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Review: Science Roots by Nancy Paula Hasseler

When your teens begin to study biology, they are suddenly faced with an overwhelming amount of vocabulary to learn.  Many modules in our teens’ biology course contain dozens of new words and that is what makes biology so difficult. 

In Science Roots: Latin and Greek Roots for Biology and Life Science, Nancy Hasseler has provided a resource that teaches students 123 scientific Latin and Greek roots, thus unlocking the meaning of many of the new words.  In just a few minutes a day, teens can master their biology vocabulary.  In fact, Dr. Jay Wile, author of Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology, endorses Science Roots calling it “a valuable study tool.”

This nonconsumable book for teens clearly outlines the procedures to be used in studying the Greek and Latin roots.   A student uses information in the book to make a study card, either using a lined index card or purchased partially-completed card.  A finished study card includes the Root Word, its definition, its source language, and a list of Example Words with their definitions.  Since many of the Example Words contain more than one root, the student is constantly reviewing the roots.  

The core of this book is its Main List which includes the roots in the order used by Apologia’s Biology, cross-referenced to that text’s module number.  The Main List also includes the example words and necessary definitions for a student to fill out the cards.

A Glossary lists all of the words and their definitions as well as a Reference Number which links to the Main List.  This Glossary is very handy when a student wants to look up a word or an unfamiliar root, as occasionally happens with the Example Words.  This is also the feature that makes it easy to use Science Roots with any biology text, even though it was designed as a companion to Apologia’s Biology.

Although Science Roots can be used successfully while taking biology, it would be easier to spread the load over two years.   In an appendix, Nancy has divided her Main List into more common roots to be used in the pre-biology year and then more technical roots to be used while a student studies biology.  She has also made a list of biology roots (for those interested only in biology) and general life science roots (for those interested mainly in zoology, medicine, or botany).

Besides all the detailed, carefully cross-referenced information, Science Roots also contains a number of interesting zero-prep games.  Some look appealing enough to be played at a family gathering.

Since most of the work in the course involves writing on index cards, students spend a lot of time writing.  Recognizing that this is not good for all students, Nancy has designed partially-completed index cards that will save students time but not compromise the reinforcement they get from writing out roots and definitions.   These optional, ready-to-cut cards are printed on regular cardstock sheets, and duplication is permitted within a household.

Our Experience With Science Roots

Miss 13 is using Science Roots while studying Apologia’s Biology.  Since she has quite a heavy course load, we both wish she had started the root study last year.  Our younger girls will start a year before they begin biology; in fact, I’ve written myself a reminder inside the front cover of our Physical Science text.

Science Roots is a very thorough and well-organized presentation of a complex subject.  Because it is so detailed, some effort is required to learn how to use it.  The effort is well-spent, though, because the student ends up knowing the roots as well as having a box full of index cards to review in the future.  Nancy’s cross-referencing and indexing is superb, making it easy to find any root or word.

We used the optional partially-completed index cards to save time.  While you do not need to use them—and for some learning styles that might be better—I recommend them for most students.

Miss 13 is frustrated by the fact that not every Example Word is defined in the book.  However, the words Nancy chose not to define are either fairly common or else easy to figure out if you know the roots. 

Some people might want to use Science Roots with younger children, but it would not work with ours.  The study words are not yet relevant to them, and the example words are not yet part of their vocabulary.  If you wish to study Greek and Latin roots with younger children, I would suggest a program developed for elementary children, such as Nancy’s Vocabulary Vine.

If you have students taking biology this year or next, I encourage you to invest in Science Roots.  This course will help your teens succeed at biology and, by increasing their knowledge of roots, it will also enhance their everyday vocabulary.

Science Roots is available from various homeschool suppliers as well as directly from Paula’s Archives.

Disclosure: I received Science Roots from the author, Nancy Hasseler, in order to review it.  As always, I am not compensated for my reviews.


  1. MissMOE says:

    Great review. We used science roots the summer before my daughter took biology, and it helped her immensely to know all that vocabulary going into the course.

  2. melanie says:

    I just complained about the wordiness of learning how to implement Science Roots on WTM forum. I have to use this but was upset until I read this review. It gives me hope that it will be easier than I thought. I wonder if I should leave out the very first word META. I don’t know why it was included if the definition is nothing like the root? Thanks for the review. I will go back and post this where I complained.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      If it helps you to get going on the course, do leave out meta for now. You can always go back and study it later. Although the course seems confusing at first, it makes sense once you have used it for a while.

      I’m glad the review was helpful for you.

      Wishing you lots of successful learning!

      1. KB says:

        Thank you for your comment Melanie as I too was frustrated after attempting META. I will carry on and hope the others make more sense to the kids and myself!

        1. Annie Kate says:

          Hang in there KB. It does get better.

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