, I don't like home school, because of its effect on universal education, but it is a response to a problem that nobody seem willing to correct. For Chemistry: []

Re:Parents care, school systems don't (5, Insightful)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249443)

If all parents cared, school systems could focus on what they are best suited to doing -- educating. School systems "fail" when they have to pick up the slack from parents who won't/can't take responsibility for their own children.

Schools can not effectively manage malnourished, abused, ignored or otherwise un-nurtured children no matter how much they "care". Especially when they are dependent on support for the same people who don't think their kids are worth any investment of money or time in the first place.

I agree that universal (and I'll throw in equal) education is good for society. The question is how to bootstrap this potential good from a society with such perverse priorities.

Re:Thought so. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249093)

(ending sentences with a proposition included)

There is, of course, no problem in ending a sentence with a preposition in English. A proposition is a different matter; how about we go back to my place.

Re:Thought so. (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249327)

Sounds like a bad ending to me.

Re:Thought so. (1)

derito (2653051) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249133)

Chances are that the parents have good reasons to so. And even if they don't, someone ranting online probably won't change anything. So try to be at least a little positive and try to help this kid who certainly didn't chose this situation. To be honest it is really hard to know what will interest the child but chemicals that change color are usually fun. Try anhydrous copper sulfate to detect water for example.

Homeschooler here (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249235)

I was above average in everything. I scored above the 99th percentile on pretty much anything anyone cared to tell me I needed to learn and then test me on. And I knew the Bible, too.

u mad?

Re:Homeschooler here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249357)

Yes, they are. You're not supposed to exist in their worldview.

Re:Homeschooler here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249369)

So you scored 99th percentile on the Bible?

This will fix your life. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40248947)

i have an idea (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40248955)

maybe he should be sent to school so that he can get taught by qualified educators

Re:i have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249027)

There are qualified educators in the US?

Re:i have an idea (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249181)

If you break the educational results down by state, you will see that yes, yes there are.

As long as you don't make the mistake of living outside one of the civilized zones, you can actually see results pretty similar to the wealthy bits of Europe and even parts of Asia. Certain other states, by consistently achieving results that make you wonder if they are actually telecommuting from some hellish African warzone, really drag us down...

Re:i have an idea (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249415)

As a student of the US education system, I can personally attest to the problems of the public system. I didn't fail any of my classes, perfect attendance for years, and in my senior year I was told I would be there again next year. Turns out those 'qualified educators' scheduled and taught me classes, but not the ones needed to meet state requirements, my parents pulled me out and I finished that year in a private school taking independent study.

Now I have a 8 year old boy who seems fine to me in second grade, that is until the 4th nine weeks and 2 suspensions from school. One for eating his sandwich into the shape of a gun, then later that day making "finger guns", and going "pew pew" like boys do. They said he was threatening the school with violence. Two weeks before he was suspended for "not keeping his hands to himself" I asked the teacher and found out he was trying to play tag at recess.

I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance school policies.

FYI all of this occurred in the Florida, Treasure Coast area.

Re:i have an idea (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249441)

Why is this rated troll?

If he reads below grade level and none of his current teachers feel qualified to teach him, maybe he should go to school to be taught by qualified folks.

Home schooling should not even be an option if you are not qualified to teach the subjects the child needs or cannot bring in someone else to do so.

Obvious Answer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40248963)

How about enrolling him in a school that doesn't have idiots for teachers.

One word: Explosives (4, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40248971)

My early chemistry researches were finding household chemicals that could blow things up. I found them. YMMV

Re:One word: Explosives (1)

stewski (1455665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249045)

Agreed my teach blew stuff up too (he was irish, it was the 80s, he wasnt PC) stunning!

Re:One word: Explosives (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249205)

A lot of Irish were blowing stuff up in the 80's...

Re:One word: Explosives (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249425)

A lot of Irish were blowing stuff up in the 80's...

This made me laugh uncontrollably, then feel bad for doing so...

Pretty much. (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249087)

At that age, I would suggest to show them what chemistry can do: blow things up (safely), make things turn different colors, make things smell bad, or burn things (again, safely!). Then go into why the stuff is doing what it is doing. Finally, once you explained why it is doing what it is doing, see if you can change things up to come up with different effects.

Leave the boring shit about valence electrons to later. Just show him what chemistry can do. If that doesn't hook him, move on.

Re:Pretty much. (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249361)

On the same note, combine chemistry and home ec. I'm guessing it's harder to be bored when you can eat the results of your experiment.

Some cooking is biology (e.g. yeast and fermenting) but most is chemistry. What are baking soda and baking power used for? What gives foods different flavors (sweet, sour, salty, etc.)? Smell as a whole is why too advanced for that age, but you may want to look at specific odors, such as almond or banana. What is it that makes a banana smell the way it does vs. what you get in banana extract of flavoring used for cooking.

Another thing on the practical side, but not as much fun, is cleaning. Why do we use acid (bleach) for some cleaning tasks but base (ammonia) for others? Definitely cover why you don't mix the two (bleach and ammonia).

There's tons of home experiments, even with the post-9/11 issues with getting certain chemicals. Take a cup of every liquid in the fridge, put a small piece of meat in each. What's happens over the next week?

When you get the electrons and valence and that stuff, go to fireworks. Read & observe--this is not a field for home hands on experimenting. What is added to fireworks to get different colors? Why do different things have different colors when they burn?

Video vice Reading, try Khan (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249377)

Send him to school (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40248975)

Yea, have him taught by people that know something. Send the kid to school

This (0)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40248987)

Re:This (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249035)

Unfortunately you won't find gallon jugs of hydrofluoric acid in a high school chem lab.

Re:This (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249203)

you will at glass etching companies though ;)

Re:This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249313)

This should have gotten at least a +1 for being informative, jeez! I'm off to the glass etching company right now to get some!

Send him to school (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249005)

Send this kid to public school! Or private school. While they aren't perfect it sounds like he is in a pretty bad situation now.

Cause and Effect (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249011)

I presume he's being home schooled for religious reasons; to keep him away from dangerous topics in science like evolution.

Congratulations! Mission accomplished! Your kids have raised yet another generation of uneducated idiots.

Re:Cause and Effect (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249065)

Not all home-schooling is for religious reasons. Sometimes it is just because the local school system is failing the kids. Or ins some cases, because the public school is teaching religious theory instead of science.

A book so good it was banned! (5, Informative)

Abraxas26 (68609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249019)

A good place to start is "The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments" by Robert Brent. Some of the material is a bit dated but the overall presentation is great.

Maybe concentrate on reading. (4, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249025)

Via these magazines he can learn to read AND learn science at the same time: [] [] []
AND audio/video courses on chemistry (a lot of this stuff you can download for free off []

Re:Maybe concentrate on reading. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249125)

Fixed Link: [] [] (Formerly World magazine) These magazines are where I discovered my love of science and learning (and reading).

General CHemistry (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249029)

A good chemistry book you can buy is General Chemistry from Linus Pauling.
I suggest you read it and try to teach him what you learn, or just give him the book and tell him that if he read it he will know chemistry.

Not boring... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249033)

Thermite [] and one-pot reactions of silver [] . Mature adult supervision required for either.

If only... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249037)

There were a place that children could go, and be taught by experts (or at least knowledgable people) about topics their parents we not experts in...

Maybe we could call it... SCHOOL.

And if only this place was free, and there was no barrier to entry...

Oh yes, we have that.

This is what school is for. Send the child to school.

Re:If only... (1)

curiousJan (2528280) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249337)

There were a place that children could go, and be taught by experts (or at least knowledgable people) about topics their parents we not experts in...

Maybe we could call it... SCHOOL.

And if only this place was free, and there was no barrier to entry...

Oh yes, we have that.

This is what school is for. Send the child to school.

I'm guessing that you don't have children. It may be public school, but it sure isn't FREE.

Teaching Chemistry? (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249039)

What are you, training terrorists?

Joking aside, too bad you thought it was boring, it would have been a lot better if you were to have taken an active role in your education.

But now you feel you are qualified to educate your children? Hmmm scary stuff there. I see the welfare roles in your child's future.

Re:Teaching Chemistry? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249273)

Trust me - schools can make chemistry mind-numbingly dull.

I'm a bit of a chemistry geed - not much, but I do read a handful of chemistry blogs on occasion, and I can keep up more often than not. (Recommendation - "In The Pipeline", read the "Things I Won't Work With" category, for all the stuff that makes even a veteran chemist run for cover. Hilarious read.)

But my college chem classes? Literally the first time a class has been just so impossible to care about that I failed it. I think we ran *maybe* one reaction a semester, and it was usually something on the level of "mix a (weak) acid and a (weak) base, determine what salt results". Or pointing a Geiger counter at a sample so old that it was barely above background radiation.

No other class was that dull. Ever. Even my later "introduction to programming" class (aka Pseudocode 101) was more interesting, if only because I could go above-and-beyond and show off by turning in my assignments in x86-64 assembly or LISP. But Chem II? The one time I did, walking through the detonation of a thermonuclear weapon reaction-by-reaction, from the chemical explosives to the fusion reactions to the neutrons bombarding the uranium in the case. And I got an F because my pictures weren't pretty enough.

Re:Teaching Chemistry? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249395)

I think High School chemistry is a test to make sure that only people who really care about chemistry try to go on and do it. What other reason could their be for months and months of tedious math and no labs? And then you do give them a lab and it's incredibly lame--heat up a piece of metal in a flame, write a minimum of 8 pages (not including graphics) report on which parts of the flame are the hottest using the color of the metal. The number of kids interested in Chem II after that were in the single digits.


jschmitz (607083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249051)

Seriously are you kidding??? They can go to church on the weekends really! SEND THEM TO A SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!

Why isn't he in school? (5, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249069)

This sounds like one of those classic cases where the client thinks his knows what he wants but doesn't realize he's wrong.

First, why isn't the child in a regular school system?

Assuming that he's not in public school for some reason, what system is the parents using for education? There exist full homeschooling packages that are intended to give students all the necessary resources to learn.

Assuming he's using one of those and the parents find that the chemistry in it is lacking, why not part-time enroll the child in a local school? From what I understand this isn't all that uncommon for home-schooled kids to get science instruction.

Assuming that's entirely untenable, what about hiring a private tutor for science education? Is there a local university you can contact for resources on this?

Finally, why are you asking Slashdot and not a homeschooling community?

(I'm attempting to avoid any assumptions as to the reason for home schooling.)

Re:Why isn't he in school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249189)

What zerosumhappiness said, and also, if the child isn't reading as well as he/she should be, that needs to be fixed before anything else.

Re:Why isn't he in school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249221)

First, why isn't the child in a regular school system?

Probably because he tries to bite his own face

Re:Why isn't he in school? (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249289)

It's hard to find a home schooling group. Sure, there are a lot of friendly one, but the vast majority are doing it for either:
Religious beliefs.
Ignorance about the schools system.

I say hard, but frankly I haven't found one that doesn't have some crazy illiteracy bouncing around. From young earth to anti-vaccines.

And of course actual science and teaching are disciplines, not something you read from a book.
Personally, My kids go do school during the week, and then I sneak home schooling in under the guise of fun science.
Well, my kids are much older now, so there really isn't any guise about it anymore.

Re:Why isn't he in school? (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249393)

All you need is a five-minute conversation with a bad school administrator and you will never ask "why isn't this child in school?" again. :-)

Sadly... (4, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249077)

Bill Nye []


Beakman's World []

Hey, can't be any worse than the "education" he's received up to this point...

Re:Sadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249155)

You forgot Mr. Wizard.

Re:Sadly... (4, Insightful)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249245)

There are some episodes of Good Eats that would probably be useful.

Re:Sadly... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249309)

have to love Brainiac. And if they have this in there home, it will be the only real "brains" in the house.
Home schooling should be banned like it is in Germany, doing nothing but making America more stupid one right wing religious nut job at a time.

The Periodic Table of Videos by Brady Haran (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249103)

Website []

Youtube Channel []

You'll enjoy watching it yourself. Very not boring.

Reading is fundamental..... (5, Insightful)

E_Ron.Eous (2521544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249127)

to learning anything.

identify elements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249145)

One of my favorite teachers in high school was the chemistry teacher. One day, for a lab he put a several samples of elements on different tables and told us to figure out what was what. We had the lab at our disposal. You looked up various aspects of elements and tested the samples. Does it dissolve, burn, how much does it weigh, if mixed with X, Y , or Z does it react...... we had to figure it out. Lot of fun and it allowed us to explore some of the basic properties of elements and chemical reactions.

DIY project (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249147)

Teach them what can be made with fertilizer.

Re:DIY project (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249183)

Teach them what can be made with fertilizer.

That sounds more like an agriculture class than a chemistry class...

Re:DIY project (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249413)

Teach them what can be made with fertilizer.

That sounds more like an agriculture class than a chemistry class...

Well, you gotta clear that land of pesky boulders and buildings before farming it.

Elementeo (3, Interesting)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249149)

This [] was recommended to me at a technical conference. It's like Magic, but with elements and compounds. Not a formal education, but I think it would be a good way to test the waters regarding his interest and aptitude.

do the kid a favor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249151)

Just enroll him in a local school district. He will be in remedial classes for awhile, but at least will get a real education by trained professionals, not religious freaks.

Get a professional (2, Insightful)

autocannon (2494106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249153)

Listen, Chemistry is not like Reading Riting and Rithmetic. Chemistry is a complex science. It cannot just be suddenly dropped upon an interested 10 year old and hope it sticks. The child needs to fully understand advanced mathematics like Algebra. He must also have proficient reading comprehension because Chemistry texts are not light reading. A basic understanding of Biology would also be greatly helpful. Then there's being able to conduct basic lab experiments to help the child grasp what actually happens with chemical reactions that just can't be appreciated on paper.

That said, from your post you or whoever is available in your family is grossly unqualified to teach this subject. Heck even in schools Chemistry is not usually taught to students that young. Your grandson is already behind. You acknowledge that. If the parents are unwilling to enroll him in school, then in order to get a proper science program taught he needs to have a professional tutor brought in. Not some random tutor who knows basics, but a tutor who can teach the math concepts as well as the introductory science concepts required before he can get into Chemistry. Having someone unqualifed even attempt to teach this will fail. Further, do not rely on the internet for this. Chemistry truly requires hands on experiments to understand and appreciate it.

I'm certain you could contact the local school and try to get more information from them. It's possible the local chemistry teacher would be open to helping.

Maximum Exposure (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249157)

If you want to keep him interested and enthusiastic, expose him to as much chemistry as you can, while educating his teachers. Buy him chemistry sets and beginner books, and have his parents research more advanced things so they can accurately answer his questions as they come up. Take him to Science museums, the hands on kind if you can. Look for summer programs and other focused "day-camp" style STEM programs, im sure you could find some that have a chemistry focus. Even just taking him on tours of nearby chemical manufacturing plants could spark his interest.

Just remember it is your job to assist and guide, not force them to pursue something even after they loose interest (should he do so). I had parents that tried to do that with piano lessons, and it eventually turned into the worst chore i had all week.

Id also recommend getting him involved in some educational social programs, like the Boy Scouts or similar. The merit badge programs are what got me interested in all sorts of things as a kid, and these days they have badges for modern technical stuff Chemistry and Robotics and Programming and the like, not just knots and wilderness survival.

Re:Maximum Exposure (2)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249225)

Buy him chemistry sets...,

Are you crazy? He might never be allowed to board a plane anymore.

You live in the USA? (3, Funny)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249159)

Can't be too difficult to teach the kid about fire, water, earth, and air.

Re:You live in the USA? (2)

BadPirate (1572721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249267)

I thought the Avatar was on Nickelodeon....

This is a troll, right? (1)

blastum (772029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249163)

"Kid can't read well, we haven't taught him any science in his homeschooling, and by the way I thought school was really boring and a shocking waste of everybody's time." Buy him a chemistry set. He'll find all the elements have one or two character names that are easy to read.

Not sure what the best way is, but I do know... (1)

fzammett (255288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249165) should take about 20 paces AWAY from his workstation whenever he starts his "learning".

Get that kid a tutor (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249171)


There are two types of homeschooled students.... dumb as a rock and socially inept

or good at taking tests but can't apply what they learned into real world problem solving and are socially inept.

School (4, Insightful)

V-similitude (2186590) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249187)

This is an obvious failure of home "schooling". Send the kid to school. Let him learn to socialize for one, and get a well rounded education his parents apparently lack. The fact that he's had minimal science education for the first 4-5 grades of his life, is really a sad testament to this type of education.

And just because *you* hated your chemistry education doesn't mean it was bad. People tend to say things are "a waste of everyone's time" when they really mean "it's something I had no interest in / aptitude for".

"Socialization" (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249405)

Let him learn to socialize for one, and get a well rounded education

By "socialize" you mean, get taunted for his slowness in reading, and get beaten down by the kids until all interest in anything dies.

Sounds awesome.

As for a well-rounded education, that's exactly why you would homeschool. The public schools teach to tests, not to understanding, or learning how to learn.

We home shcool: Youtube/Google/Amazon, or co-op (4, Informative)

GodBlessTexas (737029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249191)

My home school kids of MS/HS age are learning chemistry from a PhD chemist through our local home school group co-op. Barring access to a home school co-op, there's plenty of information and fun experiments available that should interest a 10 year old, either from online sources like youtube and google, or from books at Amazon. If you have a local science museum, you can contact them about any local science clubs/groups that cater to children that age. But unless he is more than just interested, most official curriculum is going to be at the high school level and a bit over the head of a 10 year old.

NetLogo? (2)

aldorath (2015452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249193)

There is a free educational package that is good fun - NetLogo - [] It has some models for chemistry in there. Basically it shows chemistry as a complex system using agent based models. But for a ten year old, it's fun because it's visual and intuitive. An idea.

Saddened :( (5, Insightful)

michrech (468134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249201)

I'm glad to see, judging by all the "Anonymous Coward" comments, that I'm not the only one who believes that parents that aren't specifically trained to replace the teachers their children would normally encounter in a public/private school *shouldn't* be allowed to home school. You are doing nothing but a HUGE disservice to your child(ren) by keeping them from their peers, sheltered from the world, and away from opinions that are different from yours. We all *NEED* these kinds of interactions in order to better cope with the world when we become adults and move out on our own.

If the parents that do this to their kids use the "schools aren't safe", "schools aren't teaching what I think they should be", or "schools are failing our children" excuses should *get involved* in their local school, and encourage all other parents to do the same. If their schools really are falling behind in some way, it's *THE PARENTS FAULT* for not being involved.

I specifically left out any of the varied religious excuses, as I don't believe they're valid -- religion has zero place in a publicly funded school, and should be reserved exclusively for church and home. If parents want their child to have some schooling with religious content, they need to pay to send them to such a school.

I also don't want to hear any of this "I don't have the time to get involved in (insert public school function) here" excuses. If you don't have the time to raise your kid(s) properly, DON'T HAVE THEM.

The answer is obvious. (4, Insightful)

JosephTX (2521572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249207)

It doesn't sound like you or his parents are suited to school him, then. Send him to school before you ruin his life. You and/or his parents should be ashamed.

Start simple (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249217)

Explain basic reactions. Don't get into Moles, or math.

Give him the tools, get him to ask question and experiment.
When something happen and he want to know why, don't tell him. Show him how to find out. My kids are quite internet savey because often when they wan to know something, I'll find a good page, and read it with them. You're not lecturing, they are digging. I never said 'just cause' to my kids. when they wen through their Why phase I answered everything as accurate as reasonable, and if I didn't know, we looked it up. Every time I hear parent create a disengenious answer I cringe a little. ITwill be so hard to gte that piece of bad information out of their head.

If he is into something, have a goal related to that that can be solved with what you want to teach, in this case chemistry, then do that.

For example, maybe he is into trains. Well, what chemicals can you get to have him experiment with to make smoke?
Volcanoes? well , that's an easy one.

When he figures something out, but wan'ts it to be better, then introduce to some more complex chemistry ideas.

If you want to impress him, make some elephant toothpaste. Get your supplies from a chemistry supply place.

Mentos at soda is another great way to get them to ask question.

OTOH, if his homeschooling was done by lazy people, he may have had the why in him buried deep under a lie of belief. SO you need to gently get it back out.

Re:Start simple (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249355)

I'm not the submitter, but thank you for actually thoughtfully answering the question instead of posting uninformed rants about home schooling.

My worst teachers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249237)

My worst teachers were the ones that seem to have had no interest in what they were teaching. Since you suggest your interest in chemistry wasn't exactly a lot, I think you will be a bad teacher.

Also, are you sure home schooling is the best option here.

Cooking is chemistry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249253)

Take him into the kitchen to start with the chemistry education.
A good starter video is at

Khan Academy (5, Informative)

BadPirate (1572721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249255) []

Sounds to me like home schooling is letting the kid down a bit. I loved my public Chemistry / physics education... Making rockets, playing with Science Olympiad, Egg Drop contests. I remember on the first day in my High School chem class, the teacher demonstrated infra-red radiation and the speed of light by taking a bowl filled with soap water, and a propane tap, and creating (and then lighting on fire) propane bubbles. He pointed out that as soon as you saw the flash, you felt the heat, and then went into a lecture about wave radiation and the light spectrum.

You can probably do that with your own kid, but there is something to be said about the benefits of learning something from someone who is passionate about the material.

Re:Khan Academy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249359)

This, a million times. If you accept and do not argue against the child's situation, then the most comprehensive (and critically, accessible) resource of educational materials available to the private residence is Khan Academy. Use it for chemistry, use it for everything else.

Negative reactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249259)

I am surprised at all the negative, bigoted reactions to homeschooling by followers of a website that is for geeks. Not all homeschooling is religious in nature. Also, not all of it is "unschooling" some parents are just concerned that the school system was not actively trying to engage their children, or where disappointed by the level of education that they saw. Heck, they could even be disappointed at the cheating that the schools are doing on the tests so that they keep their funding from the "No Child Left Behind" crap. After all, public school seems to have done all you sheeple good.

That being said, there are some good, actual answers in this thread also (tutors, part time enrollment, local universities , etc).

High School (1)

knarfling (735361) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249269)

I didn't get involved in chemistry until high school where there was a proper lab. I had tons of fun as well. When the teacher was having us heat salt to show the difference between ionic an covalent bonds, I was using the bunson burner as a blow torch to melt the salt into a slag. When we mixed chemicals to make "cold light," I managed to send a pool of fire down the drain just in time for the teacher to see it, but not who did it.

Although I must have had chemistry in lower levels of school, it must not have made much of an impression on me, because I cannot remember it. It didn't turn me off to chemistry, though, because I had so much fun in high school.

My advice? Don't try to do too much this early. Focus on simple chemical reactions and safety. (Rule 1. Hot glass looks exactly the same as cold glass.)

Hmmm ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249275)

He is home educated and doesn't read as well as schooled kids of his age. He hasn't had much science education and no chemistry at all. None of his parents or grandparents have chemistry education beyond the school minimum and none feel confident about teaching it.

At some point, someone might tell you that if you can't keep him up to the standards of the kids who aren't home schooled, he's going to need some remedial education and possibly be required to attend public school -- and possibly lose a year in the process.

I had some cousins who were home-schooled ... and there was a curriculum they were required to have covered. And if they didn't, you weren't allowed to home-school any more and would need to transition to public school. I think for high-school or even a little before they all ended up going back to public school.

So, are you helping or him or hurting him in the long run if you can't get him through what he needs? It's difficult to teach something you don't know enough about yourself.

Who's teaching it? (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249279)

Wait... so this person is teaching it? Or the kid's parents? Or the other grandparents?

If I were going to teach chemistry to my grandkid, it would be different from trying to spark interest in chemistry. If I have grandkids someday, I'll be getting them toys like DNA/skeletal/atomic model manipulatives. My brother got a set of atom manipulatives once for school (disclaimer: I was homeschooled), and they're incredibly addicting to play with, even if you're not building molecules out of atoms and sticks. Watching videos about dropping gummy bears in potassium chloride or pouring thermite on computer hard drives helps, too.

But if I were going to teach homeschool chemistry, I'd make sure that I introduce physical science early in school (like, 9th grade), and consult my college chemistry textbook when teaching chemistry. This would be hard if you've never learned chemistry. Some homeschooling curriculums offer video courses, and some homeschool groups get together and go to an actual high school facility for these classes. I'd recommend this to anyone who hasn't had chemistry, but is faced with teaching it.

Re:Who's teaching it? (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249385)

My bad - physical science principles are taught all of the way through elementary and middle school in the U.S. So 9th grade isn't early. That's when you'd get a dedicated course in physical science.

Home School Group (0)

Khomar (529552) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249283)

Are there any home school groups in your area? Getting involved in a local home school group is a great way to get materials and resources that you don't personally have. Many groups offer courses in subjects like Chemistry for all of the families in the area in addition to group activities like choir or sports. Even smaller towns are likely to have some sort of home school group if you look for it.

Also, are you sure he doesn't read as well as his peers, or does he just not read as well as you remember kids his age reading? From my experience, if he is not reading as well as his public educated peers, there is something very wrong. My boys are home-schooled, and while they started a little "slow" for the first year due to the different approach, they rapidly moved beyond the level of most public school kids and are now pretty advanced for their age. Reading in public schools (or the lack thereof) is a joke with close to half of the students graduating not being able to read. This skill is far more important than any other because it is through reading that you can learn virtually anything else. Make sure that is a priority.

Other 10-year-olds don't study chemistry (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249295)

I don't remember studying chemistry as such when I was 10 years old and in the regular school system. I am not a teacher but I think you will find that instructional materials for chemistry are aimed at high-school age students. Not to put down 10-year-olds, but if memory serves most of them are still a bit shaky on non-integer arithmetic. I can't imagine studying chemistry without a basic grasp of algebra.

That said, there are lots of books of general "science experiments you can do at home!" Some of those experiments count as chemistry.

My advice: go to the public library and talk to the children's librarian.

Maybe this is the wrong forum (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249317)

Meaning no offense to Slashdotters, but I think you will also get good answers on an online forum for home-schooling parents. Surely some of them have encountered a similar situation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249363)

It's something that may prove a useful supplement to whatever you may find.

Why hate on homeschooling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249365)

First I wanted to ask why everyone is hating on homeschooling? The current school system is so screwed up and is really turning into a prison nowadays. Look at schools in TX and CA who are trying to track our kids with GPS everyday all day. Or in PA who hand out tax paid for laptops and then freaking spy on the kids and in some cases while they shower. Theres many examples of why I refuse to allow my kids in this current school system. Not to mention finger printing to get your lunch you know useing biometrics cause its the cool tech thing to do. At some point it will be abused and everyone will ask how did that happen. Nothing wrong with finger scanning to get lunch when entering a pin would be so much harder for a child to remember. Anyways I could go on for hours on this. If anyone wants more examples I have many many more. So with that said most home school kids do way better then their counterpart in academics. I know someone will say ya but what about socializing your kids etc. When I went to school I got in trouble for talking in class alot and remember my mom telling me that I went to school to learn not socialize. Funny how everyone says your kids have to now. Besides dont we have enough socialist already. I need to recommend a book thats free online now and its called---- THE DELIBERATE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA. Do yourself a favor if you have kids and read or even skim over it as it is important and will open your eyes. I believe it was written by Mrs Reggan but dont quote me on that.

As for the science stuff in the 80's there was an old guy on PBS that I used to love watching. He would do all sorts of experiments and thats what got me interested in science. Im sure someone knows of whom Im talking about and chime in with the name. Thats a great start for any kid into science and chemistry.

What? Chemistry was the best subject in school! (1)

Hazelfield (1557317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249371)

You must have had really poor teachers. There are SO many ways of making chemistry fun, and not all of them involve hard-to-get chemicals. You can start out with just boiling water on a bunsen burner to teach him some safety procedures and tell him about the different states of matter. Sounds boring? My 12-year-olds loved it. Molecule models are fun to build. You can do all sorts of fun tricks with indicators of pH (like water that turns red, then transparent, then red again). You can blow up a hydrogen balloon (use a match on a stick!) and if you want to make it extra fun add some aluminum or iron powder in the balloon. Mix an alcohol with an acid and get an ester. Soap bubbles are fun. Baking soda and water is fun. Lemon batteries are fun. Stuff that burns is always fun, no matter what. Stuff that flies is always fun, no matter what. Even trite knowledge like the periodic table can be made fun with rhymes or the like.

The Internet is your friend. Check out some Youtube videos. Ask on a teachers' forum. Search the web. The tricky part is seldom finding fun things to do, but rather to do them in the right order and connect the experiment to the actual chapter you're teaching. You also have to remember that abstract material like protons, neutrons and electrons can be challenging to a young kid. Check out a curriculum to get an idea about what subjects to teach at what age.

World of Warcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249379)

Have his level 85 Paladin drop Enchanting (which is not based in real life) and learn Alchemy. The combination of various materials should teach him the Chemistry he needs.

Walter White (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249387)

If you're anywhere near Albuquerque, you should try to get Walter White as a tutor.

Chemistry setups typically found in homes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40249407)

Meth lab!

software simulator (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249419)

I don't know if this even exists or not, but I think it would be helpful to have a software package that can visualize compounds, electron transfers, maybe simulate simple reactions. I learn a lot from just playing with stuff, but it's hard with chemistry because it requires many specialized equipments, dangerous chemicals, lab area, etc... So having a software package that would let me "play" around with various things I think would have helped tremendously in learning chemistry. Just doing a quick Google search reveals this package which looks kinda cool:
Virtual Lab Simulation []
Naturally this would need to be accompanied by some textbooks, online instruction, etc... but I think it would be a huge help...

I've seen Home Schooling work well. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40249437)

Of course, it requires motivated, non-dumbfuck parents.

I've had a variety of home-schooled Airmen as subordinates in the Air Force and they did as well or better than the conventionally-schooled folks. They were technically proficient at aircraft maintenance and good learners and workers.

Even religious parents (and if you've seen my other posts you know I despise superstition!) can do a good job challenging their kids and exposing them to (shock, horror) science.

There are some HORRID local public schools from which I agree home schooling can rescue children. It's legit to do that, but in that case the parents should seek tutors to do what they aren't equipped to do.

Contact a local college. There may be students who will work cheap for some extra cash off the books.

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