General Science

Course Length: Full academic year (30 weeks)
This Year's ScheduleClick here to view

Overview of Dreaming Spires Science Courses

All our science courses use a unique approach to scientific study -- instead of boring, dry textbooks, students are drawn into the subject through reading modern, award-winning books like The Hidden Life of Trees for Biology, or Elements of Murder for the forensics unit in Chemistry.

We focus on not just scientific facts, concepts, and principles, but often looking at the ethics of a topic and how the issue applies to our modern world. Think, for example, how our unit on viruses (where we read The Hot Zone about ebola) is entering a student's discourse with the rise of Covid-19.

The ultimate aim of the Dreaming Spires Science courses is to obtain a working and applicable knowledge of the principles of science, to engage students in an active and enjoyable way, and to encourage them to see how science is something real and concrete and seen all around them.

Aims of the General Science Course

In our experience of teaching our own children at home as well as a number of students who come to our local co-ops, we have found that there is a gap in high-quality science inquiry for students between the primary ages and those in their later teens. It's not unusual to see students arrive in our high-school courses who are surprised and daunted by the level that seems suddenly thrust upon them.

Dreaming Spires Home Learning's General Science is designed to bridge this gap. Aimed at students in middle school or early high school, this course will cover many of the foundational themes in science that they'll take with them to courses like Biology or Chemistry later.

We will touch briefly on science history, scientific inquiry, science and technologies and different areas of scientific study such as geology, astronomy, botany, biology and basic chemistry. A few labs will be completed using items easily found at home or in the local grocery stores.

This solid foundation is proving crucial to a student's confidence and academic success in science, but more than that, it excites them, motivates them, and even delights them, to the point that some of them set their sights on being a scientist in college and beyond.

To give you an idea, the kinds of books we read for this course are Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World (Miodownik) and Hawking's A Briefer History of Time.

How It Works

Students will attend the weekly one-hour, live, online webinar where their comments and contributions are generally made via chatbox, typing while the tutor uses the mic to present information that expands, deepens, or broadens what was read during the week for homework. Occasionally, we will make use of webcams and microphones, but this is only ever optional.

For the rest of the week, students will work in their own time, reading, responding, and applying what they've learned in class as well as submitting homework. While the work is never *hard*, it is challenging to engage one's brain in all the ways we stretch our students as opposed to most textbook approaches that lack the techniques for retention.

How It Supports Your Child's Education

For both UK and US students, this course is more of a taster and preparation for high school level, and especially good for families where the hope is to generate excitement for science in the future!

Who Teaches General Science?

Kimberly Jones holds a BSN from the University of Texas at Austin and an MEd in Secondary Education from Texas State University. She is currently working on a second master’s degree in Educational Technology with plans to complete her doctorate once her youngest graduates.  Kimberly served in the military as a medic and behavioral health specialist before taking posts in pediatric and post-partum nursing. Since 2001, she has been teaching science in homeschool co-ops while homeschooling her own children -- one of whom attended university, another of whom served in the military, and two more of whom are still at home.
See all courses taught by Kim