Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

I bought a copy of Christian Kids Explore Chemistry from Bright Ideas Press. We haven't actually used this curriculum (I might use parts of it next year with our 9 year old), but I've looked through it pretty extensively and thought I'd offer some preliminary comments.

It looks like it's designed for middle elementary school to junior high, maybe grades 4 to 7. It essentially consists of short lessons, fill in the blank review questions, experiments, and periodic quizzes.

Bright Ideas Press has similar texts in biology, physics, and earth and space science. Sample pages are available for download on the Bright Ideas web site.

Since I haven't seen the other texts, I can only comment on the chemistry text. (I'd love to get a copy of the Earth and Space text and check it out for young-earth content. Anyone know anything about it?) The content itself is strong and (as far as I can tell) accurate. The workbook is cleanly laid out and looks fairly easy to follow. I have no clue if any of the experiments actually work, since I haven't done them.

Personally, I prefer the year-long single subject model for science education, as it allows you to go deeper into a subject rather than skimming several subjects for only a few weeks each. So for me, that's one huge advantage with this series of texts. The only other competitor I can think of that uses a similar approach for a similar age range is Dr. R.W. Keller's curriculum.

The major downside (if you can call it that) is that the integration of the Christian worldview is fairly sparse. Although there are periodic Bible verses sprinkled in the margin notes, they frequently don't have a strong connection to the lesson itself (at least none that was evident to me). Each new unit is proceeded by one short paragraph basically saying that God made the world to be a reliable place, governed by laws. While I have no disagreement with these kinds of statements, that's honestly pretty much the extent of Christian integration. Other than that, it's fairly 'worldview-neutral' in its presentation.

I guess the upside to that is there isn't any young-earth content to worry about. On the downside, there simply isn't much Christian content either. If you want more specific biblical integration, it will be up to you to supply it. While I can't necessarily recommend this curriculum on the merits of its Christian perspective, if you're looking for a year-long chemistry curriculum for grades 4-7, this might be one worth considering.

UPDATE (5/3/2009):
I wrote a query to the author of the Bright Ideas Press re: their position on earth science/geology. Here is her response:
This book also uses the young earth philosophy. My approach is to believe the Bible first and then filter science through that. I believe there was a world-wide flood. From that perspective, I can then accept that massive amounts of earth and life would be moved at rapid rates, creating all manner of layering and even moving continents. Please note: I am not a scientist. I do not go into this deeply, but rather try to show students what the Bible says and that not all scientists agree. "Many scientists who are Christians agree that the worldwide flood that is described in the Bible could have caused the separation of the continents. In this case the world would not have to be millions of years old. Such a flood could have caused the continents to move apart very quickly. This still allows room for the Pangea theory." (from Lesson 3 - Plate Tectonics) At all points, my goal is to show that being a Christian does not negate good science and that science does not negate the Bible.


Malachi said...

I'd like to hear your comments on her comments. ; )

Theology Mom said...

I don't really have much to add here. The author uses what I call the "biblicist" model for explaining the relationship between the Bible and nature. I have explained this elsewhere. Just do a search at the top of the blog page and you'll get some links. I use a "dual revelation" model.

As far as her comments about global flood geology, they cannot be substantiated by rigorous research. In other words, it's a model without support.