What is it?
Science in the Beginning is the first book in a new series of science texts for elementary students from Dr. Jay L. Wile. The series will examine science through a historical perspective. This first book takes the student through each day of Biblical creation and examines the science concepts that can be learned from each day.
The name of the company, Berean Builders Publishing, is taken from the verse Acts 17:11. In this passage, Luke writes about the believers in Berea who were eager to receive the Gospel message and daily examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. The purpose of the curriculum from Berean Builders is to teach students to think critically and examine Scripture as they learn, just as the Berean citizens did.
There will be more books in the series:
- Science in the Ancient World – This book will cover scientific discoveries from the time of Thales to daVinci.
- Science in the 16th and 17th Centuries – This book will cover events from the Scientific Revolution and Copernicus to the work of Vesalius.
- Science in the 18th Century
- Science in the 19th Century
The books will focus on the individual scientists, their discoveries, and how their discoveries impacted the scientific community as a whole.
Here are some sample lessons from the first book to try out this new curriculum.
The curriculum consists of one hardback text with a soft cover Helps and Hints book that retails for $39 for both books together.
A few more details….
The text has 15 lessons for each day of creation, which makes a total of 90 lessons. The first 12 lessons of each creation day are regular lessons, with the last 3 being challenge lessons. The challenge lessons are for students who want to go more in depth on the subject.
To complete the book in one school year, you can choose to do science twice a week, skipping the challenge lessons and finishing the book in a typical school year. Or, you can choose to do science every other day and include the challenge lessons and still finish the book within a typical school year.
Each lesson is 3 pages. There is one experiment or demonstration for each lesson (and sometimes more for some lessons). Many of the lessons begin with the demonstration to illustrate the topic. The text of the lesson contains clear and concise explanations of the topic with important vocabulary words in bold face.
At the end of each daily lesson, there is a review section. This section contains review questions for 3 age groups. The parent can read through the review questions and decide on the level that best suits her student. The questions for the youngest students are simple short answer questions that can be answered orally or written in a notebook. The next level contains instructions for a writing an explanation of a more detailed question. The oldest section has more in-depth writing required and often has the student making predictions or thinking critically about the lesson or the experiment.
The first section of the text contains a supply list for each day of creation. And the back of the book contains a glossary of vocabulary terms as well as an index of topics.
The Helps and Hints book is for the parent. The first section of the book contains all the answers and explanations for each review section. The last part of the book contains tests for the text, with two tests for each day of creation. Each test covers 6 lessons. Answers to the tests are included.
This science series is geared for students in any elementary grade and can be used as a multi-grade curriculum with each student answering the review questions at his or her level.
How did we use it?
I chose to do 2 science lessons per week and skip the challenge lessons for now. As my children are older and we cycle back through the series, I’ll have my older children complete the challenge lessons. So, I decided to save those for later!
I used this curriculum only with Curly (2nd grade). We did our experiments together – usually with Tiger and Bee looking on and wondering what we were doing. Then I read the text to Curly (although she could have read much of it herself). While I read she illustrated a picture of the lesson topic or of the experiment we performed. We discussed the concepts as we read together. At the end of our lesson I asked her the questions for the youngest students. I helped her phrase her responses in complete sentences and then I wrote them down at the bottom of her illustrated page as the narration to our lesson. Then I put the pages in her notebook. By the end of our science study she will have created her very own illustrated notebook of science topics. I didn’t give Curly the tests but I did pull a few questions from them as an oral review once we had finished each section of 6 lessons.
Here’s what a lesson looked like at our house:
I reviewed the Law of Energy Conservation with her. Then we read about batteries. The experiment was to test the brightness of a flashlight with two batteries and then remove one battery, replacing it with a wad of aluminum foil, and testing the brightness of the beam with only 1 battery. Curly was surprised to see the difference in the beam.
We then discussed how energy is converted into radiant energy and the flashlight with one battery had less energy to convert, making the light dimmer. Curly learned how batteries work – they convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy, creating electricity and powering flashlights and other battery operated things.
We then discussed what happens when batteries run out of chemical energy and how rechargeable batteries work.
At the end of the lesson I asked her these questions:
What form of energy does a battery actually store?
Why does a battery go dead after it has been used a while?
Older students were to write in a notebook what energy conversions take place for a toy car to move. Oldest students were to do the previous writing assignment as well as what would happen if the batteries in the toy car go dead and you only replace two of the batteries, leaving one dead battery in the car. Then the student is to write about what would happen if he replaced only one of the dead batteries with a new one, leaving two dead batteries in the car.
What did we think?
I am not a science person. I will just be honest with that one! I would rather not do science and I do NOT enjoy science experiments. Usually they consist of me gathering tons of supplies, setting them up, performing the experiment, (or watching the experiment fail), and then cleaning up the mess. During this time my kids become bored and ask me when I’ll be done. What is wrong with this picture? I’m the one doing all their work! They should be the ones participating in science experiments, but because they are young and many experiments have multiple steps, they have to watch from the sidelines. So, I’m always skeptical of science curricula. I have great intentions, but many of them are rarely used at my house.
However, I’m happy to report that this curriculum was different. This has been a success at our house! Here’s why our science skeptical family enjoys this curriculum:
The text is written from a Christian perspective. I love that I can teach my kids Biblical truths through science lessons and that the lessons align with our beliefs. This is an important aspect of science for our family!
The lessons are concise and clear but very indepth. Sound like a contradiction? Not really….the lessons are written in a way that students of any age can follow along and can understand the majority of the concept being presented. At only 7 years old, Curly was able to understand almost all the details of the various topics. There was a lot of meat to the lessons but they were not wordy and long, so she got the facts she needed to understand the concept without being lost in wordy explanations or details.
The demonstrations and experiments are invaluable to understanding the topic. I loved how the experiments were often done at the beginning of the lesson. Then the concept was explained in the text. So, you learned by doing and then reading the explanation for what happened in the experiment. This made the concepts very memorable for Curly.
The experiments are simple. They really are! Some seemed so very simple that I was wondering what we would be learning. But I was always pleased with how the text pulled everything together and added depth to our learning. And because the experiments were often very simple to perform – Curly was able to do them all by herself! She didn’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch me do her science lessons. She could fully participate and she was thrilled that the lessons were so hands on for her!
The lessons use easy to obtain materials. I needed a flashlight, aluminum foil, a CD, a candle, a mirror, a trashbag, and construction paper for some of the lessons. I had nearly every supply already in my home or they could be found at my nearby store.
Ohh and the book comes with the ability to log into a website where you can ask questions of Dr. Wile. He will respond and help you with your science questions and experiments. And you can also search the site for previously asked questions and his answers. This is a wonderful resource for the parent who is not a science person. I already have a few questions that I will need to ask about some upcoming lessons – with our food allergies I will have to make a few experiment supply substitutions so I’ll be contacting Dr. Wile to discuss our options.
Our wrap up!
At our house, history is a favorite subject. We spend much of our time reading and reading and reading about historical topics. Science often gets overlooked in favor of other subjects. I’m trying to change that though! And I think I’ve found our answer. Here is a series that covers science from a historical perspective with a Biblical focus. The experiments are doable, memorable, and can be student-performed. The text is colorful, clear, and has excellent experiment instructions. The review section lends itself well to notebooking which is our preferred method of learning. And the tests will be a wonderful assessment as Curly is a little older and is ready for more of a challenge. I will also be able to use this curriculum with all of my children, covering the same topic together as they each complete assignments at their own levels. And we get to study multiple science topics each year as we progress through history. I can even line up the curriculum with our history studies!
I am so excited! I loved this book, the layout, and the information presented in it. I enjoyed the experiments. And I’m fairly certain that I learned even more than Curly did as we worked through the book together. I cannot wait for the next books in the series and to learn about the scientists through history. I’m going to admit right now that I’ve never heard of Thales so I can’t wait to start on the next book in the series. In the meantime, I’ll have to do a little research…..
You can follow Dr. Wile’s blog for more information about teaching science and for updates on the release of the next books.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this curriculum in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.