Science in the Beginning

After much speculation and anticipation, Dr. Jay Wile's new elementary Science curriculum is now available, and, dare I say, it was worth the wait! For those unaware, Dr. Jay Wile is the author of the Jr. and Sr. High Apologia Science curriculum which was specifically designed for homeschool family use and he continues in the same vein with this newest offering.

Designed to be used every other day, this one year curriculum contains 6 units, one for each of the days of creation. Each unit includes 12 foundational lessons and 3 challenge lessons, a total of 90 lessons altogether, giving students an in-depth look at science through the lens of creation. While the challenge lessons may be considered optional if you have a science-resistant child, you will find they add depth and enjoyment to the subject being studied.

With the firm belief that children of all elementary ages can learn together, each lesson offers a hands-on activity or experiment (parental supervision required), three pages of reading and review assignments subdivided into three levels: Younger, Older and Oldest. Wisely, Dr. Jay has given you, the parent, the discretion to select the best level for your student(s), making this practical and easy to use with varied ages and abilities. Let me give you an example of the questions and how their level of difficulty increases from lesson 9, Day 1 of Creation: Younger Students: Where does your eye's lens focus the light that passes through it? What do the rods and the cones do in the eye? Older Students: Make your own drawing of the eye, based on the one you see on pg. 25. Label the cornea, lens, retina, and optic nerve. Make a note that the rods and cones can be found on the retina. Also, point out in the drawing where the blind spot is, and explain why it is a blind spot. Oldest Students: Do what the older students are doing. In addition, I want you to predict what would happen if I changed the instructions in the experiment. Suppose I asked you to hold the book so the red squares are just to the left of your nose. Then, suppose I told you to close your right eye and look at the red and blue circles with your left eye. Then, suppose I asked you to bring the book closer and closer to your face. Can you predict what you would eventually see? Write down your predication and then see if it was correct by actually doing the experiment that way.

The Hands-on Activities or Experiments primarily use common household items, but please note that we are working to offer a prepackaged kit for your convenience, please check online or call customer service to see if it is available. Supply lists by unit and "Materials that may take some time to acquire" are conveniently located in the front of the text, making it easy to secure items ahead of time. Curious about what materials may "take some time to acquire?" Here is a sampling of the above designated items: iodine, medicine dropper, Root Kill, Binoculars, compact fluorescent light bulb, etc. - things that are easy to buy, but you don't necessarily have on hand.

While the hard-cover textbook contains all of the necessary instruction, the author has provided parents with a "Helps & Hints" soft-cover book which offers experiment and activity notes, answers to all three levels of questions and optional tests (with answers) which are reproducible for family use. The author recommends students keep notebooks of activities/experiments and lesson questions to evaluate learning, but has graciously provided optional tests for the families who want to expose older children to test taking or those who like the test taking option for children of all ages.

At this point, you may wonder how this compares to the Elementary Apologia curriculum. At first glance, the main difference is the scope of topics. All science topics are presented in this one book, whereas the Apologia Elementary courses study a single topic in-depth. The format of Science in the Beginning is most similar to the upper level Apologia texts with step by step experiment instructions and lesson reviews. Fully illustrated graphics are plentiful but not as bountiful as in the Apologia elementary. Also noteworthy, each lesson in this book contains 3 pages of textual reading making it less than the average daily readings in the elementary Apologia courses.

This is a well done course that provides younger children an exceptional introduction to science topics along with offering your budding Jr. High student an excellent preparation for the higher level sciences. Set contains the hardcover Textbook and the Helps & Hints, or the books are available separately. ~ Deanne

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