Free Secular Science for Homeschool: Forensics Illustrated: Step Under the Tape
Many of you have asked for a high school level science curriculum that is fun, challenging, and inexpensive. This complete curriculum is free. The only charges you will incur will depend on the lab supplies you purchase. If you are looking for something completely out of the box then this is the course for you and your teens.
Forensics Illustrated: Step Under the Tape
Developed and utilized by Brennon Sapp during his nine years teaching forensics to high school students, this complete curriculum in its entirety has been published on-line at www.bsapp.com free of charge. If you are so moved, he lists a PayPal address for donations.
The curriculum includes:
- Student Text
- Photos and Sketches
- Answer Keys
- Additional Web Resources
The curriculum begins with a short introduction of the origins of forensic science and quickly moves to the collection of various types of evidence and the manners by which they are processed. It is important to note up front that the curriculum includes some information of a more graphic nature-- in-depth discussions of drug use/paraphernalia and autopsies, for example-- and may not be suitable for younger students.
I decided to teach forensic science in order to tie together the information gathered in our previous science studies. I wanted to show my son how biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and astronomy all came together in a real life application. To that end, I found Forensics Illustrated fit the bill perfectly. I was able to gloss over or skip altogether the information that I considered too graphic for his age. I loved the worksheets and the review sheets that are provided for each chapter, and the tests were certainly challenging.
We were not able to use the majority of the labs because unless you have access to a complete science lab, it’s just not realistic. Now, I know this is going to sound nitpicky, but when I use a curriculum, I expect the spelling and grammar to be perfect and that was not always the case with this curriculum. I also found that the answers to test questions did not always properly correlate to the text; this is particularly evident in chapters eight and nine. It was not difficult to make these few changes myself, and when a curriculum this complete is free, who am I to complain? Although there were obstacles to overcome with this curriculum, both my son and I enjoyed it a great deal. It really was a perfect way to tie together all of our previous science classes and jump-start the high school science experience.
ADAPTING THE CURRICULUM TO MEET SPECIFIC NEEDS
This curriculum does not allow for a great deal if wiggle room. It cannot be used without a great deal of alteration for kids below the eighth grade as the subject matter is mature and sometimes graphic. As a homeschooler, I found that I needed to make sweeping changes to the lab work. Obviously, I do not have access to the plethora of materials available in a high school lab. This made conducting some of the experiments impossible. It is also evident by the content that Mr. Sapp used slides to supplement this course that are not available on the website. I got creative and found my own solution to the lab problem. Home Science Tools is a phenomenal company that specializes in providing homeschoolers with science supplies. I was able to find a crime scene science kit and a blood typing kit at a very reasonable price. This meant I was able to tie in my own experiments to the chapters in the text. To deal with the lack of slides, I simply eliminated those questions from the tests and inserted photos from the text for identification.
Content Rating: 5/5
Adaptability Rating: 2/5
Ease of Use Rating: 4/5