Program Goals for Elementary Science
The BJU Press elementary science program begins the process of teaching students how to use scientific knowledge throughout their lives. Science is far more than a collection of facts. Students can use the knowledge and skills they learn in science classes to change our world and improve it for others. Our program begins by shaping a biblical worldview of science for students so that they can develop a good foundation for science learning, starting from creation. They will get to engage in solving real-world problems so that they can see what they are capable of accomplishing as image-bearers of God. They will learn how to follow scientific methods, use models, and interpret and apply scientific knowledge through the lens of biblical teaching. Because of the worldview claims that drive modern science, Christian students must learn how to evaluate the information they encounter. We are dedicated to making science useful to students so that they can apply it to their lives for the glory of God.
Foundational Understanding of Science
To succeed in science learning, students need materials that go beyond a collection of scientific facts. They need to form a correct starting point for those facts, and they need to achieve science literacy. BJU Press elementary science materials introduce them to four key biblical worldview themes that will help them shape their understanding of science. First, based on the authority of Scripture, our science program establishes for students a young-earth model that views the earth and the universe as being about 6,000 or 7,000 years old (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 11:3). Additionally, the events of the Flood have significantly changed the surface of the planet. Second, students can find order in nature because it was designed by a Creator. Third, humanity was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), which helps students understand how we are above animals and responsible for the care of God’s creation (Gen. 1:28). Finally, students will understand that the end goal of science is to glorify God and to use it wisely for Him.
Additionally, the elementary science materials also help them build skills in reading informational science texts, introduce them to using science tools, and teach them how to read and interpret tables, charts, and graphs. The student edition also gives students a balanced introduction to science topics on a level that they can understand and assimilate, including introductions to STEM careers. It encourages students to read for information, a skill critical for learning content. Activities allow students to put science skills into practice and to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts.
Engaging Students in the Work of Science
Success in science learning also demands hands-on activities that get the students thinking about the world around them. Both the student edition and activities include guided discovery activities, inquiry- and project-based investigations, and STEM activities. These call the students’ attention to real-world problems that can be solved by using science skills. Additionally, many of these activities encourage students to collaborate with each other, helping them to learn twenty-first-century skills that scientists need to be effective, such as cooperation, time management, and problem-solving.
Many of the activities require students to construct and use models of real-world principles. Model use is an important aspect of science learning because scientists can’t always observe an object or principle directly, and must use a model to replicate what happens in real life. Interacting with these models helps students to explain and describe their observations as well as make predictions about those principles. However, using a model also reveals an important aspect of science learning: science has limits. Models cannot be exact, and only so much can be learned from them. Similarly, scientists are limited by the use of models and by their own understanding of real-world principles. Only the Bible has the authority to influence how we make decisions in science.
Interpreting and Applying Knowledge with Biblical Teaching
Scientific knowledge is useless in a vacuum because students need to be able to understand and use the knowledge they gain. The worldview lessons in the student edition help the students to interpret nature, including fossils, life, stars, earth, and the solar system, through the lens of the Bible’s story. Nature appears designed because it is. The activities support those lessons as they also give students an opportunity to apply what they have learned, using and developing their creativity and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, the BJU Press elementary science materials teach students to view the natural world as belonging to God. We can glorify God because of His creation. Scientific knowledge enables them to both care for God’s world effectively and to help others.