Have you ever heard of limacology? Do you know the difference between pharmacognosy and pharmacology?
Okay, so maybe we don’t need to be able to define the study of slugs or distinguish between the specific study of drugs of animal and plant origin and the study of drugs in general. But, when it comes to tackling homeschool science, it is helpful to understand the different sciences and how they interrelate.
Breaking Science Down
The word science is a broad term that refers to a state of knowledge or the ability to know. There are three major fields of scientific study, including formal science, which covers mathematics and logic; social science, focusing on the various studies of human society; and natural science, the study of natural and measurable phenomena. When we talk about science courses in school, natural science is what we are actually referring to.
Natural science can, in turn, be broken down into numerous branches, all of which tend to interrelate and interconnect in mind-boggling fashion! Fortunately, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what branches are important for homeschoolers.
Depending on the curriculum, your location, or the interest of your child, somewhere between seventh and ninth grade you will find yourself teaching a course called physical science. As a course, physical science is a basic, introductory study of non-living things. As a branch of natural science, though, it is anything but basic!
Here are some of the major sub-branches categorized under physical science:
- Physics can be summarized as the study of matter, energy, and force.
- Chemistry is the study of the composition, behavior, structure, and properties of matter.
- Earth science refers generally to any science related to the planet Earth.
- Astronomy or space science covers the study of everything else in outer space.
Again, somewhere along the way, your student will probably take a life science or general science course. But, as a sub-branch of natural science, life science refers to any study related to living organisms.
Here are some of the life science sub-branches you may encounter while homeschooling:
- Biology is among the most general of life sciences, covering the study of living organisms.
- Zoology is a biological study focusing on the animal kingdom.
- Botany focuses on plant life and may also be referred to as plant science or plant biology.
- Human biology encompasses the study of the human body and includes such sub-disciplines as anatomy and physiology.