Review: Even the Sound Waves Obey Him
This schoolyear, even though I’m doing Sonlight 1 science with my two younger boys (Grant, 3rd grade, and Wes, 1st grade), I thought I’d choose a different text for experiments. This is our second time using the Sci1 curric, so in order to use it again, I’d really need to purchase another package of experiment supplies, which is fairly spendy… And, to my recollection, many of the experiments in the suggested book were time consuming, complex (at least for 1st graders), and a number of them didn’t work. I know that experiments “not working” is just part of the scientific process, but it’s difficult to explain to a 6yo why all his efforts didn’t have the flash and bang as illustrated on the pages.
Also… in this, our 6th year of homeschooling, I find myself looking for more ways to incorporate our faith into our schooling. I’m still not of the hyper-Christian-homeschooling bent; I still don’t see a need for Christian math and Christian handwriting and Christian “recess” or whatever… but I’m a little more flexible on this issue than I used to be.
So, when I saw the book Even the Sound Waves Obey Him — Bible Stories Brought to Life with Science by Nancy B. Kennedy, I thought it might be what I was looking for. It promised “44 Quick & Easy Experiments,” but as any homeschooling mother knows, an author’s idea of “Quick & Easy” isn’t necessarily the same as the mother’s idea of “Quick & Easy.” Also, since the book is aimed at Pre-K through 2nd grade, I was afraid it might be a little “young” for my 3rd grader.
The book is a large paperback with bright white pages, attractively illustrated. It travels chronologically through the Bible, matching paraphrased short Bible stories with an experiment or activity that is more or less related to the story. Each page is nicely laid out, with a black-and-white illustration of the experiment, a small list of supplies, an overview of what will be done, a three-to-five step experiment, then an explanation of how and why the experiment works.
We have done seven experiments so far, and all but one has been a success. I have been impressed by how, with such brevity, the experiments are able to illustrate some fairly complex scientific ideas, like air pressure, the charge of electrons, how warm air expands, etc. The science is very sound, and has made total sense to both my 6yo and my 8yo. It’s not too young for my older boy; indeed, even my oldest son, who is in 5th grade, voluntarily pokes his head in whenever we do an experiment. Almost all of them have been interesting enough and simple enough for the boys to re-create on their own, later on. You know something’s a hit when they want to continue experimenting in their free time.
Almost all of the supplies used will truly be found in most houses. A few, like powdered borax, glycerin or Ping Pong balls aren’t likely to be lying around in your cupboards, but could be very easily obtained.
Start-to-finish, each activity — including reading the Bible story and all written experiment descriptions — takes 15-30 minutes, which is just right for my children.
The Bible story part of each lesson is also sound. My one minute bone to pick with it is that the author is obviously Baptist, and several bits I’ve read in her commentary under each story (headed “What We Can Learn”) seems to be just a little overt with Baptist doctrine. For instance: “With His Word and through Baptism, He washes away our sins…” I believe in water baptism, but my view is that it is more supplemental to the conversion experience, not elemental. Still, though, it’s just a minor annoyance that the author gives such emphasis to baptism; it doesn’t detract from the overall value of this book. And, whenever we come across comments like that, I’ve turned them into quick lessons on what I believe, and why, but that not every Christian believes the same…
So, long story short, I definitely give this book a thumbs up for your K-3rd graders, either as supplemental to your homeschooling curriculum, or with a church Sunday School class. Younger students could participate, but probably won’t comprehend the explanations of why that cool experiment works. Older students will enjoy participating, but the activities here should only be supplemental to their own, more complex, scientific study.