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Marine Biology for the Ocean Loving Kid | Review

Apologia Educational Ministries is known for having excellent high school science curriculum, so even though Malachi is only in the 7th grade, he loves marine life and was excited to have the chance to review the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set which is actually geared for high school students who have already completed Biology.


We received the advantage set PLUS the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD which has been the perfect resource for my son.

What's included in the Marine Biology Advantage Set?

  • Textbook 
    • a 557 page hard back, stand alone science text that is full color and beautiful with 14 modules, experiments, study guides, summaries, and more. 
  • Student Notebook 
    • a 505 page soft spiral-bound notebook for students with introductory section on rubrics, grading charts, how to take notes from the text, and a daily schedule. Each module contains module notes (plenty of room to take notes as your student studies, "On Your Own" (OYO) questions,  study guide, and optional summary. The last part of the notebook is the Lab Notebook. Your student could turn to this section to find everything they need to facilitate the experiments from the text. 
  • Tests and Solutions Manual 
    • a 212 page test and solution manual with instructional support, as well as a test booklet that contains just the tests. 

Apologia high school science courses are designed to be used five days a week, for about 45 minutes a day, to complete the course in two semesters, or one school year.

How we used Apologia Marine Biology


Using the audio CD, we listened to the first module while following along with the text. The Student Notebook has a schedule written for you, so we followed the schedule.

Malachi followed along in the book while listening, so he could see the diagrams and pictures. Because he is only in the 7th grade, I did not have him take notes or write in the Student Notebook yet, but he paused the audio when it came to an OYO question, answered the question orally, and then continued listening.


I had him listen at the kitchen table while cooking dinner or around the house so I could listen in too.

Module 1 dives into the oceans of the earth. We learned about the geography of the oceans, the earth's structure, continental drift and plate tectonics, plate interactions, mountain formation, features of the ocean bottom, properties of water, seawater, salinity, temperature, and density, light in the sea, pressure, the motion of the ocean, the Coriolis Effect, waves, tides, and more.

Experiment 1.1 Mountain Formation from Plate Movement

In this first experiment, Malachi learned what happens when a denser plate sinks below one that is less dense. The directions called for sugar and salt, but I didn't want to waste food, so we used white sugar and brown sugar for the layers. It worked just fine, and I saved the sugar for the next time we make chocolate chip cookies. 


Experiment 1.2 Removing the Salt From Salt Water

In this experiment, you make a salt water solution and then take a measured sample to determine the salinity by letting the water evaporate from the sample. In this way, we can also determine the salinity of ocean water - by taking a sample.


For Experiment 1.3 The Effects of Salinity, Temperature, and Density of Water, I had him watch the sample experiment on the instructional DVD course page. These videos are great for visual learners or for those who don't need another lab but want to see the experiments.

I like how each experiment gives a purpose, a list of materials, as well as a question to think about. For example, in Experiment 1.4 The Coriolis Effect, the purpose is to understand the cause of atmospheric winds on the earth. The question asks: Why do winds on the earth move in curved directions? 

So far, the experiments have all been fairly easy using supplies found around the home. The labs do get more sophisticated and require an animal dissection kit, a microscope, and prepared slides as you go, but this would definitely qualify for a lab science.

We are not yet using the Lab Notebook, but if I were, I would pull the lab section out of the notebook and spiral bind it separately for ease of use. The lab section is color coded, so you can easily find it by flipping through the notebook, but I think it would be easier to have it separate.

In Experiment 1.5, you use a short length of wood to make waves in the bathtub to make a cork bob up and down with each crest of a wave to learn that waves carry energy and do not actually transport water. The cork moves up and down with the waves, but only the energy keeps moving.



After he finished reading, he answered the study guide questions, and then I went over his answers with him. He did not do the optional summary.

How'd he do on the first test?

He was a little nervous to take the test. So, I told him to go ahead and do as much as he could, and if he needed to, I would let him use his study notes. He ended up completing the test without the notes, and he got a 93%. He thought that was cool.

While the text includes answers to the OYO questions, you will need the Test and Solutions manual for complete solutions to the study guides, summaries, and module tests.

So far in Module 2, Malachi has learned about life in the sea - the process of life, photosynthesis, respiration, cells, levels of organization, the challenge of life at sea, diffusion and osmosis, temperature, and more.

What does the rest of the book cover?

In Module 3, we will learn about the first four kingdoms - Monera, Protista, Fungi, and Plantae. Modules 4 through 7 cover marine invertebrates and marine vertebrates - this is what Malachi was looking forward to. He didn't mind learning about the oceans and life in general, but what he really wanted was to study the animals in the ocean, so he wished he could have jumped in with these modules first.

Module 8 covers marine ecology, such as the ecosystem, population growth, predator prey relationships, and more to reveal how ocean life impacts other ocean life.

Modules 9 through 14 cover the Intertidal Zone, estuary communities, coral reefs, continental shelf communities, the Epipelagic Zone, and the deep ocean.

Module 15 covers ocean resources and living and non-living, and Module 16 dives into the effects of humans on the sea.

Apologia's Marine Biology text seems to offer a thorough high school program on ocean life.

Here's what I like:

The Textbook

The student text is bright, colorful, and visually appealing. Each module has a "dive in" question to get you thinking about the topics that will be covered. The text is stand alone, colorful and varied with vivid illustrations, colorful figures, diagrams, tables, maps, On Your Own questions, highlighted vocabulary words, "think about this" prompts to get your student thinking, experiments with detailed instructions and explanations, as well as answers to the questions, and a study guide.

In the back of the student text book, you will find a glossary of definitions, as well three appendices. Appendix A contains reference figures and tables, Appendix B contains optional module summaries which are fill--in-the-blank summaries for more practice, and Appendix C where you will find a complete list of lab supplies.

The Audio CD

I was surprised at how much Malachi comprehended and remembered just using the audio CD and the text book, while not taking notes. I think the audio made a big difference. The voice is a pleasant female voice, and it is easy to follow along with the text while listening. Plus, she reads the entire text - even the OYO questions and experiments. Since it is an MP3 audio CD, it will play on your computer or special MP3 CD player only. I simply uploaded it to iTunes on my computer, and then synced it to my iPhone for listening anywhere in the house.

I really like the option of having the text on audio. I started using Apologia's audio CDs years ago with one of my sons who was an audio learner and who didn't like to read - at all. But, he listened to the audio CD on his own, sometimes a whole module in one day, and then he'd come tell me all the interesting things he learned. Often, he would still be telling me things he learned days later. That sold me on them, and I highly recommend the audio CD for students who are audio learners, who don't like to read, or perhaps a student who is young for the course but wants to give it a try, like Malachi.

The Student Notebook

The Student Notebook is designed to facilitate high school level science with plenty of room for formal note taking, room to write answers to the OYO questions, module study guides, and a detailed schedule. The notebooks were not available for my older boys when they used Apologia in high school. I even called Apologia back then to see if they were going to make them available, but they did not have plans to make them because high school students should be able to take notes on their own and complete the work without the use of them. Indeed, the notebook is optional. My boys learned how to study without their hand being held every step of the way. They took notes in a cheap spiral notebook, answered the study guide questions, and wrote their lab reports in their spiral notebook, and they did just fine. However, if they would have had these back then, I would have bought them because they take the busy work out of science and require less writing - something all my boys have disliked. Plus, the schedule is great, and the notebook helps students keep their work neat, organized, and all in one place to help form good study habits.

The Test and Solutions Manual

Everything you need for each module is together and in order - study guide solutions, module summary solutions, the test, and then the answers to the test. I like having a separate test booklet - it is easier to use than photocopying the tests from the manual.

Final Thoughts

As far as the Marine Biology course itself, it is well done and thorough. Malachi talked about the material he was learning outside the course. He asked questions and wanted to talk about things he was learning. He enjoyed the experiments. I like that he was challenged, but I mostly liked that he found the content interesting enough to talk about it. He says it was fun, but challenging. He thinks he's a bit young for it, but he was pretty proud of the fact he scored so well on the first test.

He admits, he wished he could have jumped right in to learn about animals right away, but I assured him that these first couple modules are laying a foundation of understanding to help him better learn about the animals and the ocean they live in, and I don't think he will be disappointed when he gets to them.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

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1 comment

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

ahahahahahaah. I am embarrassed now at my test score. But to give myself credit, I don't remember stuff like that like I used to. And I did it spread out. I also read Module 1 myself without audio. No excuses for my poor score though. Way to go Malachi!

I agree on binding the lab papers separate!

Thanks for sharing a lovely review (as usual).