My New Elementary Science Series

I swore I would never do it. I would never write an elementary science course. After all, I have no experience with the age group. We adopted our only daughter when she was in her teens. I have taught at the university level and the high school level, but never at the elementary level. I simply couldn’t imagine any scenario in which I would write an elementary science series.

Well, God clearly has a sense of humor, because over the past three years, I have been doing just that! It wasn’t my idea. Honestly. When I left my previous position three years ago, I tried to write a math program. I worked hard on it for about two months, and when I looked at it critically, I realized that it just wasn’t very good. I showed it to a math teacher I respect and admire, and he quickly agreed!

As I prayed about what I should be doing, a conversation I had with a brother in Christ kept coming back to my mind. He suggested that I should write an elementary science course that used the days of creation as detailed in Genesis to introduce scientific concepts. The more I prayed about it, the more comfortable I became with the idea, so I started writing a course I originally called Science in the Creation Week, a title my lovely and patient wife never liked.

I decided to change the title of the course when I started seriously praying about what the rest of the series would cover. It seemed to me that the Lord was leading me to write a series that introduced scientific concepts in historical context. Since the creation account in Genesis is the beginning of history, it made sense to call the course Science in the Beginning. Now that I have spent three years writing, I can present an overall plan for the series.

Science in the Beginning, which is now available in all countries, is the first book in the series. As discussed, it presents science in the setting of the days of creation. There are 15 lessons for each creation day, and the lessons focus on what was created on that day. The first 15 lessons, for example, are about light. The next 15 lessons are about air and water. The next 15 lessons are about dry land and plants. You get the idea.

Even though there are 15 lessons for each creative day, you don’t need to do them all. There are three “challenge lessons” that you can skip or complete, depending on your schedule. If you want to finish the entire book in a year, you will need to do science every other day to cover all the lessons. However, if you skip the challenge lessons, you will only need to do science twice a week.

Every lesson has an experiment or a hands-on activity. Don’t worry! The experiments are not complicated, and they don’t require any special equipment. They use simple, household items to demonstrate remarkable scientific truths, and they work for most families. The course was field-tested by homeschoolers in order to ensure this. If an experiment needs a special condition (like a sunny day) or needs to sit for an extended amount of time, you are warned ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

The course is truly multigrade. Every lesson has three levels of review, and you can choose the level that best fits each individual student. The youngest students just orally answer two questions to review the lesson. The older students have a simple notebooking assignment, and the oldest students have a more detailed notebooking assignment. There are tests (and answers) for the course, but I don’t think they are necessary. In fact, I really recommend that you don’t use them. However, if you think they are necessary, the tests and their answers are included in the Helps and Hints book that accompanies the student text. You will also find the answers to the review exercises there, as well as a few helpful hints.

Each book in the series will be structured in the same way, so the only thing that changes with each book is the content. The second book in the series is called Science in the Ancient World, and it covers the science that was discovered from the time of Thales (a Greek philosopher who lived around 600 BC) to the time of Leonardo da Vinci (who lived from AD 1452 to 1519). Rather than spending a lot of time on the history, however, it focuses on the individuals. The student learns about the people and what they discovered, as well as how those discoveries helped us understand God’s creation.

The next book in the series is called Science in the 16th and 17th Centuries The Scientific Revolution. It starts with the Scientific Revolution, which began with the publication of Copernicus’s heliocentric theory of the universe and Vesalius’s foundational work on human anatomy. Lord willing, it will be followed by two more books (I think) – Science in the 18th Century and Science in the 19th Century. After that, the student should be incredibly well prepared for junior high school science.

I strongly recommend that the parent covers the courses in chronological order. However, that’s not necessary for the students. As your children begin homeschooling, they can join in with the other children, regardless of the book that is currently being studied. When a lesson deals with a concept that was covered in a previous course, the Helps and Hints book that accompanies the student text will remind the parent which book and which lesson covered the concept. That way, if the parent doesn’t remember the concept, she will be able to quickly look back and review. This will help her explain the concept to any children who weren’t being homeschooled when the previous book was covered.

Why do I think it’s a good idea to study science in a historical context? There are four reasons. First, students need to see that science is a process. If they study science historically, they will see how one person produces a bit of scientific progress, but in order for that progress to continue, someone else has to build on the first person’s work. As more scientists build on the work, even more progress is made. This gives the student a realistic view of how science works.

Second, the history of science is filled with scientists getting it wrong over and over again. Vesalius, for example, wrote the first modern book on human anatomy. However, he was wrong about a large amount of what he wrote. He even got the function of the heart wrong! Nevertheless, without his work, it probably would have taken a lot longer for us to figure out what we know now about the human body. Hopefully by studying this series, students will understand that even when scientists are miserably wrong, they can still help to advance our understanding of God’s creation.*

Third, the history of science is filled with devout people who were studying the world around them in order to learn more about its Creator. As the student learns about the Christian faith of these great scientists, it will become clear what many historians of science admit: The science we have today is a product of the Christian faith.

Finally, a historical approach to science revisits scientific concepts over the course of time. This allows for valuable review and repetition, which helps the student remember the concepts. At the same time, however, it is not a boring kind of repetition. Each time a concept is revisited, it is done in the context of a new person, and more importantly, it is done in the context of how the previous idea was refined to make it more correct. This makes the repetition interesting!

Is this series the best elementary curriculum out there? It is for some students. It is probably the worst curriculum out there for other students. The key is that it is very different from what is currently available. It is very “hands on.” For some students, that will be great. For other students, it will be a trial. It is the only detailed curriculum that presents science in a historical context. For some students, that will add to their interest. For other students, it won’t. The best thing for you to do is look at the sample lessons available at the publisher’s website and try them out for yourselves. If you and your children enjoy them, you will probably enjoy the course as a whole.

NOTE:
* A parent asked me this question, and I thought it would be a good one to answer: “Does this approach mean that the students will learn scientifically incorrect things for most of the course?” No, it does not. The course mostly concentrates on what the scientists got right. However, it does discuss the things they got wrong from time to time, because such instances can be a valuable illustration of how science progresses. If the course discusses an errant concept, it always tells the student the idea is wrong and that it will be corrected later on.
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53 Comments

  1. Anthea August 14, 2013 5:58 am

    Thank you for this. I think this answers some of the questions which I sent you yesterday on a previous blog entry. I lurve experiments, so a textbook that has them alongside the theory would be easier than juggling lots of different experiment books.

    I am printing this out to read it later.

    PS I like the film you made for Home Educating Family site. More of these, please. You explain things really well.

    • jlwile August 14, 2013 6:27 am

      I hope you enjoy the course, Anthea! There are more videos of my on the Home Educating Family Site. If you click on “Homeschooling 101″ and “Academics,” you will find many videos that have me in them.

      http://www.drwile.com

  2. Sherri August 14, 2013 6:57 am

    Never say never, Jay! :) Congratulations! The book series looks amazing!

  3. Birgit August 14, 2013 7:32 am

    Finally the day is here! Thank you for this wonderful new alternative in elementary science. What is the anticipated timeline for publishing the following volumes? My son just started 4th grade, and I would like to go through the entire series with him before starting junior high science. Our pacing will largely depend on when to expect the next book, and then the next,… I don’t want to race ahead and then suddenly have a gap waiting for the next volume to come out. No pressure though :), just curious.

    • jlwile August 14, 2013 8:21 am

      Thanks for your enthusiasm, Birgit. The second book (Science in the Ancient World) will be published in February or March of 2014. It has already been written and is currently being field-tested and peer-reviewed. The subsequent books are planned (Lord willing) to be published in February or March of each subsequent year. Thus, the last book in the series (Science in the 19th Century) is supposed to be published in February or March of 2017.

      http://www.drwile.com

  4. Birgit August 14, 2013 8:38 am

    Thanks so much! I will plan accordingly. God bless.

  5. Stephanie August 14, 2013 9:28 am

    How exciting!! Thank you for writing these! I was still unsure of what I was going to do this year with my younger son, but I think I now know. :) I only wish you had started these a few years sooner. hehe

  6. Maxine Howe August 14, 2013 11:12 am

    I think this idea is brilliant…and a long time coming! I’ve wanted a series like this for such a long time when my kids were homeschooling using the Classical Method. We studied art and music in historical context, so it only makes sense to study science the same. Too bad my kids have graduated. My grandson will be going to public school, but I may buy this for him, anyway. It would make a great Christmas present. He’s only 5, but going through this book would be a great way to spend quality time when he visits. Thank you for writing this series. I know a lot of families will be blessed by it.

  7. Shanna August 14, 2013 11:23 am

    What grade levels are we targeting? Just 1-5 of could it be used with the middle grades also?

    • jlwile August 14, 2013 12:10 pm

      Really, it’s K-6. By the time the student reaches 7th grade, he or she needs to spend more time reading, because the science becomes more content-specific at that point.

      http://www.drwile.com

  8. lindy August 14, 2013 12:21 pm

    Jay, I love the historical way of organizing science. (kinda helps that I love history also.) It brings a new angle and depth that is needed in the field of science. It will instill so many truths about science that is missed today; most importantly that science grows on what is previously learned and that nothing in science is ever finished or final… great scientist continually go from where science is today and poke holes into it until they breakthrough into a new discovery.

    Science is fun, creative, inquisitive and challenging! I am very excited for you in this new adventure! If you ever need help at conferences with a booth or table, let me know. I would be happy to assist, and be an enthusiastic salesperson! 😀

    http://www.lindylou-abbott.blogspot.com

    • jlwile August 14, 2013 12:29 pm

      Thanks for the offer, Lindy. I will tell my publisher that you are interested.

      http://www.drwile.com

  9. Charlotte August 14, 2013 1:55 pm

    I ordered it first thing this morning. I’m so excited that my children will be able to all work together on this. Thank you!

  10. Heidi August 14, 2013 2:05 pm

    I have viewed your sample pages and am ordering this book today. It is an answer to prayer as I am teaching 3 different ages in elementary school and I love how you have the assignments at the end of each lesson divided up by expectations according to age.

    I so appreciate the Christian and historical viewpoint of your text and look forward to using your other books in future years.

  11. gracekalman August 14, 2013 2:26 pm

    Yay! I knew what science curriculum I’d use for my kids in highschool, but I was feeling rather frustrated with the current options for elementary grades. Of course, I may be jumping the gun a little, but by the time I have kids, maybe you’ll have completed the course! I estimate you have around ten years. (Personally, I’m hoping for around 8 years.)

  12. Faye August 14, 2013 7:03 pm

    Hi there! This looks really exciting, and I wish it had been available when my son was younger. For my daughter, the Young Explorer series was just right, but for my son, who doesn’t do so well with super wordy textbooks, it was agony trying to get through even one paragraph. Consequently, we haven’t been doing much science at all for the past couple of years.

    I’d like to start him on this one, but we’ve run out of time to do the whole series (when it all comes out). We could do the first two before hitting General Science (he won’t be ready for that until 8th grade, I don’t think). Do you think he will be perpared enough for General Science after two books in the new series? Or do you think it will be too much of a shocking jump? My son has auditory processing and language issues. I’m not sure quite what to do for him. Thanks for any advice.

    • jlwile August 14, 2013 9:23 pm

      Faye, I think the best thing to do is start him on this series. Use the “older student” review exercises and see how he does. If the “older student” review exercises aren’t challenging enough, move up to the “oldest student” review exercises. The next year, definitely do the “oldest student” review exercises. If he is okay with that, try some tests. If he struggles with the tests, don’t move up to general science, just keep going in the series. Once he can do the “oldest student” review exercises and the tests, then he is ready for general science.

      http://www.drwile.com

  13. daybreaking August 14, 2013 9:38 pm

    Your new series looks great! I have a question, though. It was my understanding that you have recommended, and currently edit, Jeanne Fulbright’s Young Explorer books. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) Is your series meant as an alternative to the Young Explorer series, or is it meant to be used in addition to it? (I am intrigued by your new series and think my son would love it, but I already own most of the Young Explorer’s series, so I’m wondering how to proceed.) Thanks!

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 7:00 am

      Thanks for your question, Daybreaking. I did edit Jeannie’s Astronomy, Botany, and three Zoology books. I did not edit the other two books (Human Anatomy and Chemistry/Physics). My courses are designed to be an alternative to hers, because they are very different. Here is how the two series differ:

      The Young Explorers Series authored by Jeannie Fulbright is an excellent series that has been used successfully by many, many homeschooled students. My elementary series is quite different from the Young Explorers Series in many ways, because I am trying to help those for whom the Young Explorers Series is not a good fit. Here are the main differences:

      1. The Young Explorers Series is topical. You study Astronomy for a year, Botany for a year, etc. My series presents science in a historical framework. So rather than being topical, my series is more chronological.

      2. The Young Explorers Series has about 13-15 lessons per book, so each lesson must be spread over several days. My series has 90 lessons per book, and each lesson is designed to be done in one sitting. So my books are a bit more “scheduled” than the Young Explorers Series. You know exactly where to start and stop. Start at the beginning of a lesson, and science is over for the day when you reach the end of the lesson.

      3. The Young Explorers Series does not have as many hands-on activities as my series. In the Young Explorers Series, there are many days where you do nothing but reading. In my series, every day that you do science has a hands-on activity.

      4. The Young Explorers Series is based on notebooking and narration so that it can be multigrade. My series is also multigrade, but it does so by having three different levels of review for each lesson. The youngest students orally answer two questions about the lesson, and that’s all they do. The older students have a notebooking assignment for their review, and the oldest students have a more complicated notebooking assignment for their review. There is no narration in my series.

      5. The Young Explorers Series does not have tests. I am not a fan of giving tests at the elementary level in science, but I understand that there are many parents who want to give tests to their students. Thus, my series has 12 tests per book, so you could give the student a test every 3 weeks, if you choose.

      http://www.drwile.com

  14. Anthea August 15, 2013 2:27 am

    Thank you for you detailed replies and interaction with us all.

  15. Judy Wilcox August 15, 2013 8:33 am

    Jay,
    This looks/sounds fantastic! Why didn’t you have it finished about four weeks ago…before I purchased this year’s science curriculum for two of my kids? Well, then again, maybe I can just wait to do it next year when I can use it with three of my kids. In that case, you’re a year ahead of schedule, right?!? Thank you for all you do in the science realm, in encouraging homeschooling, and in instructing children to believe God’s Word is truth…in every subject area. May God bless your newest efforts!

    The Wilcox Gang (from Zeezok)

    http://zeezok.com

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 8:44 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Judy! And thanks for all you and Chris do for homeschooling! The course was finished quite some time ago, but because of contractual obligations with a company I used to own, I could not release or advertise it in the U.S. until yesterday.

      http://www.drwile.com

  16. Ginny August 15, 2013 8:37 am

    So…not to push you…but…if we do Science in the Beginning this year, can we expect to have the next book available for next year? It looks so good, but I’m attempting to get fifth- and sixth-graders ready for higher-level science. I also have one who adores DaVinci!

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 8:47 am

      Ginny, the second book is already written and is currently being field-tested and peer-reviewed. It is scheduled to be released in February or March of 2014. Thus, it should be published before you are finished with the first book. Your student who loves da Vinci should enjoy the second book. There are about 19 lessons on his work. In one lesson, the student uses milk to make plastic! The experiment employs the same basic chemical principles that da Vinci used to make his version of plastic.

      http://www.drwile.com

  17. daybreaking August 15, 2013 8:38 am

    Wow! Thanks for such a detailed response to my question. That helps a lot!!

    I also thought you’d like to know a little about your impact. Years ago, when my homeschooled nephew was in middle school, he was using your science books. He had a question, so he called your company. You personally spoke with him and answered his question. That made a big impression on him. In addition, your books were highly motivating to him, so much so that eight years later, he is now beginning his senior year in college as a physics major. Pretty neat, huh?

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 8:48 am

      Thanks so much for telling me that, Daybreaking! I am thrilled that my work had a part to play in shaping his interests!

      http://www.drwile.com

  18. Stephanie August 15, 2013 11:44 am

    Hi! Will this be available to purchase anyplace else soon – like CBD or Rainbow, etc.? I was hoping to pay less for shipping. Berean only appears to offer UPS and it’s $12. We’re on a very tight budget here. :)

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 2:14 pm

      Stephanie, you should call them toll-free at (877) 794-3005. They might use a special shipping option if you ask. As far as I know, this won’t be available in other outlets.

      http://www.drwile.com

  19. Stephanie August 15, 2013 3:07 pm

    Thanks! I’ll check that out. :)

  20. Faye August 15, 2013 5:34 pm

    Thanks for your reply, Dr. Wile.

    Have another question. I saw a review somewhere from someone who is testing your second book, and this person said it seems more difficult than the first. Since your series is designed to be read in a chronological sequence, are you writing each one at a higher level than the previous one?

    • jlwile August 15, 2013 6:55 pm

      Thanks for your question, Faye. I did not intentionally write the second course at a higher level. The field test is still underway, and hopefully the reviewer (and anyone else who finds it harder) will give me some feedback on exactly what made it harder. That way, I can tweak the discussions. That’s one of the reasons I do a field test before I send the manuscript to the publisher.

      http://www.drwile.com

  21. Kendall August 15, 2013 6:03 pm

    Excellent! I can’t wait to add this to my collect of Dr. Wile books! *is a hardcore fan*

  22. Dana August 16, 2013 10:05 pm

    I was curious if this might be too young for my 6th grader? Thinking of doing it with my younger ones though…
    Thanks, Dana

    • jlwile August 16, 2013 10:08 pm

      Your 6th grader can do it as well. He or she should do the “oldest student” review exercises, and you might consider having him or her do the tests. Then next year, he or she can move on to a junior high course, such as Exploring Creation with General Science.

      http://www.drwile.com

  23. Merry August 17, 2013 2:08 am

    So excited to hear about this series, it sounds fantastic! Sadly, my youngest is in high school this year (but not sadly, both of my kids are enjoying Biology! They’ll be dredging up pond water on Monday…) Anyway, I’m thrilled and think your approach is intriguing. I’ll be sure to share with my other homeschool friends. Thank you for encouraging students to marvel at God’s creation and learn all they can about it.

    http://www.hopeismyanchor.com

  24. Russ Veldman August 17, 2013 2:25 pm

    We are ordering this set today! Thank you!

  25. Tonya August 18, 2013 12:38 am

    I ordered ours the first morning I received the email about it, and I’m super excited to use it! I can hardly wait for it to arrive! The sample lessons look perfect for my 2nd grader and me. My oldest (now a senior) has completed the physical science, biology, and chemistry you wrote, and this year my 8th & 6th graders are doing your general science. We’ve been using the Young Explorers series for elementary science for the last 4 years. The material is very good, but I haven’t fallen in love with the set-up.

    Regarding your new book, I LOVE the short, one-session-long science lesson idea, the fact that it follows historical progress, and the hands-on aspect. I also LOVE that it covers multiple areas of science each year! Based on your book-release plan, if it’s as good a fit for us as I suspect, my son and I will finish the series just in time for general science. Yay! Thank you & God bless!

  26. Kevin N August 19, 2013 12:02 am

    Jay — Congratulations on bringing this project to completion, and I look forward to taking a peek at your book some day (perhaps I’ll drop in a homeschool convention sometime in the upcoming year). I think the historical approach is a great way to teach science, whether at the elementary or secondary level.

    http://geochristian.wordpress.com/

  27. Literary Mom August 20, 2013 6:10 pm

    When I first started homeschooling four years ago and heard you speak at a conference in Santa Rosa, CA, I was really impressed, but I thought I would have to wait until middle school to use any of your materials. Meantime, I have used all of the Exploring Creation books with my oldest (now entering 6th grade) a few with my younger ones, except chem/physics (which wasn’t out when we needed it), so I am thrilled to be able to dip into your new series this year (before my oldest moves into your previous curriculum), and am just wondering if you think my approach will work…

    We use the classical method of studying a different branch of science each year. There is no Exploring Creation book for earth science, which is what we’re studying this semester, so I ordered A Child’s Geography (really a misnomer) which is recommended by Jeanne Fulbright, as well as Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space (we’ll do space next semester). What I’d like to do is combine those with the sections of your books that fit into earth science. Do you think I could make that work? Then, in subsequent years, I would again use the sections that fit with whatever branch of science we’re studying. I realize this somewhat goes against the unifying theme, but since the lessons aren’t chronological (like history), I don’t think it would necessarily be a problem. I hope you won’t either, since I already ordered your book :) But I do want your honest opinion.

    http://literarymom.com

    • jlwile August 20, 2013 7:34 pm

      I think you could make that work, Literary Mom. Day 3 has some stuff about rocks and soil, and Day 4 is all space. Day 2 deals with water, which would fit in well when you are studying the oceans. Then, when you study biology, you can do the rest of Day 3 (plants) and Days 4 and 5. Then when you study light, you can do Day 1.

      http://www.drwile.com

  28. Literary Mom August 21, 2013 12:18 am

    Wonderful – thanks!

    http://literarymom.com

  29. nature’s workshop plus August 21, 2013 9:45 am

    For those of you considering Dr. Wile’s new elementary science curriculum, I would like to inform you that Nature’s Workshop Plus is currently in the process of putting together a lab kit to accompany this curriculum. It will hopefully be available within the next couple of weeks. Info regarding the kit will be available on our website http://www.workshopplus.com

    http://www.workshopplus.com

  30. Stephanie August 21, 2013 10:22 am

    Our book just arrived, and it looks wonderful! Thanks so much for writing it! :) Oh, and they were able to send it media mail for me, which was very helpful. Thanks!

  31. Diane Allen August 23, 2013 8:49 pm

    Thanks for tackling a new series! I want to say how glad I am to see a science series in a historical perspective. I’ve always said that learned more in my one “history of science” course than I did in several physics and chemistry classes combined!

    http://www.dallenhomeschoolreviews.com

  32. Rachel September 6, 2013 5:29 pm

    Dr. Jay,
    I am so excited about your new curriculum. I was in high school as a homeschooler when your first high school science books came out. We used them back then and loved them. Now I have kids of my own and am homeschooling them. I love your approach to elementary science – it is just what I have been praying and looking for! It is so cool to be able to use your curriculum for my own kids as we carry on the torch of homeschooling. Keep up the amazing work!

    • jlwile September 6, 2013 7:19 pm

      Spanning the generations of homeschoolers. That’s awesome, Rachel!

      http://www.drwile.com

  33. Mary G September 10, 2013 3:55 pm

    Placing my order today. Thank you for all your work over the years. I used your books in the past with my older children and am down to two students left in our homeschool. The 24 yr old is working towards his Masters in Economics this year and got honors in his college classes. Years ago you helped me sort out his needs for curriculum when I was part of a Catholic Yahoo Group. I will be integrating GIS & mapping with the historical content in the new textbook. God Bless you and your family.

    • jlwile September 10, 2013 4:06 pm

      Thank you so much, Mary! I am thrilled that I could help you sort out his needs!

      http://www.drwile.com

  34. Jenn Barnlund September 10, 2013 4:07 pm

    Dr Wile,
    We are so excited for this series! All 3 of our kids can now enjoy your teaching! Our older 2 enjoy your previous texts for high school and we so loved having lunch with you and Sally when you had the workshops in Anchorage for IDEA families! If you need Alaskan “field testers” we’d love to help out! Order this first set right away! Thank you for heeding God’s calling in your life. What a gift you are to the homeschooling parent!
    Blessings!
    Jenn Barnlund

    • jlwile September 10, 2013 7:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Jenn! It was great having lunch with you as well!

      http://www.drwile.com