The fourth edition of BJU Press’s Earth Science targets students in eighth grade, although it might be used with seventh graders as well. The text covers both earth and space science, but space science is taught in only the last of the course’s six units.
Within the first unit, the authors discuss the course's fundamentalist biblical perspective including defense of a young earth. At different places in the text, conflicting ideas regarding the origins debate are presented along with explanations that contrast those views with the viewpoint taught in this course. Conflicting theories and interpretations are discussed respectfully, so students learn concepts that students would learn from secular texts. But the course is heavily weighted to convince students of the validity of the text’s viewpoint. The text also stresses the importance of caring for the environment as part of both Christian stewardship and God’s directive for man to take dominion over the earth. These themes resurface frequently.
At 728 pages, this Earth Science text is very comprehensive. It covers matter, forces, energy, maps, geology, earthquakes, geologic formations, oceans and seas, surface and groundwater, rocks, minerals, ores, fossils, weathering, erosion, the atmosphere, weather, climate, the solar system, stars, galaxies, the universe, and space exploration. The text deals fairly with issues such as the ozone hole and climate change, presenting scientific data along with various viewpoints.
The text is up to date with information on recent scientific discoveries and technology. For example, it teaches about digital maps, GIS (global information system), and GPS (global positioning system). In the teacher’s edition, teachers are encouraged to use technology in lesson presentations and activities whenever possible. Also stressed are the importance of interaction through discussions, demonstrations, lab work, and other activities.
This Earth Science text is very well written. The authors use stories, history, current events, and hot-button topics to present information within contexts that should be interesting to students. Students can read through the textbook on their own and it will be a good course. However, a teacher, drawing on additional information and ideas from the teacher manual and Teacher’s Toolkit CD, can make the course even more interesting. Lab activities really should be done with a parent or teacher if the student is not in a group class.
The Earth Science subject kit consists of the student text, a two-volume teacher’s edition, a lab manual, the teacher’s edition of the lab manual, tests, and the tests answer key. The Teacher’s Toolkit CD-ROM packaged at the back of the first volume of the teacher’s edition has section quizzes (PDF), more than 300 slides, and web links to use with Google Earth on a computer.
The Earth Science Lab Manual offers both activities and experiments. Students might work with graph paper and data as they learn about handling data and making predictions. They might use Google Earth to plan a pretend vacation—the goal being to become familiar with Google Earth which the teacher or student can use later in the course. Or they might perform an experiment in a more traditional fashion by recording and analyzing data. The Lab Manual walks students through each activity step by step with clear explanations and lines and charts for recording information and answering questions. For each lab activity, there is a list of equipment. This includes easy-to-find things such as scissors, cardboard, a glue stick, drinking straws, food coloring, and a drill (with drill bit), as well as lab equipment and supplies such as a scale, graduated cylinders, hydrochloric acid, and a ring stand with a clamp. The lengthy list of required resources is at the back of the manual as well as on the Teacher’s Toolkit CD.
Students should not complete all activities, and some will be impractical for homeschoolers. To make labs easier for homeschoolers, Logos Science has created a lab kit for this course with their own addendum to the lab manual that eliminates the need for expensive equipment and activities that could be dangerous in a home setting. Just having these resources gathered for you makes this kit a practical investment, but having the number of options narrowed down is helpful as well. From one to four students can use one lab kit.
Both the student textbook and lab manual are softcover books printed in full color with plentiful images. Each of the course’s 25 chapters concludes with a chapter review that summarizes key points and lists key terms and the pages where they are taught. Then students answer sets of review questions. Chapters are further divided into sections, and each section is followed by a set of “Section Review” questions. Answers to both section and chapter questions are in the teacher’s editions. The Teacher’s Toolkit CD also has section quizzes with different questions as well as answer keys for those quizzes. The teacher’s edition of the lab manual has reproduced images of student pages with overprinted answers.