More than any other science curriculum, it's difficult to describe Christian Libertyscience as a complete entity. The first four books cover grades K-3, Biology is a high school text, and Lift Up Your Eyes On High is an astronomy/mazzaroth text for high schoolers and adults. (Mazzaroth is the study of the stars in relation to biblical prophecy; while it does deal with zodiacal concerns, it is Christian rather than astrological in nature.) Besides their own curriculum, CLP offers teacher's manuals/answer keys to A Beka science texts.
This is another definitely Christian curriculum. In fact, the K-3 books almost seem more like Bible study than science curriculum in some ways. While they do introduce kids to certain (very) basic ideas, they spend so much time focusing on God's creation of the universe that details about that universe are somewhat neglected. Not that we think this shouldn't be stressed, but much of the material seems more appropriate for Bible class than science. This is less true for the Biology and astronomy texts, though there are still plenty of creation references.
How Do These Work?
The K-3 books are pretty straightforward. Each is a softcover worktext, colorfully illustrated and simply written. An accompanying teacher's manual offers answers and limited teacher help, while a test packet offers tests with answers, to be administered periodically. (The third grade book is an older edition—a lot less color, fewer photographs—but with a new cover.) Experiments and hands-on activities are included in each book, and for the most part you should have everything you need to do them around the house. Books are intended for one year's worth of work, though most parents seem not to be able to stretch the material that long.
The student books are low in content. There isn't much text, and what there is often isn't specifically scientific in nature. The teacher's manuals don't do a whole lot to fill the void, either. They provide some extra suggestions for lesson plans and answers to all the questions/problems, but not much else. The idea is that students should be familiarized with science in general before pursuing it in a more systematic manner.
For grades 4-9, CLP recommends using A Beka science with their own answer keys and tests. (A Beka's books are decent, but we typically recommend switching instead to the AIG God's Design series or Apologia's Young Explorer Series.) For tenth grade (after Biology) they suggest using BJU's Chemistry.
Biology is more thorough. Intended for high schoolers, creationist references are subtly integrated with science facts. The teacher's manual, again, isn't much more than an answer key, but the student text (hardcover, full-color) is comprehensive enough that the motivated student will get by well enough on his own. There is a companion lab manual (with teacher's guide) to assist students during lab activities. The student text is composed of text, pictures, and questions, with experiments outlined in the lab manual. There are ten units with a total of 29 chapters, making it just the right size for a typical school year.
Lift Up Your Eyes On High is a different animal altogether. Touted as a high school elective, it is written at a far higher level than the Biology text. The book itself takes a non-traditional approach to astronomy. Instead of just dumping a lot of "star facts" on students, it attempts to integrate study of the heavens with biblical and Christian ideas. For instance, author James Nickel (who also wrote Mathematics: Is God Silent?) talks about the theological as well as the scientific importance of the earth's placement in the solar system, and attempts to provide a scientific precedent for the star that led the magi to Jesus.
This volume is considerably more advanced than most high school level astronomy texts. While not as long (or as colorful), Lift Up Your Eyes On High is far more technical and mathematically-oriented. The information is fascinating, but may be over the head of many high schoolers, even twelfth graders. A teacher's guide/answer key is available.
Our Honest Opinion:
If you think it's important that your younger children study science, the K-2 books are a suitably gentle place to start. Some parents who generally like CLP's curriculum don't like their science because it lacks content, but how much can you really expect five-year-olds to get out of a discussion of molecules and atoms? What we really like about these is that they are organized in units based on the creation week, they are visually engaging, and they aren't overwhelming. They are very much like the A Beka science books for K-2nd, but at a slightly higher reading level. The third grade book, though not as visually attractive, tends to be popular because of the experiments contained.
The Biology text raises more concerns. While the technical terminology and many of the concepts dealt with give the impression of a solid course, some of the feedback we've gotten (we've not had much) suggests there's not a whole lot of in-depth content here, either. While a surface-level brushing of topics is okay for very young students, it's less than acceptable for high school students. Lift Up Your Eyes (though a cool idea) suffers from almost the reverse problem—it is more in-depth than many students are ready for. We would definitely not recommend this for indifferent students—though it would be a great introductory course for enthusiastic teens and adults.
Most young children aren't ready for science on a technical level, so the four introductory books in this series could be good introductions to the discipline. However, the lack of a real 4th-9th grade text and the nature of the upper level courses lead us to advise switching to a different program after third grade. CLP science isn't the worst science out there, but it isn't the best, either.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes 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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