Truth in Science Curriculum
Over the past several years, you may have noticed an increase in the number of Bible-centered curricula designed to help Christian homeschoolers teach about worldview. This recent emphasis on teaching worldview to students in high school (or even much younger!) is at least partially motivated by the idea that students will, in the future, be presented with a secular, humanistic worldview whether in a public university, or just "out in the real world" among peers and authority figures who may not hold the same beliefs as the student. As current evidence suggests that many Christian young adults do not have the tools to defend their faith or even explain why they hold their Christian beliefs, you will probably see even more resources poured into this area. You may now be thinking "Wait, I thought I was reading about science curriculum did I somehow skip ahead to Bible programs?" No, you are still in Science, and about to learn about a brand-new science curriculum developed from a unique perspective, packaged in a fairly traditional format. Meet Truth in Science, the only science program we have seen that first incorporates a study of worldview into science, then weighs all the science that is learned throughout the year against a biblical worldview. It was constructed under the direction of Dr. G. Thomas Sharp, Ph.D., founder of the Creation Truth Foundation, in an effort to incorporate worldview study into the sciences, rather than treating the two as separate entities. This makes sense when considering that if students take further science courses in a public educational environment, a secular viewpoint will be assumed as fact and students will then have to separate "pools" of information to balance, especially if their Christian educational studies have not addressed secular concepts. At this point, you may be worried that although the worldview sounds good, you're not sure if the science coverage is "up to par." You will be pleased to know that the science content is written to meet current standards. Ambitious in scope, the way the program is set up delves into worldview first, distinguishing a biblical worldview (Creation) from a secular worldview (evolution). "True Science," things that can be tested and observed, are differentiated from "beliefs" which cannot be tested or observed. After this foundation has been laid, science concepts (including those included to meet standards) will be examined through this filter.
Although the curriculum for grades 3-6 will all be available shortly, 6th grade was the first level available, and the only one we have seen at the time of this writing. Each curriculum is made up of the following parts: a set of "Student Steps" which together comprise the student text and workbook portion of the course (similar in size to an Alpha Omega LIFEPAC), a test and quiz packet, teacher's edition, answer key and a Multimedia/Support DVD. To make this program flexible and affordable, the publishers are offering packages with and without the teacher's edition, understanding that some parents may prefer to rely on the answer key, particularly at the lower grade levels. "Steps Packages" include the Student Steps, the test and quiz packet, the answer key and the DVD. "Total Packages" include all of those pieces plus the teacher's edition.
Let's spend a few minutes becoming familiar with these components, starting with the Student Steps. There are eleven Student Steps in the 6th grade program. These are organized around particular topics and are designed to be fairly self-instructional. The sequence of Steps was deliberately chosen and contains: Worldview, Classification, Plants, Cells, Reproduction, Meteorology, Changing Earth, Geology, Earth's Resources, Ecology, and Astronomy. Concepts from each of the three branches of science are included, although the emphasis at this grade is more on life and earth/space science. As a whole, this is a year's worth of content although the scheduling is up to you (suggested teaching schedules are provided in the teacher's edition). There are eight lessons in each Step, featuring a mix of text, activity and experiment. Each step begins with a list of objectives, scientific vocabulary, a memory verse and a foundational concept ("Bedrock") for each unit. Lessons that are made up of instructional text are broken up with short-answer questions to the student, related Bible verses (KJV or NASB versions), and short paragraphs. The text is written to be fairly challenging but it also incorporates some Biblical Hebrew background, plus fascinating facts and examples that you wouldn't find in the average dry textbook. Full-color photographs and diagrams also provide visual interest. There are typically two parts to the lesson, the first where the science topic is explored using the Bible as a lens, and the second, where the standards-based science content is presented, in bulleted paragraphs. Occasionally, items in the standards-based science are identified as being somewhat different than what a creation scientist would believe. For example, in Step 2: Classification, the second part of Lesson 3 provides the standards-based information about biological classifications. One point mentions that there are six kingdoms identified by secular science, and in parentheses, it is noted that creation scientists consider "Man" to be the seventh, and not a part of Kingdom Animalia. These standards-based portions are typically followed by a fill-in-the-blank word activity for reinforcement. Besides the text and text exercises, there are other activities built into the units, including graphic organizer worksheets, vocabulary activities, science labs/experiments and a larger "Report-To-You" research project. Science labs are presented as individual lessons, not as an add-on to a text lesson. Each includes a time estimate, prediction questions, a materials list, a procedure, questions for analysis, a statement of expected results, and follow-up questions. Labs are accompanied by "Science Journal" forms, where students write their predictions, observations, and conclusions. The "Report-to-You" project is a larger research project that the student is encouraged to work on throughout the unit, and present as Lesson 8. Although the internet is suggested for much of the research (specific websites are sometimes given), you may wish to use some of these in conjunction with English or writing lessons, with the student using library books and reference books in addition to website information. A grading scheme is provided with each project assigning a point value to each part completed. While the research report projects provide a great experience, these can be omitted, or pared down based on the time you have available. The test and quiz packet contains a quiz and a test for each Step. The quiz focuses on the biblical worldview as it applies to the concept studied. Ten questions, including multiple choice, true/false and essay make up each quiz. Chapter tests focus on the standards-based science concepts, and include 20 questions in a variety of formats (multiple choice, true/false, matching, and short answer). The assessments are loose-leaf and consumable, with no answers included in the packet. The answer key contains answers to all of the tests, quizzes, and text-based questions in the Steps. It does not include answers to any of the experiments. The Support DVD contains a video introduction to the program and an overview of how to use it. Full-color visuals are contained in PDF format on the CD (171 of them in Grade 6!), and these can be printed or used on-screen if you do the teaching portion of the lesson near a computer. These visuals are used in many of the lessons, adding more explanation and diagrams than would easily fit in the student booklets.
The last component of this program is the teacher's guide, the largest piece, and one that you may decide is optional. Large, and spiral-bound, it contains teaching information that corresponds to each lesson in every Student Step, with an abundance of background information on each topic. It took me a second to get oriented to the teacher's edition, because while the full-color pages look at first glance like they contain reduced copies of the student pages, they actually hold all of the teaching information for each lesson, set up in a nearly identical format. Each lesson begins with objectives and materials, divided into "student resources" and "teacher resources." Student resources refer to the related page(s) in their Step, while teacher resources typically reference one of the PDF visuals. If the lesson is a lab, then the list of lab materials will be listed. The information for the text lessons complements what is in the Student Step. Text questions (with answers) are listed in the teacher's edition, with bulleted paragraphs for teaching the content. A mix of information and discussion questions make up the teaching component, to encourage discussion and reinforce both the scientific and worldview concepts. If you are not a scientist, don't worry. An abundance of related information is provided, both in the teaching information, and in the margins of every page, designed to give you background on both Biblical and scientific concepts. For the labs, the teacher's edition contains teacher instructions for preparing the lab, and questions and instructions to guide the student(s) through it. Several pages at the beginning of the teacher's edition contain an introduction to the program, suggested teaching schedules based on the amount of time you want to schedule for science per week, an explanation of worldview and how it is incorporated, the tenets of scientific and biblical creation, and the publishers' educational philosophy. If you feel fairly confident as a science teacher, or you are intending this course to be primarily self-instructional, you may not need the support of the teacher's edition. If you want "the full experience" and all the background information the teacher's edition can provide to help you teach the course, you will find it helpful.
To summarize, this program is very Biblically-based, with distrinctions drawn between what a biblical worldview and a secular worldview see in different science topics. The program is well-organized and set up in a way that can be used either in a homeschool environment or Christian school environment with a student "text," teacher's edition, assessments and visuals. The layout of the program is extremely professional and attractive, with full-color design, photos and illustrations on almost every page. The student portion includes the text, as well as a mix of activities, with plenty of writing activities incorporated as well. Student portions are designed to be consumable, and are not reproducible without permission from the publisher. These pieces are all available separately and are reasonably priced if you need replacements. If you like the idea of actively examining scientific concepts through a worldview lens rather thanÂ "assuming" a worldview and accepting related beliefs as fact, you will appreciate the effort that has been made to construct this curriculum. ~ Jess