I was looking for a science curriculum to use as a source text for our new schole' group, when I had a friend send me a link to this particular curriculum. The Berean Builders Series is an elementary series (K-6) that boasts seeing science through the lens of history. The idea intrigued me to take a closer look and see what it was all about. If you are an history loving family that really struggles to get into science as deeply, then I would definitely recommend this curriculum and here's why...
FAMILIAR BUT DIFFERENT
This series is done by Dr. Jay L. Wile and it has some similarities to another science curriculum that you may be more familiar with that he helped author...Apologia science. If you have had experience with the Apologia curriculum, then you will still see some familiar elements. There are a few things that are distinctly different with this curriculum, however. Berean Builders Science in the Beginning is an efficient science book for elementary aged students. It is significantly more concise in it's presentation, less technical and gets to the heart of what's important for a child in the K-6 age range to know for the topics presented. No lengthy chapters to read. There are clearly broken down lower and upper elementary review questions to further guide parents in what might be age appropriate to know, related to the science presented. The curriculum is centered around the experiments. What takes multiple books to cover in Apologia is all touched on in one book with Berean Builders. In the Science in the Beginning book, there isn't a big "history" feel per se. There is much more of a history lens and available tie-in chapters for corresponding history curriculums in the Science in the Ancient World and Science in the Scientific Revolution books which follow. You can click on the text samples and table of contents along with other helpful information such as the correlating line up of Story of the World, The Mystery of History and Tapestry of Grace to read and match up with your science! These references are really helpful to bring history and science together nicely.
NUTS AND BOLTS
The book I was sent to review was the Science in the Beginning textbook. It came with the textbook and the Helps & Hints book. The history lens this particular book has is to provide scripture verse and small commentary about each of the days of creation upon which all the experiments are based for that segment of lessons. The book has a helpful section in the front that tells you all the materials you will need, broken down per chapter, for doing the experiments. This is helpful for planners who want to begin to source the materials on their own. They do however, have a kit you can purchase for all the science experiments, if you want to make it easy on yourself. Unlike the Apologia series, there are no formal journal/notebooks, but you can purchase correlating lapbooks from here, if that really resonates with your children. This particular book is presented as through the lens of Scripture and the Seven Days of Creation. As it moves from each day of creation to the next, the topics explored are relevant to that day of creation such as Day One being Light related experiments and explanations, Day Two being Water related etc. There are helpful highlighted notes throughout, to notify you of an experiment that requires a day or two before or after to complete. The experiments are all color coded and easy to find quickly. There are 35 hours worth of hands-on activities and 90 total hours of instruction represented in this book. The Helps & Hints book is a quick, concise teacher explanation of the experiment and it's relevant scientific explanation. It would be an easy book to use for your science at home, without making a huge commitment or needing any pre-cursor science knowledge. Lastly, it has a definitive Christian Worldview -which I appreciated.
WHAT I THOUGHT AND HOW IT FITS
I really like what the Berean Builders series is doing and I encourage you to head over to their webpage and look at their curriculum. We love history and science -so this beautifully marries both of them. I love not just the historical spin in the text but also the reference to various history texts you can read, in order to line up your curriculum and expand upon the historical perspective, using history books such as Story of the World. I love the Christian worldview for a science text. I think Berean Builders is a friendly textbook for this K-6 age range. It has simple experiments that are often using common household items or easily obtained items and students can easily perform most experiments independently. This one book covers all the topics that would take several books to cover in a curriculum like Apologia. I like how the book is built around the experiments and not an add-on at the end of the chapter. The text is great at framing the experiments and the information presented as an awe inspired view of God's creation. I like that there is a kit to purchase for the experiments, and I thought it was a reasonable price for a year's worth of science experiments. Especially given that you would not have to hunt around for everything yourself. Most of the experiments are pretty simple to execute and don't require you to be a scientist to "get it" in order to pull one of them off with your kids. Another really cool feature is that you can register and log into a provided website from the book, where you can ask questions of Dr. Wile. He will respond and help you with your science questions and experiments - pretty cool hand holding from afar. I love the classical feel of this science curriculum.
I highly recommend this curriculum and plan to use it this fall in our own group. This is a very friendly homeschool mom science curriculum!