Skip to main content

What to do for Science?

Note: Even if you don't homeschool, the books that I am writing about today are fascinating and fun to read and worth adding to your family library.

We use many books from Sonlight for homeschooling but after a few years of working our way through the Usborne science books we deviated a bit. The kids and I learn by spending a while on a topic and Usborne’s approach is more like watching television with Stuart. He never stays on a channel long enough to bond. The kids and I like bonding so we switched.

I love the Charlotte Mason approach to education. For the uninitiated, this means keeping textbooks and worksheets to a minimum in favor of reading real books and conversing about those books. So when I need to use a textbook, I look for books that have a conversational tone to them. The Young Explorer Series written by Jeannie Fulbright fits the bill. The author writes directly to the child. Each book covers many aspects of a single topic and each book has many easy-to-do experiments that bring the lessons to life. This is a calm, manageable approach to science.

The older kids use the Exploring Creation series by Dr. Jay L. Wile. Both this series and the elementary series are published by his company, Apologia. Dr. Wile’s style of writing also speaks directly to the student. These books are filled with practical experiments just like the elementary books. The main difference is that there is a broader scope of material covered in the high school books.

John, Lauren and I take turns reading science to the younger children and I always read the Exploring Creation book with the oldest two. I learn as much as they do. The neighbors know that we really do school when they see us out in the front yard conducting experiments. Either that or they think we’re crazy. Last week we sent John down to the corner to bang two rocks together over his head to demonstrate how the speed of light travels faster than the speed of sound. Then there was the time that I had to drive by the house blowing the horn so the children could hear the sound of the horn change pitch. Now the whole neighborhood understands the Doppler effect because this experiment required several variations. (Blow the horn while parked, back up while blowing the horn…)

In the series of pictures below, the children are doing an experiment on camoflage from Jeannie Fulbright's Land Animals of the Sixth Day. They had to fill a laundry basket with paper that was the same color as three different colors of M&Ms. Then they had to put an equal number of all the colors of M&Ms that come in a package into the basket. They needed to make a hypothesis about what color M&Ms they would find the most of in a two-minute time frame. It was fun. The kids did the experiment five times. One for each kid. Then they ate a handful of candy. Even more fun, seeing as we don't keep candy in the house.








While the majority of each book covers pure scientific content, the authors are quick to give God credit for life. For example:

The kids performed an experiment to see how solid butter sinks to the bottom when placed in a glass of melted butter and then they saw how ice floats when placed in a glass of water. Here are Mr. Wile's words about why this is so.

“Why the difference? Well, in nearly every substance in the world, the molecules get closer when the substance turns solid and get farther apart as the substance turns into a liquid…For water, however precisely the opposite is true. When water is a solid, its molecules must stay in a rigid arrangement that reduces the strength of its hydrogen bonds. When water is a liquid, however, its molecules are free to move close enough together to hydrogen bond strongly. As a result, water molecules are closer together when water is a liquid compared to when water is a solid.

So, unlike almost any other substance in Creation, when water is a solid its molecules are actually farther apart than when it is a liquid. As a result, solid water (ice) floats in liquid water. Once again, we are quite “lucky” that this is the case. After all, what happens to lakes in the winter? They freeze don’t they? Does all of the water in the lake freeze? Of course not. If that were the case, then all living things in that lake would die. As a layer of ice builds up on top of the lake, it insulates the water below, and at some point, no more water will freeze! Because of this, the living organisms in the lake survive the winter. Think about all of the food that we get from lakes or from other creatures that depend on the living organisms in a lake. Without water’s unique property, lakes could not support life, and most likely, we would not be able to survive! This is more striking evidence for the awesomeness of our Creator!” (
Exploring Creation with Physical Science, p.96-97)

Both the Young Explorer Series and the Exploring Creation books present God as the creator and sustainer of life. Jay Wile is in fact a creation scientist with a PhD in nuclear science. We went to the Creation Museum in Kentucky a few months ago and I felt that it fell short because while it gives clearly sends the message that God created the earth, it doesn’t do a good job of telling how. I hate books and media that just get stuck on that simple message. You don’t need to check your brains at the door to believe in creation science as both Jeannie Fulbright and Jay Wile adequately illustrate. The Apologia authors go to great pains to present all sides of scientific arguments. They do not keep you in the dark about where they personally stand on any controversial issue either. I think this allows my children the opportunity to wrestle with what they believe for themselves. It's exactly what I want from a science program.

Comments

Christy said…
That's great to hear! So far we've just done some science kits like "Fizzy Foamy Science" but when we do move towards more formal science Apologia was at the top of my list!
Sarah Markley said…
I've just been reading all of your posts for the past week or so...i love your "green" post and your fairy snacks - we need to try that. =)

Popular posts from this blog

Spelling Wisdom

One day while skipping around the internet, I came across these:




And when I clicked on the sample, I knew we had to change spelling curriculums. Again. Goodbye Spelling Power and MacMillan and Sequential Spelling! We've found our true love.

The problem with the afore mentioned curricula is sheer boredom. Memorizing lists of words is mind numbing and as my children don't like their school work to lull them to sleep, they often push spelling to the side in favor of more exciting lessons.

When I found Spelling Wisdom, I realized what has been missing: an idea, something to engage the mind so that learning the difference between than and then occurs almost incidentally.

Sandra Shaffer uses the writings of famous men and women (Helen Keller, Beethoven, Winston Churchill...), Bible passages and quotes from quality literature...poems and novels (Robinson Crusoe, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, All the World's a Stage...) to teach more than six thousand frequently used word…

Rain

My sister-in-law lugs a heavy bucket of water around her herb garden, gives each plant a long sip. "It's been three weeks since we've had rain," she sighs looking out over the dusty vegetable garden and the shriveled brown grass in the pasture beyond. We help my brother pick beans and pull the weeds around them. The dry ground pulls back and some of the weeds snap off above the roots. We give up in the strawberry plants, sit on the porch, listen to the dogs pant.

We travel home in an air conditioned bubble. The whole length of the Shenandoah valley is crispy brown, the corn stunted. We pull into our Amish county driveway, greener here but the grass is short and the air hot. We breathe shallow breaths, unpack, crank the air conditioning. No rain in the forecast, three weeks and counting.

Saturday there will be a wedding, an outdoor wedding, and finally rain threatens. Stuart is on the phone with the bride. "Pray that the rain holds off," she says. Saturday w…

Until Death...

Kindred spirits, Anne would call them.  Two who complete each other, two who are better...best together,  soul mates one cannot imagine apart.  I can count the kindred marriages I know on a couple of fingers and after last week, that count is down by one.

"You look so happy," Dave says as Stuart and I stand awkward and wordless before him.  I bend down to wrap my arms around him and wonder, Where is the good in this?  Where? A week before we bumped into Dave and his wife, Deb, down at the Famous Brands.  Deb glowed with good health and good news and for the remainder of the day we basked in the unexpected good fortune of meeting these old friends.  And now there is Dave minus Deb.  How can this be?
"It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live."  Mark Twain's Own Autobiography
"You look so happy." We do not look happy but somehow this remark makes sense because Dave has loved with …