It isn’t always easy for faith-based homeschools to find a high quality science curriculum that matches their values.
With a rigorous approach to science that is rooted in strong, Christian principles, an easy to read and easy to use format and lots of engaging experiments spread throughout, Berean Builders book can help students develop strong science skills and strengthen their faith in the long run.
What We Like
But watch out for…
What Is Berean Builders?
Created by nuclear chemist and long-time curriculum developer Dr. Jay L. Wile, Berean Builders is a multilevel Christian homeschool science program intended for students in elementary through high school.
Named after the inquisitive yet devout inhabitants of Berea (in today’s northern Greece), Berean Builders consists of two series of science curricula, Science in History and Discovering Design.
These books blend the study of science with a strong biblical worldview, teaching students general science as well as higher level subject-specific courses in Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
What Grades or Ages Are Berean Builders Books Intended For?
Berean Builders offers courses in science for students through grades 1-12, and does so through two different series of science books.
Science in History is aimed at students in elementary through middle school, or about grades 1-8, and teaches a general science curriculum appropriate for this level, touching on subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, technology, earth science and more.
The series is made up of six different courses, each relating to a different era of history.
- Science in the Beginning
- Science in the Ancient World
- Science in the Scientific Revolution
- Science in the Age or Reason
- Science in the Industrial Age
- Science in the Atomic Age
Discovering Design, on the other hand, is aimed at high school students and is made up of four subject-specific courses:
- Discovering Design with Earth Science
- Discovering Design with Biology
- Discovering Design with Chemistry
- Discovering Design with Physics
Being a homeschool science course, there are of course no real hard and fast rules concerning age or grade range for each course.
In fact, there is no particular recommended order to the Science in History courses, with the company recommending that students approach the series based on their personal interest.
This can make the program ideal for the science-oriented precocious learner, especially given the straightforward, personable and clear manner in which the texts are written.
When it comes to Discovering Design, however, things get a little trickier.
As might be expected when studying earth science, biology, chemistry or physics at the high school level, there can be a fair amount of math involved, with students needing some familiarity with algebra, geometry and/or precalculus to properly make sense of and complete the work.
As a result, while younger advanced students can certainly attempt the courses, we feel it is important that parents make sure they have the requisite math knowledge and skill in order to prevent undue frustration.
What’s Required To Teach Berean Builders?
By and large, Berean Builder courses are pretty compact and don’t require parents to purchase a lot of materials and resources as some other science programs do.
There aren’t, for example, any lab manuals, experiment guides, journals, or reference guides needed for this program.
Instead, Science in History and Discovering Design both largely rely on a single core textbook that covers both instruction and activities, an optional “Helps & Hints” or test booklet for each course, and ultimately optional (but recommended) science kits.
Science in History Textbooks
The Science in History texts are full color, illustrated and hardcover textbooks that contain everything a student needs for the course including lessons, various experiments and review activities.
Written to the student, the lessons present their material in a fairly casual tone and in a straightforward manner, which can help make science learning more approachable and less intimidating (or boring) for students.
At the same time the level of writing is kept pretty professional, using all the proper terminology required of an elementary school general science curriculum, and providing fairly thorough explanations throughout.
Although the writing seemed to us to be fairly student-friendly, at no point did we feel as if Dr. Wile was overly simplifying or dumbing down the concepts or materials presented, which is always something we appreciate.
On the downside, although the books do contain a good number of illustrations, there aren’t quite as many (in proportion to the amount of text) as some other programs out there, such as Apologia or the Good and the Beautiful science units, and so Science in History books can look a little text heavy at times.
Interestingly, and unlike many other homeschool science programs out there, the Science in History texts weave the lesson’s experiments directly into the lesson text, rather than keeping them in a separate booklet or saving them for the end of the lesson.
Aside from preventing the need for parents to buy another book, this also allows students to then go on to read about and explore what they’ve just seen and the relevant concepts behind it.
Discovering Design Textbooks
Similar to Science in History, Discovering Design textbooks are full color and illustrated hardcover books.
These textbooks also serve as the core component of each course, containing everything a student needs to learn the material, including lessons, illustrations, chapter reviews and experiments, as well as periodic comprehension checks after each lesson, with answers located conveniently at the end of each chapter.
Written to the student, these textbooks are very straightforward and easy to read for students, presenting the material in a very warm and approachable manner, yet still provide a very thorough and detailed science education for each subject, exploring concepts deeply and using their proper terminology and vocabulary.
Unfortunately, although well illustrated, Discovering Design can, too, be fairly text-heavy.
Although this should be less of a problem at the high school level, it can still make the text a little more intimidating at first glance to students who are perhaps a bit science-shy or who have reading difficulties.
Interestingly, the Discovering Design series does offer its textbooks as audiobooks, which are contained on USB keys that are sold separately.
Having the textbooks read aloud can be an effective option for students with reading or learning difficulties, as well as those with auditory learning preferences or styles.
One thing parents of such students should note, however, is that these audiobooks don’t contain all the material of the textbooks, missing the various experiments and comprehension check questions, and so can’t fully take the place of the texts.
Science Kits and Experiments
Being a science program, it should come as no surprise that Berean Builders includes a wide variety (and number) of science experiments and activities in each course.
In the Science in History books, as with many other elementary to middle school science programs, these largely involve the use of common household materials (root killer, iodine, binoculars and so on) and generally don’t require any specific scientific equipment or materials.
At the front of each textbook is a fairly detailed lab supply list that helpfully outlines what is required and there really isn’t anything too complicated to acquire at a local store, although some parents may need to do a little shopping at the beginning of the year.
The Discovering Design books, however, are intended to be full high school science courses and, as such, they do include formal experiments that can require specific materials and resources to complete.
These resources are offered in ready-made kits that parents can purchase alongside the main course, either put together by Beream Builders or from other, relatively well known, homeschool science kit providers, such as Nature’s Workshop or Cornerstone.
In terms of their contents, the kits are fairly expansive (designed as they are to supply the many, many experiments and activities in each course), and can make doing the experiments a lot easier and more efficient in the long run compared to purchasing the required materials individually.
This is especially true as some of the experiments require home lab equipment, such as microscopes, various chemicals, Ph paper, graduated cylinders and more.
In fact, in the case of Discovering Design with Earth Science, the science kits even have numbered samples that, while making it a lot easier to keep track of things during lessons, make using a substitute somewhat challenging.
That said, for budget conscious parents or those who simply don’t want to have to buy and use a science kit, Berean Builders does make an effort to accommodate.
At the back of each book is a list of lab resources that are required for each experiment and parents can, for the most part, try their hand at sourcing their own materials if they’d like.
Additionally, although it depends on the course in question, Berean Builders has included a good number of activities that can be done with household items.
For example, in Discovering Design with Chemistry about 27 out of 46 experiments can be done with things a parent can find at a local store.
Interestingly, there are no experiment notebooks or journals required for any of the Berean Builders courses.
While Berean Builders sells pre-formatted notebooks and offers downloadable sample PDFs on the company website, by and large students are encouraged to build their own.
This means that there can be a bit more flexibility in how a student records their data, which can be useful for those following an alternative homeschool science methodology and who want to record data in the way that best suits them (even if it isn’t fully inline with the suggested methods of the program).
Helps & Hints and Test Booklets
With Science in History, parents have the option of purchasing a Helps & Hints book for each course.
Softcover and black and white, the Helps & Hints books are designed to accompany the Science in History series and are sort of like an all in one parent’s manual and test book.
Written simply, the books offer considerable guidance and tips for parents to help make sure learning stays on track and offer simple and straightforward explanation of any experiment results, both of which make it very useful as a resource for new homeschoolers and parents whose science knowledge and skills are a bit rusty.
Similarly, when it comes to Discovering Design, there is an optional Answer Key and Tests manual that parents can purchase.
These contain answers to all the chapter review questions in the textbook, and also offers parents a selection of tests that can be administered periodically, as well as their relevant answer keys.
How Berean Builders Approaches Teaching Science
Strong Christian Outlook
Berean Builders is a homeschool science program that is based around strong Christian values and a biblical worldview.
As such, the program teaches that God is the creator and throughout the books there are many instances of biblical quotes and scripture that connect in some way to the material being taught.
An underlying theme in both series of books is in viewing science and the natural world as proof of God and His intelligent design, blending faith and scientific thought rather than seeing them as opposing values.
As such, the books are never really afraid to dive into scientific concepts or issues, working to draw a logical connection between God, scripture and the natural world.
One thing parents should note is that while Dr. Wile is a young Earth creationist and while some of the texts do make his views known, both old Earth and young Earth views are discussed and debated.
…But Introducing Other Points Of View
One thing that differentiates Berean Builders from many other Christian homeschool science curricula out there is that, while it has a very strong biblical worldview, it doesn’t really shy away from presenting and explaining different viewpoints.
Particularly in the older levels, but also in some of the later Science in History texts (Science in the Industrial Age, for example), students are introduced to concepts such as old Earth, evolution, fossil records and so on.
One of Berean Builders goals is to encourage critical thinking in their students and so, when such controversial topics arise, the books tend to explore both sides.
Throughout the series, these concepts are critically examined, and Dr. Wile introduces their underlying logic and reasoning before contrasting them with arguments that support Biblical scripture.
In doing so, we feel that students get a richer and more nuanced look at different scientific subjects and issues compared to curricula that simply discuss one side of an issue.
Further, as Dr. Wile manages to provide strong, carefully structured apologetic counter-arguments to these sometimes controversial topics in science, we feel that students can ultimately walk away with a strengthened Christian outlook and greater overall resilience.
Multilevel (Science in History)
One thing that larger homeschooling families will appreciate, particularly if they have multiple children learning at the elementary level, is that the review activities in Science in History are multilevel.
In other words, each review section has different activities for different rough age groups (younger, older, oldest), allowing parents to teach several students at once from a single book but still customize the learning to their children’s needs.
For example, if a parent has three students working from a Science in History text, after finishing a lesson, the youngest student might answer a few simple questions about a concept, the middle student might take things a little further and justify the reasoning behind it while the oldest will go a step further, interpreting and deriving meaning from statements or even doing their own research and study into the matter.
One thing we liked about this approach is that the Science in History texts don’t make any grade or age-based recommendations for the work, leaving it up to the parent to decide which review activities a student should try.
As a result, parents have the freedom to modify the workload to accommodate a student’s ability.
Younger, but gifted or scientifically-inclined, students might be given tasks aimed at “older” or even “oldest” students, while students who are having a harder time can be offered a more reasonable workload.
Berean Builders is also a very hands-on and activity rich science curriculum, bringing scientific theory to life through plentiful experiments, demonstrations and in-lesson activities.
With Science in History, each lesson tends to be built around a formal demonstration or experiment, while with Discovering Design each chapter can contain up to 5 in-lesson experiments, which is a lot more than most other homeschool science curricula out tend to offer.
As a result, students have the opportunity to get a lot more hands-on with Berean Builders, and because many of the experiments can be a lot of fun (balancing forks, watching things burn or even extracting DNA from fruit) they can serve to increase student enjoyment and engagement, which in turn has been shown to improve learning and retention in the long run.
It also can help make Berean Builders lessons far more multisensory and should help make it particularly interesting for kinesthetic learners.
Lots of Review
Both Science in History and Discovering Design include a good deal of review in each lesson and chapter.
Whether they are answering questions, doing a comprehension check, an additional activity or even conducting their own research-led investigation into a topic, students are given a lot of opportunity to go over what they’ve been learning.
Aside from keeping important information a little fresher, which can be good for students who tend to forget key concepts over time, and can serve to help parents make sure that students are absorbing and retaining the necessary information, which is always helpful.
Chronological Study of Science (Science in History)
The Science in History series is structured a little differently than most science books out there, with the books arranged in a chronological order rather than by grade level or subject.
Sequentially and starting from the very first moments of creation, the books proceed down the historical timeline through the ancient world of the Greek philosophers, the beginnings of modern science and the scientific revolution, the wonders of the industrial age and, finally, through to the modern atomic age.
As they do so, students are introduced to and explore both the scientific concepts discovered during these time periods and the lives and, importantly, the faith of a wide variety of historically-relevant scientists and natural philosophers.
In this way, students can develop a better understanding of science as a continual process of incremental discovery, rather than a series of isolated facts to memorize, which is something we think is pretty interesting.
Science in the Beginning
Based on a firmly creationist account of the origins of life and…well, everything, Science in the Beginning is divided up into 6 units, each representing a day of creation.
Students start off with lessons about light, learning about the color spectrum, refraction, reflection, energy conservation and more.
From there, students progress through the properties of air and water (touching on gases, pressure, wind, temperature and so on), as well as land, sea and plants (germination, water cycle, rock cycle, photosynthesis, etc).
Additional units include the moon, planets and stars, with students learning about things like the solar system, apparent motion, the moon’s phases and so forth, and water-dwelling creatures and birds, where students explore concepts such as taxonomies, salt/freshwater, vertebrates/invertebrates, flight, eggs and egg structure, and much more.
Finally, the book rounds out the learning with land animals and people, where they explore topics in human biology, animal homeostasis, the senses and more.
Overall, while perhaps a bit unorthodox in structure and organization, we feel that Science in the Beginning provides students with a thorough introduction to earth science, biology, ecology, chemistry and more and does so through a compelling biblical lens that we think many faith-based families will appreciate.
Science in the Ancient World
Science in the Ancient World explores the scientific advancements and scientific thought that emerged in the pre-Renaissance era.
The book is divided into 6 historical periods, Science Before Christ (~570-370 BC and 429-120 BC), Science Soon After Christ (40-200 AD), Science in the Early Middle Ages (490 – 1368), Science in the Late Middle Ages (1320-1512) and the Early Renaissance.
As they progress through history, students study a diverse range of scientific areas, from anatomy and medicine through the ages, discoveries such as magnetism, the atmosphere, soil erosion, optics, sound and more.
In addition to exploring scientific concepts, students are also introduced to the lives and works of great natural philosophers of each era, from Pythagorus to Davinci, ultimately creating a well-balanced, interesting and historical exploration of general science.
Science in the Scientific Revolution
Picking up again in the 16th century, in Science in the Scientific Revolution, students explore the world of science as it progressed following the Middle Ages.
Throughout their studies, students learn about the scientific works and philosophies of the fathers of modern science, such as Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Pascal, Newton and more.
In doing so, students receive a pretty in-depth study of concepts such as acoustics, sound waves, heliocentrism (and its rediscovery), binary numbers, gravity, Newton’s Laws and more.
Importantly, students also explore the important role that faith had in the lives of many of these natural philosophers, hopefully putting to rest any doubts that students (or parents) may have about the the ability of science and faith to coexist.
Science in the Age of Reason
The fourth volume in the series, Science in the Age of Reason continues the march of scientific progress through history, introducing the concepts discovered and explored in this period, including the conservation of mass, the battery, infrared light, weather patterns, Dalton’s atomic theory, light waves, color and more.
As with the other titles in the Science in History series, students are also introduced to the lives, studies and beliefs of the famous scientists and philosophers of the time, from Benjamin Franklin to Volta and Richter.
Science in the Industrial Age
Moving forward in time a bit more, the fifth volume in the Science in History series covers scientific advancement and thought from the 1800s-early 1900s, and the rapid shift from manpower to machine efficiency.
Throughout the book, students explore the many advances in science that laid the first foundations for the modern age, including electrical circuits, Faraday cages, the human brain, cell structure, the laws of thermodynamics, X-rays, radiation and more.
They are also given the opportunity to explore the lives, period and studies of their discoverers or inventors, including Cuvier, Faraday, Graham, Edison and Marie Curie among others.
Science in the Atomic Age
Rounding out the series and taking students into the modern age (and into middle school science), Science in the Atomic Age is something of a departure from other titles in the Science in History series.
The book acts as something of a bridge between the elementary-focused Science in History and the high school-oriented Discovering Design series of books, and touches on a variety of more complex scientific theories and concepts, such as the various models of the atom, centripetal force, atomic mass, cell structure, antibiotics, DNA, chemical reactions and human anatomy.
Although it still discusses science in the context of history, exploring concepts discovered in the early 20th century to the modern day, Science in the Atomic Age is structured more along the lines of a traditional textbook, with chapters centered around topics and concepts in science, rather than important figures, their environment and their thinking and beliefs.
Similarly, rather than being divided into 6 units, there are 16 chapters in the book and it introduces more formal experiments and the comprehension checks that are characteristic of Berean Builders’ high school science courses.
That said, the experiments involved are still centered around common household goods and, while perhaps more complex than those found in other titles in the series, are still easy enough for many students to do on their own.
How It Works
Science in History
Although the periods and science topics differ, books in the Science in History series do share a lot of similarities.
Each book is divided into 6 units, each typically covering a period in history with about 15 lessons per unit, as well as an additional 3 “challenge lessons” designed to take learning a little deeper.
By and large, students should be able to complete a Science in History book in a typical school year (30-36 weeks) at a 3 lesson a week pace.
Parents who choose to forgo the extra challenge lessons and want to set a less intensive pace, however, should be able to complete a book in a school year on a 2 lesson a week schedule.
The lessons in each book, too, follow a similar and fairly predictable pattern.
Students and parents read from the core text, which serves to introduce and explore various scientific concepts.
As they do so, various drawings, pictures, charts and diagrams help demonstrate or illustrate Dr. Wise’s points and key terms are highlighted in the text, which can be helpful for those compiling scientific vocabulary lists.
Each lesson in the Science in History series also involves an activity of some kind.
Students might, for example, use vinegar to rust some steel wool, create condensation using a glass and a candle or explore the earth’s magnetic field using a compass and a basic circuit.
These activities serve to get students exploring the concepts they are learning in a more understandable, hands-on way that largely keeps things a lot more engaging and interesting than a simple textbook lecture.
Following each activity, the lessons dive into their results, getting students to evaluate their own observations and explaining the science behind what has happened.
At the end of each lesson, Science in History books all include a dedicated lesson review.
These are short questions or activities that are based on the key ideas or principles students have just learned and are divided by relative age, with simpler tasks provided for “younger” students and more complex and involved ones for the “oldest.”
A younger student may be tasked with answering some questions or restate an idea in their own words, while a presumably more seasoned and mature student might be asked to offer more insight, link previously learned concepts together or even do some research.
Our Thoughts on Science in History Lessons
On the whole, Science in History lessons are pretty straightforward and user friendly.
The casual style of writing is kind of fun and can make the program more engaging and feel more personal for the student, making the study of science a lot less intimidating for some students.
At the same time, it treats the science it teaches with the respect and importance that it deserves, exploring the ideas in a good amount of depth and detail and with all the proper terminology a rigorous science curriculum should provide.
The lessons are kept pretty short as well, adding to the overall approachability of the course, usually only around 3-5 pages long, so they shouldn’t be that arduous to go through, particularly for students whose attention tends to wander.
With the many activities they include, the lessons in the series are quite hands-on, creating a more multisensory learning environment that can suit a wider range of learning styles.
The activities are also integrated into each lesson, not kept separate or at the end of a lesson as with many other science curricula, and therefore students are afforded the opportunity to examine their results in greater depth, with key findings and concepts helpfully pointed out by Dr. Wile in the lesson text, which we feel can ultimately help foster a better understanding of the material.
In addition, we feel the multilevel review component of the series can be of great help to larger homeschooling families, as they allow multiple students of different ages (within a certain range, of course) to study from the same book, which can save considerable time, effort and money.
Similarly, it can also allow a parent of a single student to more easily scale the difficulty of the work required up or down, depending on the particular ability, interest and skill of the child.
On the downside, the Science in History lessons can be quite wordy at times, reminding us somewhat of other homeschool science programs we’ve looked at such as Apologia, with lots of detail-heavy text arranged in large blocks that are sporadically broken up by color illustrations.
As a result, it may be somewhat intimidating at first glance for some students, particularly younger ones or those with reading challenges.
A more formal high school level exploration of science, it is perhaps no surprise that Discovering Design lessons can be a bit different than Science in History.
As is typical of secondary-level science programs, each book in the series is centered around a particular subject in science, notably:
- Earth Science
- And Physics
Each book is divided into 16 chapters with about 180 hours of instruction broken up into a series of relatively short (~2-5 page) lessons, and includes an impressive (between 36 and 56, depending on the course) amount of hands-on experiments.
At a pace of two weeks per chapter on a five day a week schedule, each book covers a full year of science learning, although much obviously depends on the student and their preferred pace of learning.
Like Science in History, throughout the series the lessons follow a particular format.
Each chapter is divided into a number of shorter sections, the exact number of which can vary quite a bit between chapters, which generally form the basis of most lessons.
Students read through each section’s text, which serves to introduce and explore various subject-level science concepts, paying special attention to any formulas, charts or definitions that might be presented in the various color coded boxes that appear periodically throughout.
At times, there may also be links that students can type into a computer that will lead them to various interesting online videos that can help them explore what they’re learning a little more deeply.
There are also links to extra problem sets that students can use to get some extra practice in for each chapter.
At the end of each section, students answer a series of specific questions about the presented material (called a Comprehension Check), which can serve as a quick, yet more often than not thought-provoking, review that can help reinforce the learning a bit more.
After every few sections (about 1-5 times per chapter), a lesson will include a formal experiment that students will complete and then record the results in a lab notebook that they will personally make at the beginning of the year.
These experiments are a bit more advanced than those found in the previous course, intended as they are to be used for high school science credit, and tend to make use of a mixture of household material and specific science equipment, such as burners, slides, microscopes, beakers and so on.
These experiments are interesting and serve, in our opinion, quite well in demonstrating the various scientific principles quickly and without a lot of undue prep work or strenuous effort.
They are, on the whole, relatively familiar and solid high school science experiments and so while there’s nothing that would confuse, shock or alarm parents, students won’t be building lasers, robots or race cars either.
At the end of each chapter, students complete a cumulative chapter review, a series of short answer questions that can serve as good preparation for the chapter tests, which can be found in a separate test booklet.
Our Thoughts on Discovering Design Lessons
Overall, Discovering Design’s textbooks are very well laid out, with chapters slowly building on themselves to provide students with a thorough background in Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
The lessons are pretty straightforward and written with a very personable and casual writing style that make them quite easy for students to read through.
Unusually for a high school science textbook, the lessons are kept fairly short in this program, with each section rarely exceeding 5 pages in length (and often being only around 1-3) most students should be able to complete.a lesson in 45 minutes to an hour or so.
As a result, the daily workload shouldn’t be too intimidating to science-shy students or those who have a hard time staying focused for long periods of time.
We found the experiments to be pretty user friendly, as well.
Their instructions are very clearly and sequentially laid out in the section text, so many students should be able to complete most of them with a minimum of parental oversight (mainly for safety reasons), and they generally don’t take a lot of time to set up, complete or clean up, which is always a plus.
One thing we really appreciated about Discovering Design’s methodology is the fact that it never shies away from introducing or exploring the religious or ethical conundrums that can pop up now and again in the study of chemistry, biology or even earth science, such as cloning, evolution, stem cell research and so on.
Although the books are clear in their biblical worldview, they do provide a good overview of the different sides of each argument and alternative viewpoints before offering rebuttals rooted in strong Christian values.
As a result, we feel that the books can be a good way to hone a student’s critical thinking skills, broadening their understanding of the issues and controversies that the world of science can include, while still providing effective and firm apologetic counterarguments that should serve to ultimately strengthen a student’s faith in God.
That said, not every homeschool is necessarily a fan of such methods, preferring that their students either not delve into hot button issues on their own or do so using a single perspective, so this is something parents will need to consider based on their own beliefs and philosophies.
On the downside, much like Science in History, the casual and approachable writing style that Dr. Wile uses can make the texts a bit wordy and text heavy at times.
Although the need for illustration and pictures should be somewhat reduced by the high school level, having multiple blocks of information-rich text can still be a little intimidating to some students, such as those with difficulties in reading.
How Easy are Berean Builders Books to Learn From?
Ultimately, both Science in History and Discovering Design are pretty easy to use.
Both series are well laid out and written in a conversational tone that can make even more complex material easy to read through and understand.
This very straightforward and clear instructional style can be beneficial for busy homeschools, as it means that students who are sufficiently capable in reading and reading comprehension should be able to learn more independently.
Similarly, each chapter or unit’s lessons are very effective at gently and sequentially guiding parents and students through instruction, activity and review without the need for a lot of preparation or planning, making them very user friendly for a science course and ideal for new homeschoolers.
Parents should note, however, that although easy to read and learn from, Berean Builders still offers a rigorous approach to science education.
Students not only dive deeply into scientific concepts and mechanisms, but are frequently challenged to learn more about the individuals who discovered them (particularly with Science in History), the underlying reasoning and logic behind the science, and to think more deeply about different issues in science, faith-based or otherwise.
On the downside, however, as we’ve mentioned Berean Builders includes a great number of experiments in each of the books in either series (up to 56 in fact).
Although they do keep these fairly quick and easy to do, and while they are great for hands-on learners, the sheer number of them means that overall parents will spend a little more time prepping, setting up and cleaning up compared to a curriculum with fewer activities.
Pros and Cons of Berean Builders
Affordable and relatively compact
Neither Science in History nor Discovering Design really require a whole lot beyond the main textbooks and lab materials.
With no required experiment manuals, workbooks, teacher’s manuals or reference guides, there’s not a lot that parents need to purchase, organize and keep track of with Berean Builders.
The compactness of the curriculum design makes it easy to fit into a typical homeschool science budget, as well.
Approachable, conversational writing style
Dr. Wile uses a friendly and personable conversational writing style that is directed to the student, which can make reading through the lessons a lot more interesting for students compared to a traditional, formal and impersonal science textbook.
Thorough exploration of science
Both series in Berean Builders do an excellent job at teaching science.
Whether it’s elementary and middle school general science or subject-specific instruction in Earth science, biology, physics and chemistry, the books explore scientific concepts in an in-depth and comprehensive manner, encouraging students to think critically about what they’re learning and observing.
Strong Christian content
At the same time, while Berean provides students with a grounding in science, it is also a strongly Christian curriculum.
Not only does it include references to the bible, but the series as a whole strives to (and does so rather effectively, in our opinion) demonstrate the natural world and mechanisms as proof of divine influence, repeatedly connecting the science students learn to God and scripture.
While it never shies away from introducing and exploring all sides of various controversial issues in science, the books do put forth and emphasize strong and well-reasoned counter-arguments that should serve to ultimately strengthen a student’s faith and belief.
Lots of hands-on activities and experiments
Berean Builders includes far more experiments and activities than many other homeschool science programs out there, which can serve to make lessons more multisensory and help bring science concepts to life in a way that a standard textbook lecture simply can’t.
With each day’s lessons usually involving only a couple pages of reading, most lessons can usually be completed well under an hour or so, which is good news for students who get intimidated by science, who have trouble staying focused or who simply have very busy schedules.
Online support and resources
From extra practice work, to supplementary online videos, to recorded and live online classes, Berean Builders has a lot of support and resources available for students on its website that can really help bolster student learning.
Interesting blend of history and science (Science in History)
Rather than merely presenting its material as a series of interesting facts, Science in History introduces students to scientific principles alongside their relevant historical context, allowing students to learn more about the scientists who discovered them, as well as their society and, at times, even their faith.
This allows Science in History to stand out among elementary science programs as a blend of science and history learning.
Multilevel learning (Science in History)
Science in History also includes a variety of age-related activities that parents can choose from at the end of each lesson, allowing parents of students of multiple ages to make use of the same textbook but customize the learning to their individual needs a bit more effectively.
Can be text-heavy
Although they do include a lot of interesting and colorful illustrations, Berean Builders books tend to have a lot of unbroken, information-rich text on each page, which can be a little intimidating for some students.
Lots of experiments means more prep and set up overall
While the inclusion of a lot of experiments and activities in each course does mean that students will be able to do a lot of hands-on work, it also means that, on the whole, there will also be a lot more time required to prep, set up and clean up compared to some other programs.
Who is Berean Builders Ideal For?
Parents looking for a rigorous but Christian science curriculum
In both its series, Berean Builders offers students a thorough exploration of scientific concepts and principles, conveying the importance of critical analysis and observation as they do so.
At the same time, the program stresses the natural world as being proof of God’s plan and biblical truth, presenting strong and convincing apologetic arguments, and frequently connecting the learning to scripture.
Berean Builders includes a lot of activities and experiments that allow students to get their hands dirty doing science, rather than just reading about it.
In fact, with dozens of demonstrations and experiments in each book (in the case of Science of History, one per lesson), Berean Builders has more hands-on learning per course than many other science programs we’ve looked at.
Those looking for an approachable and friendly science textbook
Although it is a thorough exploration of science, Dr. Wile’s casual and personable writing style tends to make the learning a lot less intimidating and more enjoyable for a student than a standard science textbook.
Homeschools on a budget
With Berean Builders, there isn’t a whole lot that parents need to buy.
Most of the work can be done with just a single core textbook and a lab kit (and, optionally, a relatively inexpensive test book), which can be a money-saver.
For those really on a budget, the courses often provide a good deal of experiments that can be done using common household supplies, as well.
Students who do best with a lot of concept review
With frequent lesson reviews, comprehensive checks and chapter reviews, Berean Builders has a lot of opportunities for students to review the material they are learning, which can help students who tend to easily forget things or who get overwhelmed and can benefit from a refresher of a lesson’s main points.
Those with multiple students in the same general level of schooling (Science in History)
Science in History offers parents multilevel review activities that allow them to scale the challenge up or down based on the relative age of the students learning from it.
As a result, elementary students of multiple ages can feasibly learn from the same book at the same time, which can be a significant time- and money-saving feature.
Who is it Not Ideal For?
Those looking for short, to the point textbook-style lessons
Although the casual writing style can make Berean Builders more approachable and understandable for some students, others may prefer a more formal and concise presentation of fact.
Homeschools that want to steer clear of controversial issues
Although it ultimately emphasizes a strong biblical worldview, Berean Builders doesn’t really shy away from introducing different sides of hot button issues in science, such as evolution, in the name of broadening student understanding and fostering stronger critical thinking skills.
Some parents ultimately may not feel comfortable with this and may prefer a program that steers clear of such issues or approaches them with a single, Christian point of view.
Those looking for a secular or neutral science curriculum
Although it does explore different sides of scientific debates, Berean Builders is a strongly Christian science curriculum that makes frequent and direct mentions of God and scripture.
As such, it is unlikely to be ideal for those looking for a strictly secular or faith-neutral science curriculum.
Note: All prices correct as of writing, all prices in USD.
As we’ve mentioned, there isn’t generally a lot that parents need to buy with the Berean Builders series compared to other homeschool science programs.
Science in History
Students and parents will need to purchase the main book for each series, but also have the option of purchasing the very useful Helps and Hints booklet.
Although students are encouraged to make their own notebooks, the company also sells pre-formatted notebooks that parents can pick up as well.
Science in the Beginning – $44
Science in the Ancient World – $44
Science in the Scientific Revolution – $44
Science in the Age of Reason – $44
Science in the Industrial Age – $44
Science in the Atomic Age – $69
Helps and Hints – $5
Pre-formatted student notebooks – $19.95
Discovering Design Series
Discovering Design generally requires students to pick up the textbook and a course-specific lab kit.
There is also an optional text and answer book, and an audiobook recording of the textbook on USB.
Discovering Design with Earth Science – $59
Discovering Design with Biology – $59
Discovering Design with Chemistry – $59
Exploring Creation with Physics -$60
Textbooks – $10
USB Audiobook Key – $19
Earth Science – $70
Biology complete microscope kit – $259
Biology dissection kit – $50
Biology slide kit – $50
Chemistry – $70
As always, parents should check for the latest price for Berean Builders as well as any deals or offers that may exist.
Find Science in History
Find Discovering Design
Is It Worth the Price?
Berean Builders is an affordable Christian homeschool science option that we feel offers parents and students a great deal of value.
Both the Science in History and Discovering Design series offer an easy to use, thorough and comprehensive study of science that gets students to think deeply and more critically about the natural world.
To do so, the books employ an easy to understand and enjoyable conversational tone, as well as a wide array of interesting experiments that teach students to use the scientific method and approach questions systematically, as well as letting them get hands-on with their learning.
At the same time, Berean Builders manage to instill a strong, faith-based connection to science, even with its more difficult questions, directly linking observable phenomena to God and scripture and viewing science as a part of His divine plan.
It isn’t always easy for faith-based homeschools to find a high quality science curriculum that matches their values.
With a rigorous approach to science that is rooted in strong, Christian principles, an easy to read and easy to use format and lots of engaging experiments spread throughout, Berean Builders book can be a great way to help students develop strong science skills and strengthen their faith in the long run.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.
Jennifer Keenes is a writer and a new mom living in Florida. She studied education and, prior to becoming a freelance writer, worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She is a big fan of the beach, working out and homeschooling her two daughters.