Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: AIMS Education Foundation's Earth Book

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we had a chance to choose one of six products from AIMS Education Foundation as the one we'd most like to review.  I had a hard time deciding, but went with the Earth Book, which is intended for grades 6-9.  I used this with William off and on over the past few weeks.

When this arrived, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I don't know why.  But this book is so much bigger and thicker than I anticipated.  If I thought about the description of the book, "48 activities—446 pages" which was right there in front of me, I would have realized that 446 pages is a LOT.

So I finally got up the nerve to actually open the book... and read all about rubber band books and some other general introductory information.  These rubber band books are part of basically every activity... so I didn't dare to start until I could purchase some #19 rubber bands, whatever that meant.

I failed miserably.  Wal-Mart didn't have them, Staples didn't have them, Office Depot didn't have them... so I determined I was just going to make do.  Should have done that earlier.

Maybe they'd be nicer all fastened together, but just folding them up did enough for our purposes.

Okay, so let's back it up and talk about this a bit more.  First -- what you get for your $49.95.  You get a huge book, which is intended for the teacher, and it does include a fair amount of educationaleze with stuff to show how the activity meets NCTM Standards or NRC Standards or what-have-you.

You also get a CD-ROM that contains the pdf files for all the student pages.  Oh, wow, is this ever nice.  So that little book above?  I didn't have to lay my huge book down on a photocopier... I pulled up a pdf file and just hit print.  Easy-peasy.

The book covers various areas of Earth Science:
  • The Hydrosphere
  • The Geosphere
  • The Atmosphere
  • and finally Interactions (between those 'spheres')
Fabulous organization.

Once I started actually doing the lessons (instead of looking for #19 rubber bands), I found this was much easier to implement than I expected.  Let's pick a lesson on the Hydrosphere...  this one on the temperature layers in the oceans.

There is a 2 page section directed at the teacher that includes the information on the standards being met, along with some nice little statements about what the point of this lesson is, what stuff you need, and some background information.  I would often end up reading the background info aloud.  Just because.

There are also classroom management suggestions, which are clearly geared to a classroom.  I skimmed these because they did give me a feel for how the lesson was to work.

This particular lesson involved reading some "clue cards" and using those clues to label the layers of the ocean, their depths and their temperatures.  You end up graphing this information in two very different ways, and then have a discussion about what information is best conveyed with each type of graph.

I love this kind of activity.  It doesn't just present the information, the student has to do a little thinking to put it together.  But I particularly love having it shown differently, which really illustrates the advantages and disadvantages in how data is presented.  We got into lots of discussion about some of the global warming charts and why one group would choose a certain graph or scale, while those on the opposite side of that issue would choose to demonstrate the data differently.

All in all, we have enjoyed this book, and I will consider other titles.  Other members of the crew with middle-schoolers had the chance to review a math book, Area Formulas for Parallelograms.  Now that I've written my review, I want to go check those out.

You can read what other TOS Crew Members have to say about these and products for younger students too, here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive this book in exchange for my review of the product.  All opinions are my own, and receiving complimentary products does not factor in to my opinions.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I was surprised at how well we liked this book. My daughter now wants to finish it instead of the science we ordered for this year.