UPDATE: A new middle school volume, called Science in the Atomic Age, is due to be released summer 2020! Click here to see Dr. Wile's original blog post about it, and more details to come!
Jay Wile is renowned for making science not only understandable but fun for students of all ages (including their parents!). His science textbooks published by Apologia Press are modern classics of Christian science instruction that neither kowtow to secular worldviews nor come across as dogmatic in terms of the biblical account of creation.
This elementary series, written by him, teaches science in the context of history, presenting major scientific themes in the order they were discovered. The approach is similar to that of his earlier volume for 7th graders, Exploring Creation with General Science from Apologia Educational Ministries, teaching science basics as a foundation for further study.
As of June 2017, all five elementary books are available, with titles including Science in the Beginning, Science in the Ancient World, Science in the Scientific Revolution, Science in the Age of Reason and Science in the Industrial Age. By the end of the last book, students will be ready for middle school science.
How Do These Work?
The student books contain 90 lessons divided into six sections. Each section contains 15 lessons, each with about 3 pages of reading, and each centered around a hands-on activity or experiment. Twelve of these lessons are standard lessons, and three are challenge lessons for students who can't get enough. The challenge lessons include no content that is discussed in the standard lessons.
Wile suggests you do one lesson every other day, allowing you to complete the text in one normal 180-day school year. If your kids aren't super eager for science, you can also complete two lessons a week and leave out the challenge lessons, which will also get you done in one school year. Those who want a book to last longer than a year will have to shape their own schedule.
Every lesson includes a hands-on activity or experiment that illuminates the major point of the lesson. These all involve common household items, though things some families might not have around the house are listed first to give parents time to procure them. A master list for each 15-lesson unit includes all the items needed. Wile stresses that adult supervision is necessary for all of these activities, both to ensure proper execution, and for safety (some experiments require blades, flames, etc.).
Parents or your teenage kids should read the lesson to your elementary students, and parents should oversee the completion of each activity. There are age or ability appropriate review assignments at the end of each lesson: youngest kids answer a couple questions orally; older kids write some basic information in a notebook; and oldest kids complete a more elaborate notebook assignment. There are also optional tests for oldest students included in the Helps and Hints books.
Helps and Hints are slim volumes for parents/teachers that include notes and tips for teaching and grading. There are also tests with answers, but Wile seems to think it preferable to leave these alone unless your elementary students are on the cusp of moving to junior high and need to learn how to take science tests. A brief appendix includes some reproducible pages for student work and review.
Students will learn about everything from math and geometry, to music theory, to human anatomy and physiology, to physics, to technology, to biology, and much more. Where subsequent scientific investigation has proved these early scientists' conclusions to be true, Wile points that out; he also shows where scientific study has disproved their claims.
Wile also goes out of his way to demonstrate the Christian origins of most science after the incarnation of Christ. The current scientific community would largely have us believe that science arises from autonomous human endeavor and observation, but Wile shows that much science was actually the result of Christian men desiring to better understand the creation of God.
Our Honest Opinion:
Between the enjoyable and instructive hands-on investigations, the many full-color illustrations, photographs, and reproductions of famous artworks, and the highly readable and engaging text, this is a very accessible entry point into scientific study for young students. Jay Wile knows science, he knows how to make it interesting, and he ably demonstrates that here.
Overall, this is an excellent starting place for scientific study. Parents can be sure that their students will be well prepared for further study, and because there's a strong historical element here many students not ordinarily interested in science will be drawn into the narrative of its origins and development. While we hold some exceptions to Wile's theology and apologetics (see our review of Science in the Beginning for more details), we still highly recommend this series.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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