I was given a copy of By Design Science to review, and am being compensated for my time in writing it. All opinions are always mine.
We talk about science a lot around my house. Because my husband speaks on the topic of creation vs. evolution, he is always sharing the latest news on the topic with us. He’s also particularly interested in what a science curriculum is teaching, and it’s something we discuss frequently. So when I was invited to review By Design Science for grades 1-8, I was gladly on board!
By Design Science
If I had to summarize my favorite things about By Design Science curriculum, this would be my list:
- Clearly from a Biblical worldview
- Possibly the best example of a science curriculum teaching critical thinking skills I’ve ever seen
Each level is divided into four sections: Life Science, The Human Body, Physical Science, and Earth & Space Science. The curriculum consists of:
- student textbook
- science journals (one for each section)
- teacher’s guide (which includes blackline masters, tests, and loads of extra information)
I reviewed the 8th grade curriculum. Not only was the textbook easy to follow, but with topics like exploring the science behind how drugs affect your body, I could see how it would connect easily with students. The science journals connect in a unique way, too.
Each journal begins with lifestyle evaluation and commitments. For example, How Can I Avoid the Dangers of Alcohol? and How Can I Improve My Environment?
How cool is it that not only are they getting kids to think about putting their knowledge to work in the real world, but also setting the stage for some awesome discussions!
The science journals are a mix of laboratory notebook, review pages, and life skills. I really like the idea of having a separate journal for each section, instead of one large one. It seems more manageable as well as giving a sense of completion with each one.
Another thing that I appreciated seeing were sections throughout the By Design Science textbook that introduce People in Science, Careers in Science, and other news in Science & Technology. Tying learning to the real world is always a good thing!
As a classroom teacher, I always wanted to have more material than I thought I would need. This did two things. First, if we covered things faster than I thought, there was always something more to do. And second, it gave me some freedom in deciding which topics or activities were a priority.
By Design Science does exactly that! Between the student text, journals and teacher’s guide, it is utterly chock full of possibilities. If you tend towards overwhelm…remind yourself that this is a good thing! It gives you choice and freedom!
Several times while looking through the textbook, my science-analyzing husband said, “Most textbooks don’t cover this…this is great!”
Even the greatest minds, if not guided by the Word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation.” –Ellen White
The teacher’s guide shares this quote in the introductory section, and it is representative of the tone of the entire curriculum. Throughout, God’s word is held as the highest standard. In a section titled, The Bible and Science, the book states,
“Those who have chosen a biblical worldview recognize the Bible as the standard by which everything else should be evaluated…It is important to remember that science is a creation of God and should never be elevated above God.”
The text also examines various theories of origins, holding each one up to the light of Scripture. As a firm believer in a literal 6 day creation as described in Genesis, I’ll admit that I personally would have liked to see a strong endorsement of that belief. However, I’m not complaining about the way the text handles the discussion. The teacher’s guide identifies which beliefs can credibly be backed with Scripture. And, as my husband stated, “It’s a good opportunity to see which belief is backed by both Scripture AND evidence.” (You might guess that our understanding suggests that a literal interpretation of Genesis does just this, which is what my husband presents when he speaks).
Teaching critical thinking like this is probably what stood out to me most in this curriculum.
Starting in the introduction, the textbook reminds students that science has limitations. Things like experimental design, historical science, and bias are presented. Students are also reminded that all data is interpreted through a worldview, in this case either Biblical or Naturalistic. The book makes an effort to differentiate between these as it teaches.
Know the difference between data and interpretation. Data is information gathered…Interpretation is the meaning you attach to the data. Recognizing which part of any scientific claim is data and which is interpretation can help you evaluate the validity of the claim.
Like I said above, I initially bucked a bit at the text not taking a side on many of the topics studied. After examining the teacher’s guide, however, I really value what they are trying to do. Getting students to ask questions, and to truly think through both sides before coming to conclusions.
While I didn’t read every single page of the text, there were a few instances in which I wish that an alternate view were presented more completely. Overall, however, I think the curriculum has done this really well.
Who is By Design Science For?
If you are looking for a science curriculum for a co-op, class, or study group By Design Science would be a fantastic choice. I also think it would be ideal for students just leaving a public school setting. The critical examination of traditionally taught science concepts would be eye-opening, and the textbook format familiar.
For an individual homeschooling family, the cost might be a concern. However, I would encourage you to consider the value of creating a study group with another family. Experiments are more fun done together, and the topics are prime for really good discussion. You’d save money by only having to purchase one teacher’s guide among the group. The company also provides assistance in teaching to multiple ages, which is a perk.
Also worth noting is the quick response of the staff at Kendall Hunt. I found their pricing to be somewhat unclear and shot an email off with a question. The staff responded almost immediately with accurate and helpful information. Please make use of their assistance!
Engaging, thorough, promoting a Biblical worldview and heavy on critical thinking skills.
What more is there in a quality curriculum?
Kendall Hunt Religious Publishers also publishes these product lines:
In addition, Kendall Hunt offers Talented and Gifted programs in mathematics as well as products developed in collaboration with the CFGE (Center for Gifted Education) College of William and Mary in subject areas such as language arts, social studies, and science.