Are you scared to teach science? Saying "yes" doesn't mean you're incompetent—just that you're one of many whose strengths happen to lie elsewhere, and who worry your students will ask questions about ions or thermodynamics that you can't answer. While most science programs include some form of teacher support, it's usually limited to what the students need to know, which is unhelpful if you aren't already a science whiz yourself.
John D. Mays's Science for Every Teacher series is meant to fill this gap. Volume 1: Physics is the first of a projected 4-volume set designed to shore up the science knowledge of K-8 teachers, whether their classrooms are in public, Christian, or home schools. Mays is a Christian, but these books are more religion-neutral than his Novare textbooks, in order to reach a wider audience.
Science for Every Teacher Volume 1: Physics is not a how-to-teach manual. But it's not just a textbook for adults, either. Instead, it's an engaging narrative about the nature of science and the scientific method, and the history and science behind the study of physics, complete with lots of color illustrations, examples, and graphs. You don't need to worry about exercises or experiments—the purpose of this book is simply to give teachers a thorough grounding in physics so that they can teach their students with more confidence and ease.
Chapters are simple, with a list of important concepts and a brief summary appearing at the beginning of each, and ideas for potential classroom activities at the end. Mays encourages teachers to read the book for enjoyment, end to end, the way you'd read a novel or a good biography. This shouldn't be too hard for anyone—Mays makes science fascinating and memorable through well-crafted prose and a gift for simple explanations. He also presents physics independently of math as much as he is able; for those who want equations or proofs, however, there are box inserts wherever applicable.
This doesn't mean Mays merely scratches the surface, though. He reminds readers that there's much more here than any elementary science class would ever entail, but that the extra information is present because teachers need to know more than their students if they expect to teach successfully. So you don't have to worry about calculus and trigonometry, but you will have to struggle through the basic laws and propositions of physics, albeit made more understandable by Mays's clear presentations.
While the purpose of Science for Every Teacher is to help teachers understand science to enable them to teach it competently, it's likely that a read through this book will accomplish even more—igniting an interest in and even love of science where none previously existed. The title may give the impression that this is just another one of those boring books that uses cheap gimmicks to try to hold your interest; it's not. This is a good book in its own right, an excellent introduction to physics, and an indispensable addition to the arsenal of any educator. If you have motivated middle school students, you may even consider just having them read this in lieu of a more structured curriculum.
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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