Notebooks have been released for the elementary books. We could offer them, but Berean Builders requires orders of 10, so we'll hold off unless we have known demand. They are available to print for free (links included in listings); please let us know if you would like us to carry them!
Jay Wile is known for making science understandable and fun for students of all ages (including their parents!). His science textbooks previously published by Apologia Press are modern classics of Christian instruction in science that do not kowtow to secular worldviews, nor are they dogmatic regarding the biblical account of creation.
His new series, Berean Builders Science, 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, teaching science basics as a foundation for further study.
There are five elementary books: 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 are ready for middle school science.
There are two middle school books: Science in the Atomic Age completes the historical study of the elementary books (replacing Wile's now out-of-print Exploring Creation with General Science 2nd Edition), while Discovering Design with Earth Science is a new approach for Dr. Wile (this title replaces his Exploring Creation with Physical Science 2nd Edition).
For high school, we're told a biology text is in the works! For now, Discovering Design with Chemistry replaces Wile's Exploring Creation with Chemistry 2nd edition, and still leads well into Apologia's Advanced Chemistry in Creation.
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 built around a hands-on activity or experiment. Twelve of the lessons are standard lessons, and three are challenge lessons for students who can't get enough. The challenge lessons include no content discussed in the standard lessons.
Wile suggests you complete one lesson every other day to complete the text in a normal 180-day school year. If your kids aren't eager for science, you can 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 create their own schedule.
Every lesson includes a hands-on activity or experiment that illustrates the lesson theme. Experiments 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 items needed. Wile stresses that adult supervision is necessary for every activity, both to ensure proper execution, and for safety (some experiments require blades, flames, etc.).
Parents or teenage students should read the lesson to elementary students; parents should oversee completion of each activity. There are age or ability appropriate review assignments at the end of each lesson: youngest kids answer a couple of questions orally; older kids write 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. There are separate student notebooks for younger students and older students so you can use the books with various elementary grade levels.
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 just about everything, including math, geometry, music theory, human anatomy, physiology, physics, technology, 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.
Middle & High School
There is one book that is designed specifically for use in seventh grade: Science in the Atomic Age. This completes the survey of the history of science begun in the elementary grade books (volumes 1-5 in the series) by looking at the modern era, and provides the gateway for the more topic-specific books for older grade levels. Science in the Atomic Age is very similar to Wile's previous text, Exploring Creation with General Science 2nd Edition, but every branch of scientific inquiry is related to atomic theory. Like the older book, it also spends the most time of any book in the series looking at evidence and support for creationism.
Discovering Design with Earth Science and Discovering Design with Chemistry (more titles coming) move away from the historic survey approach, and instead focus on particular scientific branches of study. These are much more challenging than the earlier levels, and will take a fair amount of effort on the part of students. This is a good thing. Science is a demanding field, and students will only benefit from a thorough grounding in its principles, whether they intend to become professional scientists or not—scientific inquiry and study greatly helps with the development of critical thinking skills.
The middle and high school student levels feature a hardcover student text, softcover test and solutions manual, and an optional spiral-bound consumable student notebook. The student notebook itself is not optional, but it can be downloaded for free from the Berean Builders website; it includes several questions for students to answer, and blank pages for recording lab/experiment observations.
The books are not divided into specific lessons, but rather are divided into chapters with subsections based on activities. There is no clear cut instruction as to how much to read per day, or how long a chapter should take. The books are designed for use throughout one normal school year. The student notebooks offer some idea as to how much to read/how many activities to complete per day, but even these are not explicit. We'd recommend reading up to an activity, completing the activity, then calling it a day.
It's important to note that experiments in the older levels often require special items and materials. This is especially true for Discovering Design with Chemistry, which requires lab equipment like beakers and test tubes, as well as chemical elements. The level of instruction goes up considerably at seventh grade; that's not to suggest the elementary texts are insufficient, just that much more is required of students as they progress in the series.
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.
Wile 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.
The Berean Builders Science series is best pursued in order—students who start with Science in the Atomic Age will miss much of the historical context for the study and current state of scientific study. However, it is not necessary to complete the elementary volumes before the seventh grade text. It is, however, highly recommended that you complete the seventh grade text before moving on to the other middle and high school level texts.
Those who were fans of Apologia's Exploring Creation series as originally authored by Dr. Wile should seriously consider using Berean Builders Science. These are much more in line with the original series than the current iterations of the Apologia books, whether for elementary or older students. Understand that these are not easy, but the effort is well worth it.
This is an excellent starting place for scientific study. Parents can be sure their students will be well prepared for further study. Because there's a strong historical element, many students not ordinarily interested in science will be drawn into the narrative of its origins and development. While the owner of Exodus Books holds some exceptions to Wile's theology and apologetics (see our review of Science in the Beginning for 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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