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  1. #1

    Default HS Science Textbook Question

    I have a question about using used textbooks for science. How old is too old? I am sure it depends on the science, and I am sure that the parts that are outdated can be corrected with other resources, but it will help to have an idea.

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  3. #2

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    I don't have a hard and fast rule for "too old", but I'm using a physics book with copyright date 1993--older than my kids. Yes, it may not have the cutting edge materials in the newer fields/discoveries. But if you're looking for the basics, I think you can go within 20-30 years, if it makes it less expensive. In the classes I teach, the books (used) are typically only $3-10 for the student, since I don't go with the newest edition.

    The only downside is IF you need the peripheral materials--lab books, solution manuals, workbooks--they might be harder to find. But not impossible.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3

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    The basic facts of most science fields have not changed much in many decades. Newton's laws are still the same. The names and dates of discoveries and inventions are still the same.

    Pluto's not a planet anymore, you may have to correct an older astronomy book but that's not a deal breaker in my opinion if the book is otherwise usable. Some chemistry books won't include the more recent elements that have been discovered but that information won't change the procedures for calculating chemical formulas. I actually think that kind of information would be fun to add in just as a "fun fact" when you reach a part of the book where that information would be relevant. If you aren't sure what changes might have occurred since the book was printed, just google "changes in [insert science field] since [insert the year the book was published]". If it seems like there have been major game changing changes since the book was published, more than you want to research or have your child research, then you might want to look for a newer book.
    Last edited by MapleHillAcademy; 04-14-2018 at 03:24 PM. Reason: stupid auto correct

  5. #4

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    OK, cool, thanks. That is helpful. We went to a library book sale today and we bought the 10th Edition, McGraw Hill Biology book (published 2010) by Sylvia Mader for $1.00. I have to look at it in more detail, and for $1.00, you can't really go wrong.

    If nothing else I could use some of the the pictures and copy them as handouts. I was wondering if my son likes it, if it would be terrible to use it as the main text. I doubt there would be too much to correct in bio, and it is his least favorite of the sciences.
    Last edited by HobbitinaHobbitHole; 04-14-2018 at 04:49 PM.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MapleHillAcademy View Post
    The basic facts of most science fields have not changed much in many decades. Newton's laws are still the same. The names and dates of discoveries and inventions are still the same.
    This is simply not true. There have been some major, groundbreaking changes in science in the last two decades.

    Not all of it is applicable to the high school level, of course. As I understand it, physics that's taught in high school is mostly the same as when we were in school. However, you absolutely do not want an older biology book. Even 2010 might be pushing it a little bit, though I'm not totally sure. Biology - even at the high school level - now includes a great deal of biochem. Our understanding of genetics and the human genome project (and other genome projects) has been trickling down to make some big, big changes in our understanding. Classification systems are radically different. Our understanding of diseases is very different. As I understand it, this stuff is now all being taught very differently in high school biology now.

    I'm not sure about subjects like chemistry and Earth sciences... I wouldn't do anything older in Environmental Science either, but that's because it's a rapidly changing field. While I know there have been chemistry discoveries, I have no idea if older chem texts are okay or not.
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  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
    Not all of it is applicable to the high school level, of course. As I understand it, physics that's taught in high school is mostly the same as when we were in school.
    Which is why I answer the question in the context of basic facts and high school science in general as she asked about in her original post. She didn't originally ask about a specific field of science, just high school science in general.

    My high schoolers and young adult children are learning or recently learned the exact same basic information in public school science classes that I did over 20 years ago. Very little in the basics of science has changed and the basics is all college professors want and expect most incoming freshman to know. The number of college science professors I've heard bemoan the fact that more and more incoming freshman know about bleeding edge and experimental science but are woefully lacking in basic concepts and scientific computation makes me confident in the fact that using an older text and teaching the basic concepts and computations in high school is more than enough.

  8. #7

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    For some subjects - like physics - that's true. But I have had many educators and scientists explain to me that biology is a radically different course in high school these days. You can see it looking at the AP bio curriculum, for example. And there are, indeed, some major changes in biology since we were students. It's stuff that filters down to the level of elementary students, for example. Like, if you're still teaching the "kingdoms" of life, then you're teaching information that is fundamentally incorrect now - and that's stuff that first graders sometimes learn. Our understanding of science is a changing thing.

    I think we just have to be careful. I would feel fine with a physics book that's older. I'd probably feel fine with a chemistry book, though I'd want to double check that. Astronomy... not so much? Earth science... maybe? I'd want to check. Biology? No way. I mean, twenty years ago, we didn't have an understanding of the symbiosis between ourselves and our germs, which we now know is really important. And we weren't teaching much biochem at all. Now that stuff is core in most high school courses.
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  9. #8

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    I just want to say... I think even as laypeople we can see how different our understanding of biology is these days. This doesn't seem like a big question at all. If your kids are doing the same thing as 20 years ago, sure, they're probably going to be okay. I don't think any one thing makes or breaks our homeschools. We all do what we can. But nor would I want to purposefully refuse to update my textbooks for a subject that has changed that much.

    I mean, we laugh at the Christians who are still doggedly using century old geology texts that don't acknowledge plate tectonics. I refuse to fall into that trap.
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  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by HobbitinaHobbitHole View Post
    I doubt there would be too much to correct in bio, and it is his least favorite of the sciences.
    Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
    You can see it looking at the AP bio curriculum, for example.
    I don't think the OP was looking for her son to take AP Biology if it is not a subject he interested in. AP classes usually use books specifically for AP classes or college level books since AP classes can give college credit. In which case, I no longer consider it a high school course anyways which makes this whole conversation a moot point.

    Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
    I mean, we laugh at the Christians who are still doggedly using century old geology texts that don't acknowledge plate tectonics. I refuse to fall into that trap.
    Actually, I find laughing at people because they are misinformed to be a deplorable practice. I would rather attempt to educate them or just agree to disagree. In the grand scheme of things, the fact that any one of any religion believes that proven science is a disputable fact is of little consequence to me but it would be haughty of me to laugh at them.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by HobbitinaHobbitHole View Post
    OK, cool, thanks. That is helpful. We went to a library book sale today and we bought the 10th Edition, McGraw Hill Biology book (published 2010) by Sylvia Mader for $1.00. I have to look at it in more detail, and for $1.00, you can't really go wrong.

    If nothing else I could use some of the the pictures and copy them as handouts. I was wondering if my son likes it, if it would be terrible to use it as the main text. I doubt there would be too much to correct in bio, and it is his least favorite of the sciences.
    I think you'll be find with your selection, especially as you are using it to "check off the biology" box for high school. Biology was not a favorite for either of my kids as well. I made sure they learned about cell structure and function, BASIC genetics, plant and animal classification, and evolution, which I'm pretty sure a 2010 text would include. (I think you'll find even more material than that I just listed, but as I stated in another thread about high school science texts, there is almost always more info in the text that can be covered in a typical school year.)

    ETA: I found the table of contents for that particular text online. You'll be fine!
    Last edited by inmom; 04-15-2018 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Added more
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

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HS Science Textbook Question