Novare Physical Science

November 12, 2013
Rating: 3.5. From 1 vote.
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Novare Physical Science

Content: Science
Grade(s): 6th – 8th
Perspective: Christian Kingdom
Prep Time: Moderate
Teacher Manual: None
Teacher Involvement: Essential
Cost: $$$ || ?
Pages: 349
Publication Date: 2013
Date of Review: 11/12/2013

Novare Physical Science is a brand new (2013) year-long middle school science curriculum that utilizes a mastery-oriented approach to learning. The book presents science topics in-depth, empahsizing comprehension, practice, and retention. It is intended to be used in combination with a teacher who actively engages the student in regular discussion about the readings. Parents with minimal science background who read along with their children will find that they can implement this curriculum at home, although conducting the experiments will be difficult. (More about that below.)

Conversational in tone, the book integrates science history, problem-solving, writing skills, and real-life scenarios and applications throughout the text and homework assignments. The author does a very good job with talking readers through the step-by-step process of solving various mathematically-based problems.

Printed on high quality paper and professionally bound with a hardcover, this textbook makes ample use of color, images, and other graphics. You’ll find clearly written objectives and vocabulary lists at the beginning of each chapter. Definition boxes appear throughout the chapters and a glossary is available at the end of the book.

Sections within each chapter end with a Learning Checkbox that assesses understanding of what was just read. End of Chapter Exercises stress that students provide comprehensive written answers to a variety of level of questions. For example, some of the Chapter 7 exercises have students (1) identify and describe the relationship between the steps in the Cycle of Scientific Enterprise; (2) research a scientific theory and explain how it has changed over time through new discoveries and scientific understanding; and (3) explain why they shouldn’t “ridicule” a scientific model by calling it just a theory.

Answers involving mathematical computations are provided within the same area as the actual questions, rather than at the end of the book. Answers are not provided for any of the comprehension-style questions. The textbook does not come with end-of-chapter tests that parents can administer at home. A companion Resource CD is available for separate purchase and contains chapter assessments, 2 semester final exams, and additional answer keys.

Novare Physical Science is a very writing intensive science curriculum. While the textbook does a good job of providing periodic comprehension checkpoints, all the assessments require students to write out answers in sentence format. No multiple choice questions or alternative assessment options are provided.

The biggest drawback with Novare’s Physical Science will be implementing the experiments in a homeschool setting. A detailed material list is given for each of the 12 experiments in the book. A savvy parent will know how to adapt some of the instructions and needed materials. For example, Experiment #4: Growing Crystals can be easily completed without actual beakers. However, Experiment #1: Kinetic Energy and the need to construct a friction flap may prove frustrating and time-consuming to some. Other experiments will require that you purchase unusual items, such as a mass balance.

An experiment material supply kit is available for separate purchase. A Lab Notebook is also available for separate purchase.

Chapter Summary:

1- Matter and Atoms
2- Sources of Energy
3- Conservation of Energy
4- Order and Design in Nature
5- Forces and Fields
6- Substances
7- Science, Theories and Truth

8- Measurement and Units
9- Properties of Substances
10- Force and Motion
11- Compounds and Chemical Reactions
12- Waves, Sound and Light
13- Electricity
14- Magnetism and Electromagnetism

Written from a Kingdom perspective, the author explains in the Teacher Preface, that “I do not believe it is appropriate to teach students to be dismissive of claims like [the universe began with the Big Bang] simply because they do not line up with certain ways of interpreting Genesis.” At the same time, readers will find a very influenced Christian perspective woven throughout various sections, beginning on page 2 with the assertion that the Universe is made of matter, energy, and God’s intelligence.

About the Author:
John D. Mays holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University, a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education from the University of Houston, a Master of Liberal Arts degree from St. Edwards University, and he completed 36 hours of graduate study in the field of Physics. He worked as an engineer before turning to teaching math science. John has taught in both public and Christian schools for 20+ years. The textbook acknowledges “ and were used as sources of information and for checking details throughout the book”.

Because one opinion is never enough! Have you ever used Novare’s Physical Science? How did it work for your family? Share your review below.

One Comment

  • Annette Cole October 29, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Our homeschool program has been using this book for the first time. We are using the Novare Physical Science book for our 6-8th grade classes. Although there are aspects of this book that I appreciate, I will not be recommending this book for future use in our program. I feel this book presents a mixed world view and compromises in key areas of scripture. The author repeatedly refers to the Big Bang as the origin of our universe. In one chapter he does define this to mean the moment that the Devine Creator spoke the Creation into existence. In other places he refers to the Big Bang as “An immense explosion of energy from a single point that occured 13.77 billion years ago.” He clearly believes in the Big Bang and does not give credit to Christians who believe otherwise. In another place in the book he states that ” It is ironic that some Christians today are opposed to the Big Bang theory because they fear that it contradicts the Bible. But as many able Christian scholars have shown in recent years, it does not.” He intertwines this view with many quotes from scripture. The author defines the faith-science debate as “A conflict in contemporary culture fueled on one hand by those who incorectly claim that science shows there is no God, and on the other hand by Christians whose interpretations of the Bible lead them to reject widely accepted scientific theories.” In the teacher preface of the book the author writes “It is a scientific claim to say that the universe began with the Big Bang and is now 13.77 billion years old. The scientific evidence behind this claim is vast, and I believe an appropriate science text is one that teaches students how to productively engage such claims. I do not believe it is approprite to teach students to be dismissive of claims like this one simply because they do not line up with certain ways of interpreting Genesis.”
    In evaluating the overall impact of this curriculum, it is my opinion that this textbook sends a confusing message to students and teachers alike.

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