There was a time when scientists, living and working in the context of Western Christendom, shared a worldview that embraced the reality of both the supernatural and the natural realms. In fact, it was the belief in the supernatural order that provided the basis for exploring the natural world, because as God's creation the world was meant to be studied, explored, and enjoyed.
When society began moving toward first a dichotomy and then a full break between those two realms, scientists began spending a lot more of their time trying to figure out where humans might have come from, how species evolved, and similar questions that aren't technically answerable through application of the scientific method because they stem from philosophic presuppositions.
Since that break, the response of Christians has often been to spend their time engaging in so-called "creation science," or just to ignore science altogether. The idea seems to be that science has been innately tainted by its vocal pagan proponents, and the only way to rescue science is to scrub it clean or run away.
Fortunately for those who believe God's world is still God's world and should still be observed and studied, Durell C. Dobbins has written a science text that accepts the biblical truth that God created the world, but actually guides students through real scientific study and not merely reiteration of the Christian worldview (as important as instilling that worldview is).
How Does This Work?
The Rainbow is a two-year science curriculum for grades 7-9. There is a single student text, a Teacher's Helper book, two Home Laboratory books (one for each year), and two sets of lab supplies (again, one set for each year). There are also a scope and sequence, quizzes and quiz answer keys, and errata corrections on the Beginnings Publishing website.
This course comes between two others:The Colors which is an elementary science program, andThe Spectrum for senior high students. As an introduction to more rigorous study, The Rainbow covers physics, chemistry, biology, and applications in that order, as Dobbins asserts that this is the logical progression in order to fully understand each area of study.
He links major sections with appropriate sub-disciplines. For example, phyics and chemistry are joined by lessons on physical chemistry; chemistry and biology are joined by lessons on chemical biology; etc. (Thus the nameThe Rainbow, because Dobbins sees his approach to instruction as a spectrum.)
Unlike many science programs that claim the same thing,The Rainbow truly engages a variety of learning styles. Students work independently (even when doing the labs), reading lessons in their textbook, completing in-text written exercises, performing lab demonstrations, and recording their findings from their hands-on work.
Dobbins is careful to point out that students won't be doing experiments as such. The frequent lab demonstrations are just that—hands-on activities to show in action principles students have learned from their reading. Experiments are ways to test theories using the scientific method; the lab work here was developed by the author to have a specific outcome. Absolutely everything kids will need to complete each lab assignment is included in the two lab sets with the exception of a gallon of water.
The student lab books contain diagrams, clear descriptions and instructions, questions for students to answer, and guides for making observations. The Teacher's Helper book contains answers for both textbook and lab exercises, as well as teaching helps for both lessons and labs.
The student textbook is truly unique. It is legitimately readable, filled with very helpful diagrams, illustrations, and photographs, andactually teaches science. This isn't to say that he ignores the origins debates, but he spends a very limited amount of time on them and only addresses them in their place (specifically, the biology section).
Instead of worldview, Dobbins teaches science. (He is a creationist and a Christian, but he's a scientist with a Ph.D. by trade.) And he does so in a way that will engage junior high students, making them want to learn more because they'll actually understand what they're learning about. This textbook will quite possibly even make you, the teacher, more interested in science than you ever have been.
Because Dobbins is the father of five homeschooled students, he understands the differing needs of many homeschool families, and has consequently madeThe Rainbow very flexible. Students work for a half hour to an hour three days a week, teachers have no prep time, and there's enough work for 32 weeks each for two years leaving you 4 weeks of a normal schoolyear to take a break as needed.
Our Honest Opinion
This is frankly one of the best science programs we've seen. It's easy to use, clear and in-depth, fun for students, headache-free for parents, and focused on hard science. Because Dobbins is a Christian and doesn't buy everything the humanist-scientist industrial complex sends down the pipeline you don't have to worry about what your students are ingesting, but you can still be sure they're getting real science and not some kind of pseudo-science worldview-oriented substitute.
Dobbins's attention to lab demonstrations means that students with attention, focus, or learning difficulties will be much more likely drawn in to the course and able to learn. The student text is highly readable and fun, and Dobbins (somewhat shockingly for a scientist) is a gifted communicator. The text is never dry or dull, and is packed with beautiful photographs, helpful diagrams, and other illustrations, all of them thoroughly explained in captions.
It's hard to imagine a better pre-high school science program for Christian homeschool families, and as a result it's difficult not to openly sing its praises from the tops of every building in Cyberland. Which we probably will do every chance we get. One of the best things about it is that, no matter how much science your kids have had previously, they can complete this course without difficulty and be ready to move on to almost any senior high science course. Highly recommended.
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.
Lab Manuals May be Written in and priced down accordingly.
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