Sonlight’s Science J course teaches about physics, electromagnetism, and waves. It was designed specifically for use in conjunction with Sonlight's History/Literature/Bible course titled History of Science Level J. Both of these 36-week courses can be used for eighth, ninth, or tenth grade.
Four books that come with History of Science Level J are also used with Science J. Three of those books are Joy Hakim’s The Story of Science series─Aristotle Leads the Way, Newton at the Center, and Einstein Adds a New Dimension. Jeanne Bendick’s Archimedes and the Door of Science is used in one lesson. Most readings from the Hakim books are scheduled in the History of Science Level J, and Science J relies on students completing those reading assignments along with additional assignments from those books that are found only in Science J. Lab activities in Science J are based on scientific principles discussed in the readings.
Science J consists of a lab kit and a package of looseleaf pages to be put into binders. The looseleaf pages are labeled as an instructor’s guide, but they are for both the parent and the student. The pages are divided into three sections. The first section is a brief explanation of the course for the instructor, and the third section has weekly notes for parents and student activity pages with overprinted answers. Notes for parents include only a brief overview of the week’s lessons, tips regarding the experiments, and occasional notes about the activity sheets. The parent does not have copies of all student pages.
The second section of student lab pages serves as the student workbook, and you will probably want to put that into a separate binder for the student while keeping the other two sections together for the instructor.
The student pages are mostly related to the lab work. Each week’s student lab pages list pages to be read in one of the Hakim books. Discussion questions for those readings are in the History of Science Level J instructor’s guide rather than in the Science J instructor’s guide. Lab materials that will be needed are shown in a box. There is a list of items provided in the lab kit and another list of items to gather on your own such as a ruler, a hammer, a cereal bowl, flour, and a timer. A brief overview for the student (which differs from the overview for the teacher) provides some background for the lab activity and usually makes a connection to the assigned reading material. Most week’s lessons include additional instructional information under the heading “Deeper into the Scientific Principle.” The rest of the week’s student lab pages show step-by-step, illustrated instructions and have lab activity sheets for students to complete. Some math is required as is appropriate for these grade levels.
The lab kit was designed by Avyx specifically for this course and cannot be used on its own. A list of items that are in the kit is at the front of the instructor’s guide as well as on the Sonlight website. Examples of some of the items in the kit are aluminum foil, balloons, AA batteries, ceramic disc magnets, diffraction grating, dowels, a fidget spinner, a hot glue gun, leads with alligator clips, round magnets, neodymium magnet, PVC clear tubing, a syringe, a tuning fork, and copper wire. It is possible to gather all of these items on your own, but there’s a lot to be said for having the exact items they recommend and saving the time it takes to get all of them.
Since the instructor does not have copies of all student lab pages, it seems clear that students are expected to work independently through most of the coursework. Notes in the parent's section alert the instructor to potential challenges students might encounter, so this makes it easier to know when supervision might be needed for some lab activities.
This integrated approach using History of Science Level J with Science J helps students make connections between history, science, and faith—more of a unit study approach than we generally find in other courses for eighth through tenth grades. I expect most students will retain information better when they learn about the relationships between topics in the different subject areas.