Review By Design Science

We love science. 

For me, studying science reveals some of the amazing ways God left his fingerprints in this world he created. When you see how intricate and awe-inspiring the world really is, how complex and clever the design of everything around us, it’s as if creation itself calls out, “look here! See God here? And here??”

My 12 year old son loves science, too. He finds it interesting and fascinating. Right now he’s particularly interested in energy, forces, motion, and other physics-related things. He’s also curious about chemistry, the elements, and other earth science things.

Finding the right science curriculum can be tricky. I have requirements, expectations, and a budget. One of my biggest requirements is that I want science material that teaches creationism, and preferably compares it to evolution as well. (I’m not trying to raise my kids in a bubble, I do want them to know the other side, too.) This is one of the things that led us to the Apologia science we have used for all the younger years of science.

By Design Science for Grades 1-8
By Design Science for Grades 1-8

But my son is ready to dig deeper into science. He’s looking for something which introduces the areas of physics, chemistry, and general science, and he’s not quite ready for upper materials that Apologia provides. So when we had the chance to review and check out a different faith-based science curriculum that looked like it would do that for him, I eagerly accepted. Kendall Hunt Religious Publishers has provided me with a free copy of their 7th Grade science curriculum, “By Design,” so that I could check it out and review it.

Kendall Hunt Religious Publishing

Faith-Based Science Curriculum: By Design Science for Grades 1-8 from Kendall Hunt Religious Publishers

What does “faith-based” mean? If you’ve spent any time looking through “faith-based” curriculum, you know that can mean a wide variety of things.

By Design Science is faith-based in that it: 

  • holds to a creationism view
  • includes scripture in the lesson
  • includes scripture and character training in the margins of the textbook
  • refers to Biblical principles (in the human body section, in addition to reproduction and STD’s, you’ll find a section on the physical and emotional health benefits of abstinence.)
  • includes “lifestyle challenges” in the workbooks, which challenge the student to think about things like being a good steward or dealing with negative emotions.

Faith-Based Science

By Design is a Seventh Day Adventist curriculum written from a Seventh Day Adventist worldview, which points to God as the creator of all things. That said, even though I’m not SDA myself, the curriculum seems to be only be written from the worldview, not digging into SDA theology, making it useful for other denominations as well. When scripture is quoted or the kids are asked to look up verses to learn more, the text doesn’t include scriptural teaching. In most cases, open-ended questions are posed, such as “why do think the Bible says this?”

In any case, most faith-based curriculum doesn’t give us the benefit of knowing which denomination the writers adhere to, and in all cases, I remind my children that we should always take scriptural teachings and theological questions back to our main text: the Bible. *Should* we run across something that sounds new or different, we will go back to God’s word. The fact that the curriculum is Seventh Day Adventist doesn’t bother me, but it’s something that should be pointed out.

The Design of “By Design Science”  – How it works, Scope and Sequence

By Design Science follows an inquiry based approach. This approach follows a five step model: Engage, Discover, Explain, Extend, Assess/Reflect.

Inquiry Science

Following the inquiry-based approach, students are encouraged to wonder, ask questions, and seek answers. The colorful textbook is divided into 4 units: Life Science, The Human Body, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science. Each section also includes a little bit of Health teaching along the way, while connecting the lessons to their faith. It’s chock full of info, tidbits, thoughts, scripture, and additional questions in the margins of each page. 

  • Life Science: Bacteria, Protists, and Fungi; Invertebrates; Vertebrates; How Organisms Inherit Traits
  • The Human Body: Human Development and Sexuality; Infectious Diseases; Other Systems of the Human Body
  • Earth & Space Science: Objects in Our Solar System; The Effects of the Earth’s Movements; Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe
  • Physical Science: Energy Waves; Motions and Forces; Work, Power, and Machines; Energy Transferred and Transformed
Inquiry Based Science from By Design Science for Grades 1-8
Inquiry Based Science from By Design Science for Grades 1-8

In addition to the student textbook, 4 workbooks, or journals, are included–one for each unit. Each journal includes pages for the various inquiries, the lifestyle challenges, and additional inquiries.

Homeschool Science

Open and Go: Inside the teacher manual, you’ll find a smaller copy of the student text, along with prompts and helps for teaching. Using these prompts you can open up the text and teach it with no extra prep. (You will need a small amount of prep for some of the additional activities in the journal, though.) You’ll also find suggested pacing for the lessons each week, black line masters, extra worksheets, tests, and more.

Homeschool Science Lessons
Lesson Planning

Hands On Science

By Design Student Text and Teacher Manual Comparison:

Homeschool Faith Based Science
Student Text
Open and Go Homeschool Science
Corresponding Teacher Text

Advanced for Gifted Learners or Kids Who Need to Be Challenged

Though not specifically promoted as a gifted or advanced curriculum, several other fellow reviewers also noticed that this curriculum can be quite a bit more advanced than other same-grade materials you may have used.

Something about the phrasing of the sentences and the vocabulary used in the text would be a little too advanced for my son to read independently. (It’s also metric, which will take some getting used to.) But since I’m reading this to him and teaching as we go, it works.

Curriculum for Science-Minded Homeschoolers

There are also a lot of hands on activities which are great for those kids who want to do more science. Many of these are independent activities that challenge your kids to think and use the scientific process.

Inquiry Based Science Journals

The material is easily adaptable, though. If you want to do less activities, cover less material, or make it a little easier, you can.

By Design Science (Grades 1-8) would be great for co-op classes.

Actually, the material is written with a teacher in mind (as opposed to independent study.) Written for class groups and homeschoolers alike, the material is adaptable either way. But regardless, you’ll want the teacher materials.

Because day the way the material is structured and the teacher manual is set up, this would be a great choice for a co-op class or a group if you lead one.

Faith Based Inquiry Approach Science Curriculum for Homeschool

Final Thoughts on By Design Science

  • The material is well written.
  • The units and lessons are well structured.
  • It’s useful for single homeschool students or for groups.
  • It’s challenging, but can be modified by the teacher for less of a challenge.
  • Student journals are full of hands on experiments and activities (any of which can be skipped if desired.)
  • By Design points children to God
By Design Science
Browsing through the book to see what we’ll learn about. . .

By Design Science from Kendall Hunt Religious Publishers definitely helps homeschoolers see God and his design through the study of science, which is very important to me. It’s saturated with science and scripture. My son is happy to see more opportunities for hands on activities and experiments. Eclectic and relaxed as we are, we look forward to digging through (picking and choosing) various things to learn about and do. This textbook will be a good addition to our resource library.

If you have skilled young scientists who want to go deeper in science, if your kids want more hands on activities, if you are looking for science that you can open and go AND which ties science to faith, or if you are looking for a structured science for your co-op group—if any of those apply to you—then you might enjoy using the inquiry based, faith-filled curriculum, By Design.

For more info on this curriculum, you can watch this video, visit their website, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

*Note: As I mentioned at the beginning, Kendall Hunt Religious Publishers supplied me with a free copy of the student texts and digital access to the teacher manual, for me to review. All of the opinions here are 100% my own and are completely true. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!