Studying Marine Biology Just for Fun! {Review}

Many years ago when my girls were still very young, I was introduced to Apologia Educational Ministries through their Elementary Science Series of books.  We used Exploring Creation Through Astronomy and followed it up with Exploring Creation through Botany.  As the girls grew we continued to include Apologia Science in our home school and in high school all three of the "big" girls used Exploring Creation Through Biology.

Recently, as part of my role with the Homeschool Review Crew, I received Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set.  Apologia generously included the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD.

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that I don't have any high school students anymore.  Boobear graduated from University in May.  In June Tailorbear graduated from our home school high school.  Turtlegirl graduated last year and is away at college. All of them said the same thing "oh man, I wanted to study Marine Biology when I was in high school!"  Much to our mutual disappointment we had run out of time.

Funny how things work out though.  Boobear came to me and asked if it would be okay if she read the textbook.  She still wanted to learn more about Marine Biology.  A few days later she asked me "mom, would it be okay if I wrote in the Student Notebook?"  So my college graduate daughter has started studying Marine Biology just for fun!

So let me tell you about this Marine Biology Course!

The Textbook:

The author is Sherri Seligson with technical editorial contributions from Dr. Robert Carter, PhD Marine Biology.  The text is written to the student in a conversational tone.  It begins with Student Notes that describe the course.

Marine Biology is divided into 16 modules.  The recommend pace of approximately 2 weeks per module plus tests and has students finishing the course in 34 weeks.

When I think of biology I think of studying life forms.  I imagine studying respiratory systems and digestion tracts. I think of dissecting frogs or in the case of Marine Biology fish.  I don't necessarily think of studying the composition of the ocean or the continental drift.  I love that this course covers the geology and ecology of the ocean as well as exploring the all the life forms that live there!

Here's a list of what is covered:
  • Module 1 ~ The Oceans of our Planet
  • Module 2 ~  Life in the Sea
  • Module 3 ~ The First Four Kingdoms
  • Modules 4 & 5 ~ Marine Invertebrate
  • Modules 6 & 7 ~ Marine Vertebrates
  • Module 8 ~ Marine Ecology
  • Module 9 ~ The Intertidal Zone
  • Module 10 ~  Estuary Communities
  • Module 11~ Coral Reefs
  • Module 12 ~ Continental Shelf Communities
  • Module 13 ~ The Epipelagic Zone
  • Module 14 ~ The Deep Ocean
  • Module 15 ~  Ocean Resources
  • Module 16 ~ Effects of Humans on the Sea
 The Text also contains  a Glossary, Index, and several Appendixes.

This is a lab course!

The laboratory exercises fall into one of three categories:  microscope labs, dissection labs, and household labs.   Just as the name implies the household labs use only household equipment.  You'll need a microscope and prepared slides to complete the microscope activities and for the dissection exercises you'll need a dissection specimens kit and tools.  Since Marine Biology is an advanced biology course it is assumed that the student has completed high school biology.  It is also assumed that since they already took Biology they would have a microscope and dissection tools.

This course can be completed without doing the Labs but most colleges and universities require multiple science courses with a lab so this course would fulfill that requirement.

The Student Notebook:

This enormous soft cover spiral bound notebook is divided into four sections:
  • Introduction ~ This section includes a note for parents, rubrics for grading labs and a beautiful schedule that includes all the readings, questions, labs, and tests.
  • Modules Notes, "On Your Own," Study Guide, and Optional Summary ~ This section has pages for students to take notes and has all the questions from the text but laid out with space for the student to write out their answers.
  • Lab Reports ~ Includes the details such as the procedure as well a place to write out observations, and make drawings and diagrams.
  • Presenting Your Research: Creating a Presentation Poster

Solutions and Tests:

In addition to the textbook and the Student Notebook the Advantage Set also includes the paperback Solutions and Tests for Exploring Creation with Marine Biology 2nd Edition.  This came shrink wrapped with a smaller paper pamphlet of just the tests.

The larger solution manual is more than just answers to all of the study guide questions, copies of tests, and answers to tests.  The front section contains helpful information about the course and how to administer the course including grading information.

I love that they included a test only booklet.  If I were using this with my high school students I would not want to administer the test from the Solutions and Tests book nor would I want to deal with trying to make copies of the tests. (It specifically states that you are allowed to make copies if you do not want to administer the tests from the solutions and tests manual.)

The MP3 Audio CD:

The Advantage Set contains everything you need to be successful with the course but Apologia also sent us the Audio CD.  This is sold separately.  It is MP3 Format and must be played with an MP3 compatible cd player or computer.  We found that our DVD player which also plays CDs is MP3 CD compatible.

The CD is  complete audio recording of the book and is read by Marissa Leinart  Students who have difficulty reading the text or who might be auditory learners will find this very helpful. Boobear is very visual so prefers to read the text herself.  For her it would be too difficult to listen to the audio and try to take notes.

For the purposes of this review I listened to a couple sections of Module 1. I noticed that the reading was clear. She was easy to understand. She read at a pace that was fast enough that I wasn't lost but too fast for me to stop and pause. She reads the text including vocabulary definitions and On Your Own questions but she doesn't read figures or captions.  I really wanted her to pause so that I could pause the CD to study the Figures.  She doesn't read the experiments.  Again I wish there was some type of pause built it or a "please stop the CD now and complete the experiment."

I asked Boobear for her thoughts and opinion.  She said:
I really enjoy how this text book is laid out and how the author was clear with the description. I also appreciated that the first module was laying down a very through foundation, while this sometimes was boring I appreciated making sure that the students starting the course knew all the information that needs to be known. 

My favorite thing though is the student notebook. It would have been so much easier in high school to have had that. I was not sure that the note taking was something that I cared about but for students that are unfamiliar to note taking it is great training. I really appreciated the questions being in the note book and the chapter summaries plus study guide. Maybe I take too many notes but I do wish it had more of the Notes pages.  Overall it is so much easier to have a note book that has all of that that you can use with the text book.

There you have it!  A program so well put together that it inspires the learning to continue even after college!  We both recommend Exploring Creation with Marine Biology as an additional science with a lab credit for your biology loving students!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

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