Chemistry 101 on the Road {Review}

In exchange for this review, The 101 Series gave us a copy of Chemistry 101. Some other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed Physics 101 and Biology 101. You can learn all about what others had to say by clicking on this banner:

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

What is The 101 Series?

I’m feeling very bullety, so I’m going to write almost everything with bullets. Yup, crazy fun.

  • high school science courses
  • video courses
  • one year long
  • Biblical world view
  • created by Westfield Studios and Wes Olson, a veteran filmmaker
  • include printables–quizzes and a guidebook
  • include printable PDF course accreditation program booklet


Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
What is Chemistry 101?

I’m done being bullety. I’m feeling prosaic now. Let’s use full paragraphs, shall we?

The Chemistry 101 class that The 101 Series sent us is a full year of high school chemistry on video from a Biblical perspective. (When I say video, I mean DVD. Let’s just accept that I’m olde.) It comes with four discs. The first three contain 19 video sessions running anywhere from 20-45 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time to listen to someone talk about chemistry, but this guy kept us glued and he also made us (okay me) laugh…a little too much for chemistry lessons. I got some stares.

Each lesson is expected to last you two weeks if you do “the works.” If you want to merely introduce your kids to chemistry and not do the labs, you will still learn! So, theoretically, you could finish this whole thing in a month if you’re using it as an overview or introducing your younger kids to it or refreshing your own olde brain…use your imagination.

The final disc includes printables, including quizzes/tests and a full one-year course book–“the works” I mentioned earlier. There is a booklet you can print for accreditation, if you’re concerned about that…which I’m not…but probably should be. Wink. Using the accreditation booklet and the included suggestions for additional learning and activities, this course stands alone as a one-year high school science course–a pretty big deal. Otherwise, you can use it as a supplement to something else you’re doing.

The final disc also includes a schedule. Sigh of relief! (This is where I interject something about not being a slave to a schedule, about using it as a spine–flexible, but supportive–and perhaps say something about the joy and freedom of year-round homeschooling…with breaks. Assume I said all that, ‘kay?)

This is a lab course, so if you do the lab work, it will count as your high school lab credit on your high school transcript. (Am I getting redundant here?) The labs mostly use common household items, so you won’t have to send your last paycheck off to deepest Peru for a rare monohaki. (I made that word up.) There is a list at the beginning of the accreditation booklet, so you can get all your goodies up front.

It’s pretty easy to work field trips into some of these lessons, but you’ll also get a pretty good edu-ma-cation sitting on your keister and watching the videos and eating popcorn.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Chemistry 101 is broken down into four parts as follows:

  1. The Road to the Periodic Table–this starts 3000 years ago (get out your timeline books to make some amazing connections) with stories from history about how we began breaking components of our known world down into the periodic table of elements. Assures us that by the end of Chem 101, we’ll be chums with the PT–what it means, how to read it, and how to explain it to someone els.
  2. Chemistry Essentials–this portion digs deeper into the chemical world. You’ll even learn how to balance seemingly overwhelming but actually extremely comprehensible chemical equations. I geek out over this stuff…and I’m not a science person…or am I? 
  3. Meet the Elements: this is where you get to know every single element perfectly–have them over for dinner, learn their nicknames–it’s pretty cool. And, yes, get one of those laminated periodic table of the elements placemats from your favorite school store, because you’re going to want to memorize that baby! I mean, everyone loves memorizing the PToE, right?
  4. Future of Chemistry–this is about the future of chemistry. You’re welcome. Isn’t it fascinating that your CHEM101 class begins 3000 years ago and ends rather open-endedly in the future? It’s a history lesson and science study all in one. You will want to keep those timeline books handy!

Bible talk time:

You can tie this study into your Biblical studies a bit. Genesis 4 talks about Tubal-Cain, the craftsman in bronze and iron. Bronze is an alloy, so that required some extreme skill in extracting the necessary elements and creating the material he needed.

Our CHEM 101 instructor emphasizes how we stand on the shoulders of brilliant men that have gone before to reach the heights we have reached now. This is very important and humbling, particularly in a world where our elders are looked down on and we have come to think we “know it all.” What we know is only because it was revealed by God and discovered by others. We just build on it.

May I say that I love a science teacher who carries a pocket Bible. Science and Scripture are not incompatible. Science proves Scripture. Can I have an amen here…unless you’re German Lutheran, in which case a slight inclination of the head will do. Thank you.

May I also say that one of my new favorite people of all time is Robert Doyle. He is one of the greatest scientists ever, and, whoa, totally agrees with my last paragraph. Look him up.

Some concerns you might have:

While this is a high school course, your tagalong younglings are not going to be exposed to anything objectionable…unless you object to God as Master of the Universe. My 2nd grader watched it with us and did say, “Am I supposed to understand this stuff?” So, they might not “get it,” but they’re not going to see bad stuff.

The videos are not cheesy, B-rated, early Christian film type. They are well done…in my opinion. I really enjoyed watching them.

The labs mostly use common household items, so you won’t have to send your last paycheck off to deepest Peru for a rare monohaki. (I made that word up.) There is a list at the beginning of the accreditation booklet, so you can get all your goodies up front for each video segment. (I know I said this earlier, but I bet you skimmed and missed that part.)

Okay, in brief:

I laughed. I learned. I love this CHEM101 class. I also like saying CHEM101 out loud to my kids, because they’ve never gone to a real high school and maybe they think I’m cool with my code.

There is a potential con, depending on how good you are at steering around obstacles. You can read about it in the next section:

Additional Thoughts for my Fellow Roadschoolers

That con I mentioned…it’s this: the printing. Oh how I hate printing. But I need something in my hands. I like books, people. I don’t like finding trailer space for them, but I like them anyway. And for science, a subject I geek out about but really need to work hard at, a book is very important to me. Or so I thought.

Not having a book, surprisingly, doesn’t take away from the course. Strangely, for this subject, I find myself learning just as well with the video than I did with a book…maybe even better. (Sorry books–I still love you!)

And because this is a video course with all the material on tiny little discs, you don’t need shelf space! All you’re really printing and storing (or throwing away) is quizzes (or just do them out loud or straight from the screen like us) and the guidebook (or just glance at it on the disc now and then, like us).

So my one con (no book, some printing…that makes two cons) isn’t really a con if you’re good with oral quizzes or quizzes from a computer onto paper, and if you can learn through a video, which most of you should be able to do, because the instructor is great…and there’s a rewind button on your video machine.

If you can’t do a lab because, hey, you are on the road and life is not like life in a house and sometimes you can’t even make a pizza much less do a chemistry experiment, it’s okay. The labs are all shown on the video. The kids can still practice writing up lab reports. Just press pause during the experiment so they can make their hypotheses and then continue.

No internet connection, no shelf space, very little weight, no truly major supplies needed, four holders taken up in your DVD case…or shove them all in one (I’ve never squeezed in more than three…and we scratch discs up a lot…so never mind shoving them in together)–it’s a road-friendly upper level science course. There, that one last reason for not hitting the road is gone. Get on out there!

Learn what others have to say:

Remember, other Homeschool Review Crewers (I think I just made up another word) are looking at Chemistry 101 as well as Physics 101 and Biology 101, so check them out here, or visit The 101 Series’ social media links below. I really like this review of Chemistry 101 by a more normal homeschooler over at Unexpected Homeschool, so check it out, too, if you’re hunting for a chemistry course. Speaking of physics (and you’ll learn why this is physics and not chemistry in the course), I smell a stinky diaper. Outta here!

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @the101series


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