Science in the Age of Reason is the fourth book in a hands-on, multilevel elementary science series that introduces scientific concepts using history as its guide. It covers the scientific works of natural philosophers from the early 1600s to the early 1800s.
How it Works:
The student book contains 90 lessons divided into six sections—Science in Early 18th Century; Science in the Middle of the 18th Century; Science in the Mid-to-Late 18th Century; Science in the Late 18th Century; Science at the end of the 18th Century; and Science at the turn of the 19th Century. 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 the 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 teenaged 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 theHelps and Hints for Science in the Ancient World.
Helps and Hints for Science in the Age of Reason is a slim volume for parents/teachers that includes 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.
Age of Reason opens with Edmond Halley and Halley's comet and closes with Luigi Brugnatelli and electroplating.
Our Honest Opinion
Deism was beginning to creep up in the early 18th century, and so Wile explains what it is and who the deists were. This means he is much less in-your-face about the motivations of the natural philosophers, though as always he is balanced and fair when explaining it.
Some of Wile's wishy-washiness on origins reappears briefly during a discussion on Gauss and magnetism, but it's a minor incident, and it doesn't detract from the otherwise excellent book.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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