Homeschool Corner

Science: An answer to prayer

by Ruth Sundeen

Shortly after we began homeschooling in 1989, I observed almost no one encouraging their children to pursue science, and I began to pray that God would raise up Christians to go into the science fields dominated by evolutionists and atheists. Now having taught more than 600 students in my home, many in science fields, I can honestly say, “Be careful what you pray for.”

What about the mom, with little science background, whose children need basic instruction in science, or whose child can’t get enough science in their intellectual diet?

Here are Seven Steps for Successful Science Study to get you started: Scripture, Science, Safety, Search for Opportunities, Spend, Support, and Send Them Equipped with Truth

Scripture

Romans 1:20 says the Creator of the universe not only made nature understandable, He also gave us the ability to comprehend both His power and the fact that He is God. God has already provided everything we need to open the eyes of our children to this truth.

Science

Observation, age-appropriate explanations, and hands-on activities are key. But beware; unscientific evolutionary and environmental concepts abound in preschool books and children’s programming. As parents, we want to give our children accurate information, especially in the areas of evolution and so-called global warming. Our responsibility is to search out truth and distill it into a form our children can understand. Ultimately, we focus on the Great Designer, who laid it all out for us to understand and enjoy, and we can then offer enough scientific information to confirm that science and special creation are beautifully intertwined. Why is this important?

In the DVD, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, several prominent evolutionists are interviewed. Each one states that when he or she began to study evolution, that’s when they stopped believing in God. Clearly, these concepts can make or break a young person’s faith. We have a great God, one who can redeem exposure to evolutionary teaching. But how sweet it is to impart truth to our young children and watch them walk through life seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere they look.

What about human-caused global warming? Global warming, itself, is essential for life on Earth. The idea that humans caused it and worsened it, however, is not based on facts. Currently, global warming enthusiasts are finally acknowledging data that shows Earth is actually cooling, but so much time and money has been invested in their “warming” philosophy that they’ve now renamed it “climate change” and insist a consensus of scientists support their view. In fact, there is no consensus. (See www.petitionproject.org.) Remember, facts are not the result of consensus, but of actual scientific data.

Climate change is simply this: weather, occurring daily since time began, waxes and wanes in a cyclical fashion, often driven by solar activity. Yes, we should be good stewards of Earth’s resources, but we should base our behavior on facts, not fear. Always remember: teach the facts.

Safety

Safety is a priority, especially in chemistry. Think you don’t need chemistry? We use chemicals every day in our homes and workplaces, and we need to handle them safely. No, your eight-year-old should not mix everything under your kitchen sink together for an experiment. Simply mixing ammonia and chlorine bleach together creates toxic fumes.

For curious children, there are many books available with easy-to-understand experiments that they can safely do with parental supervision. There are also numerous experiments on YouTube and DVDs. Safety first!

Search for opportunities/teachable moments

Recently, I came across science activities from our first week of homeschooling (back in 1989). We planted a small garden and flowers, documenting the proper names of each one. (Audubon Field Guide is indispensable.) We checked on the progress of the seeds daily. (Learn how to keep a log.) Our son watched nature films again and again. (Repetition is key.) He drew pictures of things he was really interested in and labeled them with their proper names. (Details are important.) We discussed babies and the roles of parents. (Again, keep it age appropriate.) Do these sound like things you could do? Absolutely! Take advantage of teachable moments; they’re pure gold!

Spend

Debra Bell, in her book, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, states that if you have a science-oriented child, be prepared to spend some money because they won’t be satisfied with cheap substitutes. This really hit home when we stretched our budget to purchase LEGO® Mindstorms for our son one Christmas. That “toy” gave our son a creative outlet; he used touch, light, motors, and motion sensors. He learned the programming language Visual Basic, and he built a robot that roamed all over the place, skills he still uses today as an adult with a physics degree.

Support

We all learn alongside our children as we teach. How many times have we searched for information in an encyclopedia or on Google before teaching a topic? There is one major component to teaching, though, that eclipses everything else; most enlightenment and inspiration for students occurs when you get excited about what you’re teaching, and that excitement is contagious!

The good news is that you don’t have to have all the answers. Allow your students to research things they’re interested in, even if the material seems too technical. They will glean enough valuable information to make it worthwhile, eventually grasping the more complex aspects. Have you ever asked an eight-year-old about dinosaurs and were then treated to a 15-minute in-depth conversation because they were fascinated by the topic and had read every available resource?

With little science background, my parents still gave me a strong Biblical foundation. What I want you to understand, though, is the importance of the fact that they always supported the science “bent” God had placed in me, and encouraged me to pursue His will!

Send them equipped with truth

I would encourage you to find a curriculum that’s written on a student level and learn it along with your child. Investigate things in your yard and neighborhood; go on field trips; introduce your child to a trusted science professional; organize a field trip to a lab; participate in a science fair. Your child could read a biology textbook and then attend a one- or two-day lab intensive, providing them with hands-on laboratory experience.

If someone in your area is teaching science to homeschooled students, make sure you understand how that person is presenting the facts, especially regarding evolution and environmental concerns. If you have a science background, consider including additional students in your own classes, or offer to teach a science class in your homeschool co-op. If God leads you to be the science teacher, He will give you strength and grace.

The bottom line

Do you trust God to have the best interests of your child at heart even more than you? Do you trust Him enough to believe He chose you as the parents of your child and gave you all the necessary tools to raise your child to be who God intended? God has programmed it into our DNA to learn about Him. Many of the great scientists throughout history began their scientific endeavors by simply observing God’s creation, then having absolute confidence that He could help them understand it.

God has already placed a bent or set an inclination in our children toward whatever He has planned for them. We don’t have to know everything; we just facilitate the process and support our children in what God has called them to do. You can do this!

Biographical Information

Ruth Sundeen has a B.S. degree in Biology. She home-educated her two children for 18 years, including other students for high school science classes, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Anatomy & Physiology. She is passionate about teaching science from a special creation standpoint, helping students develop a love of science, a strong grasp of the scientific evidence to support special creation, and the conviction that they can make a difference in the world we live in. She and her husband, Larry, live in Abita Springs, Louisiana.

Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Fall 2015. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.