Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Geology Kluge Job

We've been attempting to do earth science/geology this year in school. I have a fourth grader and a kindergartner. It's been challenging to find a way to meet them both at their level. Either which way, I just thought I'd share what did and didn't work for us.

As many of you are well aware, earth science is the discipline where young-earth creationists inject the most inaccuracies into their texts. Consequently, there are some tough choices that have to be made.

Choice #1: Do I use young-earth (creation science) curriculum or secular curriculum?
Personally, I chose secular. I'd rather teach the kids good science than try to work around all the crazy flood geology in the creation science textbooks. I can always add my own biblical integration.

Choice #2: Now what?
I mean seriously, it was all lovely for me to choose to use secular curriculum, but there aren't a lot of options out there for younger kids on these subjects.

So here was my journey...

In the beginning, I tried using Myrna Martin's geology curriculum. I had review copies on hand that I bought a couple years ago for work. That lasted only a few weeks. I had high hopes for it, but it just wasn't very interesting. I was bored and I don't get bored very easily.

Then, I bought a geology text for middle schoolers through Glencoe. I totally wasn't expecting it to be two inches thick. I was thinking it would be a little more scaled back because, after all, it was for middle schoolers, not high schoolers. I'll probably use this text with the girls a few years from now, but for this year it wasn't real helpful.

Plan C. So then, I went to the educational store to investigate other options. I ended up buying some workbook-type resources. This actually worked out pretty well. I particularly like the Evan Moor series.
These books have labs, worksheets, and mini-books to make. Some of the content overlaps or is simplified in the lower grades, but I was ok with that. Each girl made her own geology notebook throughout the course of the year.

I went to the library and checked out short books on whichever topic we happened to be working on at the moment to read aloud. This provided more details than were given in the workbooks.

The girls filled out lab sheets after each experiment and I had the fourth grader write a paragraph on each major topic we did.

I also bought a set of rocks, minerals, and fossils. If you do that, I'd also suggest investing in a good magnifying glass (not a cheap plastic one).

Here are the topics we covered:
  • layers of the earth
  • volcanoes
  • plate tectonics
  • Pangaea
  • layering (e.g. superposition, etc.)
  • reliability of dating methods
  • how fossils are made
  • history of life/fossil record
  • types of rocks and minerals
We threw in a couple field trips to the tar pits and the natural history museum and that was about it. And the girls seemed perfectly happy with this. And overall, I was too. The pace wasn't crazy and they got a survey of key topics. Of course, we'll revisit these themes in a few years in more detail, but for now, this was adequate.

A possible alternative:

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