A few years ago, in my search for secular science materials for homeschooling, I came across Science Fusion by Holt McDougal. We used these books for 2 years and they were okay. I think they could have been great and I had high hopes for the online interactive parts, but at that point they didn’t work on the iPads (I believe they do now) and the teacher resources were a nightmare to access. To get to the lab activities, I had to click through multiple menus to get to the pdfs, and then go through the whole process again to get to the next lab. They should have had one section called Downloads where you could get all the labs, and not have to hunt them down. We did use the interactive stuff once in a while and they had some nice ones, like measuring the temperature of the atmosphere at different altitudes… something we can’t really do with out a weather balloon. It even walked the students through making the graph, they had to drag points on to the graph, it didn’t make it automatically. Science Fusion also had some video labs, where you would watch a short video of a scientist taking data in the field, like the Everglades for example, then the scientist asked them to analysis the data and make conclusions.
We used Cells and Heredity (A), The Diversity of Living Things (B), The Human Body (C) and Ecology and the Environment (D) all in one year and I have to say the Cells book was my favorite of all the Science Fusion books. The 2nd year we used Matter & Energy (H), Motion, Forces, and Energy (I) and Sound & Light (J), so basically Physics and Chemistry. These again were okay, I didn’t hate them, but they weren’t anything spectacular. My older son was pretty bored with these books – he was 8th grade when we used them and very advanced in science. He was very insulted when the book had pronunciation guides for words like velocity and acceleration.
The textbooks are thin and very colorful and the kids are supposed to write all over them. Like I said, we did 3 or 4 in a year. I did buy the 5th grade Science Fusion text which is a year long course, and much thicker (and more expensive) but it was a joke, it was very general and my then 4th grader didn’t even look at it, he already knew just about everything in it. So unless your kid has NO science experience I wouldn’t bother with the elementary books.
One thing I hadn’t mentioned is that the web access has an online version of textbook that reads the book out loud as you click on things, so if you child has trouble reading, it might be a good choice. I believe you can sign up for a free virtual sample if you want to give it a try. Homeschool Buyers Co-op has a deal, 30% off until August 31st.
In conclusion, if you are looking for some basic science curriculum for middle school and your kid hasn’t done much before, Science Fusion could work for you. They worked for us, but were just a little too easy and not quite enough meat for my older son.