Science 4 for Young Catholics

Book cover: 'Science 4 for Young Catholics'
Dr. Gregory Townsend
Seton Press
Number of pages: 
197 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 

This 4th grade science textbook is nicely laid out and easy to use. Each chapter begins with a brief biography of a famous Catholic scientist, like Copernicus, Mendel and Pasteur, followed by four literal comprehension questions. The goals of the chapter and an outline are also provided at the beginning of each chapter. Interspersed among the text of the chapters are experiments, activities, and review questions. There are also review study pages at the end of the chapter.

Since it is a Catholic text, the author inserts things to think about which are distinctly Christian. For example, in the chapter about plants, the text offers an explanation of the plant dying to release a seed. There is a picture of a Crucifix on the page and an accompanying caption explains, " . . .a flower dying to produce a seed reminds us of how Jesus suffered and died in order that we might have new life."

The topics covered in this course are The Heavens; The Earth, Moon and Space; Oceans, Weather and Climate; Water and Material Things; Machines; Living Things; The Wonder of Man; and Health. Many states require a health component and this last chapter handily takes care of that requirement.

The topics are arranged in the order of creation, which is great for religion, but not necessarily good for the study of science. If done that way, the student starts with things which are least known to him (the heavens), instead of those things which are most known. However, most secular science texts also start with things least known, like cells. A significant drawback to the text is that there are few if any true "thinking" questions. The questions for review are all explicitly literal comprehension. Even the experiments and activities do not ask the student to reflect about what he has observed or to draw conclusions. That seems to leave out a very important element in the study of science.

If supplemented with discussion and hands on activities, this could be a useful text because of the information it provides. The chapters do not rely or build upon one another, so you could teach the topics in any order you choose.

Although there are many lovely illustrations in this book, I found the cheesy illustrations (such as a cartoonish picture of a sun with sunglasses in the astronomy section) annoying and in conflict with how I want my children to learn to love science. (A.V.H.)

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