A Science for Non-Sciency Homeschooling Mothers - A Review of Chemistry 101 (An Overview of God's Chemical World)

Can I just step in here for a bit and give a huge shout out to the Chemistry 101 DVD instructional program?  Would you mind?  Because, really, when you're educating at home and you find a program that is really well done, you've got to share it, I think.  The Chemistry 101 program is really well done, friends, and if you have a child interested in chemistry, I highly recommend it.

The full title is Chemistry 101 - An Overview of God's Chemical World.  Don't let that throw you, though.  Ahem.  You know what I mean.  Sometimes programs that come from a faith-based perspective lack a bit in the quality of production and writing, right?  This one doesn't.  The production is high quality and the content is challenging and engaging without being in any way preachy or condescending.  Any reference to God is done so naturally and without feeling forced or overly pious.  The graphics are professional and visually rich.  The writing is not stilted and Wes Anderson, the teacher, is engaging and educated.  I was amazed to realize as the credits were scrolling that the bulk of production is done by their one family!  Wes Olson presents the material, his daughter did the videography and behind the scenes his two sons are responsible for music, and media work.  Isn't that great?  They're like the von Trapps of homeschool science.  I love that and I love that they do it well, you know?

It is marketed as a high school curriculum and definitely contains high school level material.  In fact, it covers way more than I learned in my sophomore high school class.  That said, John Paul is using it at age 9 and loves it.  He really gets it and now knows way more about chemistry than I probably ever will.  John Paul was really itching to learn and I know my own limitations.  I was looking for a program that would teach the fundamentals of chemistry that I could not.  I wanted something that taught  the lesson for me, that presented real chemistry, and that didn't just give instructions for neat-looking experiments.  I wanted something that would really give the foundation.  So many books and programs  marketed to elementary age children contain a lot of visual clutter and commonly done experiments while not really containing any meat explaining how this all actually works.  They aren't going to satisfy a child who is hungry for more understanding who happens to have a mother who can only give a lot of "...umm" and "...err" answers when asked any question that requires a more substantial knowledge of chemistry.  The Chemistry 101 program covers the history of chemistry, important chemists in history, an in-depth look at the periodic table,  compounds and molecules, balancing equations, and a whole lot more.  A full list of the table of contents can be found here.  

It is a bit pricey at $69.95, I admit.  I took a huge chance when buying it (even with being able to snag a rare copy that I found on Ebay that saved me twenty dollars) because I couldn't find anything else that looked even remotely close to what I was looking for.  And I'm so glad I went for it.  In fact, it is well worth paying full price in my opinion.  We'll be able to reuse it for the rest of the boys and loan it out when we're not.  This program has fanned a love for chemistry in John Paul that has been incredible to watch.  The knowledge is even being passed down naturally as Michael and David absorb the enthusiasm.  Talk of atoms and electrons has entered mealtime conversation and John Paul has spent the last few weeks trying to isolate different elements and has been setting up random experiments around the house.  This morning I found this at our kitchen table which isn't even the most impressive of his experimenting but is one that I happened to get a picture of:

And after I made sure that it wasn't going to start a fire or explode anything (Insert dumbfounded look.  "Why would it do that?  It's just electrolysis, Mama."  Right.  Ahem.  Obviously.)  I was so impressed that he would just do that and actually know what he was doing.  Maybe.  Or maybe he is going to burn our house down but at least I would be comforted that it was for educational purposes, right?  Last week he used his own money to buy a helium balloon so he could experiment with that.  I do take pride in the fact that I was able to wildly impress my offspring with the only thing I know that helium can do besides fill balloons and that is create incredibly silly voices.  

The program is based on the DVDs but there are downloadable quizzes and a book on the last disc which we have not yet done.  Right now we are just watching and I am incorporating some writing exercises by requiring that John Paul choose something from each chapter on which to write a brief essay.  I plan to dip into those quizzes soon, though.  The Olson family already has a Biology 101 program which I plan on adding to future plans and I am thrilled that a Physics 101 program is currently in the works.  I'm so grateful that this program has paid off and I hope this little review is helpful to someone.  If you do plan on buying it, please tell them I sent you!

(FYI, I'm not receiving any sort of compensation for this review.  This is just a program that has really blessed us that I thought my readers may want to know about.  Hit me up with any questions but know that my response might contain a few more ums and ers than is at all respectable for a home educating mother.  I'll ask John Paul and get back to you.)

Update:  After researching the Biology 101 program I discovered that it is based on a creationist philosophy which really surprises me and really bums me out.  So we won't be using that program.  I still highly recommend the chemistry, though.


  1. I was just thinking the other day that I need to step it up in the science department. I could (should) enlist my scientist hubby to take over, but I never get around to it. Especially when it comes to chemistry since that's his specialty.

    Anyway, I'll put this on my list of things to get eventually - maybe next year. I've hesitated to buy any Christian science curriculum so far.

    1. On their website it's selling for $69.95....a bit higher than what you said.

    2. Oops. Thank you, just fixed it! IT is definitely a lot, I know!

  2. Sorry for the anonymous post; I couldn't figure out how to sign in. Thanks for your thorough review and follow-up. I agree with everything you said. My 2 high schoolers are using the Chemistry and Biology DVDs and really love them. They do the quizzes, reports and experiments. I learned about them when you posted in August/Sept that you were going to use the Chemistry for your son. I did my research and purchased them from Rainbow Resource for $50 each including shipping, Great purchase! Btw I love your blog-you're a good writer and I often laugh at your humorous posts. Beautiful family photos too! Melanie

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I'm so glad that they're working for your family as well! Great to know about the better deal, too. The price does sound high but if you think of it and use it as an entire high school course, it is actually a great deal!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! Lisa P.


Thank you for visiting and reading! I love hearing from readers so if a comment box on a post is turned off, it's because Blogger is terrible about filtering spam. If you'd like to send me a message, please use my contact page. Thank you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.