NOEO Science – A Word From the Creator of This Curriculum, Randy Pritchard

Greetings from Noeo Science!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Noeo Science! You will find that this homeschool science curriculum is different from all others. Each year fills children with curiosity and excitement as they build a strong foundational knowledge of science. As a homeschooler myself, my goal in designing this curriculum is to help the children have so much fun that the learning comes naturally for them…and painlessly for you!
Noeo Science is variety-filled with a structure that can best be described as a balance between the classical method and the Charlotte Mason approach. We emphasize narration and summarization, vocabulary development, observation, and the scientific method. We do not promote rote memorization or the worksheet and test methodology for the sciences at this stage—we have prioritized hands-on experience.
We feel it is important to learn science from a variety of sources, using a variety of teaching techniques. Consequently, our curriculum does not use the traditional single textbook approach to science education. We think variety will encourage more interest in science, particularly with younger students. All of the books are carefully selected to allow children to discover the beauty, complexity, orderliness, and wonder of God’s design. While some written work is expected, many activities are included within the bright, colorful, and well-written books. Living book biographies of many important scientists are included to provide a practical perspective. Internet references for further research are also provided throughout the curriculum.

Curriculum Design

Just as creation is orderly and well organized, we believe that a good science curriculum should also follow an orderly design. Each year of the Noeo Science curriculum focuses on biology, chemistry, or physics. Each of these three foundational sciences is studied independently for an entire year rather than jumping randomly from one subject to another. The study of biology, chemistry, and physics is then repeated at a higher level and in more detail upon the completion of each three-year course of study. Subjects that overlap multiple science disciplines (such as geology, weather, and astronomy) are included at logical points within the three major science studies.
Our curriculum is designed on a four-day-per-week schedule. If you would prefer to do science twice weekly, then simply complete the first two days of scheduled readings and assignments on your first day, and the last two days of reading and assignments on your second day. Alternatively, you may wish to do all of the reading on the first day and the assignments and experiments on the second day. The key is to understand what works best for you and your children and to adjust the schedule as necessary. Our Instructor’s Guides—one for each year in each discipline—provide a logical, focused progression through the books and experiments. Multiple sources of information are used to teach each science topic, but you won’t need to spend your time searching for books or cross-checking indexes to make the curriculum flow. That work has been done for you!

Lab Notebooks

We provide reproducible sheets for creating science and lab notebooks for use in Noeo Science. The notebooks are an integral part of the curriculum, so feel free to modify these sheets and to tailor your expectations for each child. Your student will be asked to describe, sketch, or summarize what they learn from the reading assignments, or to complete a lab sheet for their experiments. This method will encourage concentration and attention to detail. In addition, the lab sheets are designed to help your student to apply the scientific method in all of their experiments.

Science Experiments

Science is not a spectator sport! The best way for your child to learn and truly comprehend science is by doing hands-on experiments and activities. We understand that finding high quality yet simple experiments is probably the most difficult part of science for most homeschool families We are pleased to say that the experiments in our curriculum will provide a strong science foundation without complicating your life (honest!). Many of our experiments are provided through a unique partnership with The Young Scientists Club. These experiment kits come complete with all of the items that are normally difficult to find, such as an affordable microscope, prepared slides, chemical reactions, magnets, and much more. The kits have won multiple awards for their high quality in recent years. We think you will be pleasantly surprised as your child progresses through these well-organized, fully-explained experiment kits while actually having fun learning science.

Dr. Randy Pritchard
Veterinarian, husband, father of two boys, and founder of Noeo Science

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All Perfectly Legal by Douglas Wilson

Many years ago I saw a cartoon that summed up our situation perfectly. A couple of explorers were standing in a huge cauldron, hands tied behind their backs, and cannibals were dancing around the pot, which was in its turn on top of the fire. One of the explorers was saying to the other one, “You know, the way their laws are structured, this is all perfectly legal.”

So this sums up our situation perfectly. Actually it sums up a number of them, but which one did I have in mind?

I was talking about education—government education. We have gotten to the point where virtually anything can be done to Christian kids in the government school system and, you guessed it, it is all “perfectly legal.” Your child can be given contraceptives without parental knowledge. Your child cannot be given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the school cafeteria, even with parental knowledge. Your children will be taught that life has no transcendental meaning and that God, if He exists, is irrelevant to what is being taught in the classroom. And what is being taught in the classroom routinely includes the pedophilic grooming that we call sex education classes. In short, K-12, a child will be marinated in every form of unbelief.

So the pressing question is this. Why do we put up with this?

If outrages could cause a mass exodus of Christians from the government school system, we all would have been gone many years ago. There has been no shortage of outrages. Some parents have pulled their kids out of the system, but not nearly enough.

The thing we need that will motivate parents to do what they are called to do is simply and solely a Christian view of the Lord Jesus. That is what we are missing. If we learn to confess that Jesus is Lord—which is the fundamental Christian confession—we will discover that this entails His lordship over all things. He is Lord, not only of Heaven, but also earth. He is Lord, not only of the galaxies, but also Lord of math tables, beer barrels, butter tubs, umbrellas, stacks of firewood, roly poly bugs, and anything else that might fit within the entire curriculum.

If we see Jesus rightly, we will see that He has commanded us through His Word, both Old Testament and New, to bring up the children of the covenant within the covenant. Teach the law of God to your children, God says, when you rise up, when you lie down, when you walk along the way (Dt. 6:4-9). This passage on covenant nurture is the same passage in which we are given the very greatest commandment in all Scripture. We are summoned to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our brains (Mark 12:30). This means, simply and solely, that believing children are required to be brought up in an environment dominated and controlled by the Word of God. It manifestly includes their education.

We get the same thing in the New Testament. Paul tells Christian fathers to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). The word rendered nurture there is paideia, and is not a simple common noun. Paul is requiring here the paideia of the Lord, which is to say, he is requiring that Christian children be brought up in a way that enculturates, insinuates, and enfolds them into a Christian civilization. That is what paideia means. The word education might serve as a translation, but the concept is far deeper and far more profound than mere education.

It is worth pointing out that when this command was first given, there was no Christian civilization. Instead of using that as an excuse, our forefathers did the obvious biblical thing, which was to build one. They didn’t have one to initiate their kids into (as Paul had required) so they built one. They became shipbuilders before they became sailors.

We, on the other hand, with tremendous resources around us on every hand, and a long legacy of Christian culture, are neglectful of our responsibilities in this because private Christian education is expensive. We might have to make adjustments.

So our kids are still in the government schools because the devil told us it would be “free.” That’s what the cannibals said too, dancing around the cauldron. No, they said, you don’t have to pay for the meal. You are the meal.

And the way they have it set up, you have no rights, and everything they are going to do is all “perfectly legal.”

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Christians & the Classics by Brian Phillips

       Louise Cowan, in her essay “The Necessity of the Classics”, begins by telling the story of Kagemusha, a film by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  In simple, short form, it is the story of a man who is about to be put to death for stealing, but his execution is stayed because the soldiers notice that he bears a remarkably close resemblance to their chief.  

       So, he becomes the chief’s understudy – learning his mannerisms, voice, walk, and personality.  Cowan also notes that he gradually takes on both the internal and external “dignity” of the leader.  When the chief dies, the beggar has become so skilled as an understudy that he is able to keep up the ruse for months.  

       Eventually, of course, the ruler’s death is discovered, and the understudy becomes the beggar once again.  Yet, Cowan notes:

“But a strange thing has happened: this pretender has developed a genuine sense of responsibility that cannot so lightly be dismissed. The burden of leadership, with its peculiar blend of selflessness and pride, has become his own. Despite his low station, he follows along after the troops in battle and stands at the last defending the banner of his defeated people, exposing himself to the enemy’s onslaughts when all others have fallen…Is this heroic gesture still part of the act? Where does it come from, this apparent greatness of soul that finally requires in a counterfeit role an authentic death? … through schooling in a tradition. Such magnanimity, we are shown, requires mi- mesis—imitation. To remake oneself in the image of something that calls to greatness demands a heroic tradition displaying heroic models.”

       Truly great literature has a similar effect on us.  It gives us models of virtue, wisdom, and goodness to imitate, as well as pictures of evil to avoid.  It calls us to true nobility of soul.

       As Christians, we have the particular blessing of being able to read classic literature with a more complete picture of the truth, goodness, and beauty demonstrated for us in these stories, while at the same time seeing God’s common grace at work even in the stories and lives of pagans.  We can see the flaws and perfections of Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, Beowulf, Dante, Hamlet, and more – learning from them both good and bad lessons that drive us to wisdom and virtue in Christ.  

       Scripture records for us the stories of saints and sinners gone before, stories of great triumph (Hebrews 11) and great fall (1st Corinthians 10:1-13).  Classic literature works in similar fashion, teaching us through the struggles, victories, and failures of the characters.  As Leland Ryken wrote, “Literature is built on a grand paradox: It is a make-believe world that nonetheless reminds us of real life and clarifies it for us.”  

       In An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis asks, “What then is the good of – what is even the defence for – occupying our hearts with stories of what never happened and entering vicariously into feelings which we should try to avoid having in our own person? Or of fixing our inner eye earnestly on things that can never exist?”  In self-reply, he offers, “The nearest I have yet got to an answer is that we seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than ourselves…We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own…We demand windows…In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” When we enter great stories, we are changed. We become different people.

         So, let us read deeply, widely, and prayerfully – knowing that our souls can be fed, warned, and shaped through the power of stories.

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Why Study Greek Myths?

Question: I have questions about the study of Greek myths. I find many of the stories disturbing, and my children do as well. Can you please help me understand why we should require classical students to study the Greek myths?

c085Our answer: This is a very, very good question, and the answer to it gets right at the heart of why we are promoting a classical Christian education movement, not just a Christian education movement.

Right now, Evangelicals often send their kids to public schools, praying that their kids survive, despite much of the current educational baloney. While we believe that the problems in public schools are so extensive that kids should not be there, we are not “fundamentalists” in the sense that we want to create retreatist enclaves: we still want kids to be culturally conversant with unbelievers and to have a knowledge of Western civilization and the context in which men like Paul, Luther, and C.S. Lewis wrote. This means knowing history from before 1776, literature from before Narnia, and theology from before Billy Graham.

We are not doing this because we like the Greek myths or because kids should adore the classics. They shouldn’t: Achilles in The Iliad pouts on the beaches of Troy for the majority of Homer’s epic. In The Aeneid, Aeneas gives colossally lame excuses for abandoning Dido after marrying her. The Greek myths include a lot of stories that are not for kids, as do Grimm’s Fairy Tales. You can see rape and gore in more mature tellings than ours, and we should rejoice that the Gospel has transformed the world. (On the other hand, many of the Greek myths are well told and have a fairy-tale quality, so they are not on the level of, say, Gilgamesh or Theogony).

Continue reading

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Aeneas the Failed Priest

Aeneas’ Religious Leadership and Roman Sacrificial Ritual in the Aeneid

by Samuel Bussey

Sam pasfoto       In the Aeneid, Virgil’s hero Aeneas faces numerous hardships and misfortunes before he can bring his gods to Latium and found a city.1 His goal is both political and religious in nature, and after the fall of Troy he becomes both the political and religious leader of his people.2 He is responsible for maintaining the pax deorum or peace of the gods, which for the Romans was a necessary prerequisite to enjoying the favour of the gods in their endeavours.3 The pax deorum is maintained by a strict adherence to ritual stoicheia, or temporary principles of religious training. These come in the form of taboos or restrictions for humanity, while humanity lives in the minority under guardians or stewards, in this case the Greco-Roman gods.4 Thus, from a Roman perspective, every misfortune they suffered could be traced back to a breach of these ritual principles. On numerous occasions, the misfortunes that befall the Trojans in the Aeneid are a direct result of Aeneas unintentionally violating the ritual stoicheia of Roman sacrifice. In the light of Roman religious practices, Aeneas’ religious leadership and his violations of Roman ritual stoicheia have important implications for our understanding of both the Aeneid and the Roman view of sacrifice. Continue reading

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Relativity and Poetic Knowledge

by Daniel Ryan, Physics teacher for Logos Online School

This year I decided teach something about Einstein’s theory of Relativity to my Physics class but didn’t know a thing about it. I had avoided Relativity because it sounded a bit like Relativism, the denial of absolute truth, and I wanted none of that in my science. When, however, I began to study its basic concepts, I found that Relativity fit nicely into my Christian beliefs about the limits of man’s knowledge and the importance of metaphor in epistemology.

One of the starting assumptions of Relativity is that all motion is relative. If I say a horse is moving, I probably mean that the horse is moving across the ground. If that horse were trotting on a large treadmill, he would still be moving in reference to the revolving belt, but not moving from the perspective of any observers. Motion is only meaningful if you have a frame of reference which puts the moving thing into a relationship with something else.

Press this a little further, though, and relative motion becomes a problem. 

256px-Elevator_gravity.svg

By derivative work: Pbroks13 (talk) Elevator_gravity2.png: Markus Poessel (Mapos) (Elevator_gravity2.png) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you wanted to describe the motion of the moon, you’d say it is moving around the earth. Very good. The earth is your reference point. But the earth, too, is moving, dragging the moon with it. From the perspective of the sun, the moon is making a loopy flower-like motion, which complicates moon’s motion considerably. Which frame of reference is the real one?

It gets worse. The sun, it turns out, is moving too, and this leaves the curious mind asking where it is all really moving. What is the true backdrop against which we can measure motion and be done with it? Continue reading

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Light of the Nations

by Amanda Ryan, Rhetoric teacher for Logos Online School

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 of The Classical Difference magazine, a publication of the ACCS.

Why classical?

EducereClassical Christian schools are popping up in various countries around the globe — Australia, Nigeria, and the Bahamas, to name a few. While the classical method is beginning to spread abroad, it has found good soil in Asia and is particularly taking root in Indonesia.

According to Maryani Budiman, the head of school at Cahaya Bangsa Classical School in Padalarang, Indonesia, the classical method challenges students to question and think critically, skills that are not emphasized within Indonesia’s current system of education. She says that Indonesia’s educational methods, in both public and private schools, are uniform at every level. “They do not really educate the students because the education stays the same.” The system of education in Asia is known for stressing rote learning and rigorous testing. Classroom culture is typified by the idea of the teacher pouring out knowledge and the student simply receiving it. “From elementary up to high school,” Maryani states, “we just stay in grammar school, in the grammar style of learning.” As Dorothy Sayers might describe it, these schools are stuck in the poll parroting stage of education. Continue reading

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We Always Need a Brother

by Douglas Wilson. This article was originally posted on www.desiringgod.org

si-globe

Modern men have a distinct tendency to think that we have to grapple with a number of things that are “new under the sun.” But from the fact that the ancient preacher had to make a point of refuting this peculiar idea (Ecclesiastes 1:9), it would seem that even this mistake is not new.

One of the assumptions we tend to make is that something called “technology” has somehow created this new thing called “distance learning,” and that we have to come up with some fancy new way of combating the new temptations that come with it. But these are not new temptations at all — they are ancient temptations. And if, as some of us suspect, the first few pages of Genesis were probably written by Adam (with Moses, of course, serving as editor), these temptations are almost literally as old as the hills.

Ephesians as Distance Learning

Think about it for a minute. In addition to the first pages of the Bible, to take another example at random, the book of Ephesians is a form of distance learning. The apostle Paul had certain thoughts in his mind, which he arranged to have recorded on parchment or papyrus. That letter was then entrusted to a courier or couriers, who utilized things like donkeys, ships, and wagons to cross a great distance of many miles so that the letter to the Ephesians might be received by them. Then someone unrolled it, stood up in the assembly, deciphered in his mind what was written, and read it aloud to the assembled. As he did so, the same thoughts that Paul had been thinking in a distant prison cell were duplicated in numerous minds throughout the room.

That is distance learning. Not only so, but that same book of Ephesians traverses the distance of centuries every time one of us sits down and reads it. That is greater distance learning. Continue reading

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Under Pressure

by Will Boyd

wbDid you know that your shoulders support 14.7 lbs per square inch of the earth’s atmosphere? That’s right! You are carrying a burden even when your backpack is in the closet. It rises from your shoulders and extends to the edge of the atmosphere 80 km above sea level.

This semester a team of intrepid budding scientists and I have been delving into the physical science of the magnificent sphere the good Lord has given us to care for and call home. We have been measuring our desks in cubits, peeling back the layers of science involved in the climate change debate, and most recently building our own aneroid and water barometers.

Barometers measure air pressure. Rather than air pressure only weighing us down through the force of gravity, air pressure pushes on you and me and all things on the earth in all directions equally. Thanks to this phenomenon it is fairly easy to build an aneroid thermometer. The air trapped under the latex balloon in the homemade barometer above will expand and contract proportionally to the air pressure in the room. The balloon expands and the pressure gauge (drinking straw with quilting pin glued to the end) drops. The balloon contracts and the pressure gauge goes up. So far this week the air pressure here has fluctuated by about 6 mm according to my aneroid barometer.

The water barometer functions under the same principle but uses water displacement to show changes in air pressure.

I love the barometer project because it gets students thinking about the tools of science and puts them in the driver’s seat where they collect real data without a pre-determined outcome. I wonder if we can measure air pressure in cubits?

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Plato’s Cave and Our Modern Education System

by Scott Postma

spI’m a product of the American public education system. Probably, you are too. Although my education was adequate to prepare me for an entry-level job in the modern world, it didn’t take long to realize I had missed something significant. At the time I couldn’t put it into words, but I realized my education had failed to prepare me for the more complex nuances of life because it had failed to educate my soul. It was years later when I was studying classics in seminary that I finally gained a category of thought for this experience and had a place in my mind in which I could contemplate this nebulous reality.

For me, what opened the door to this new ability to think about the purpose and method of education was Plato’s allegory of the cave. The allegory is a story in The Republic (written 350-400 years before Christ), and is fundamentally an analysis of human education—or more accurately, its imitation of a true education. Plato, through his protagonist, Socrates, is trying to determine what justice in the city looks like and whether or not what he discovers is actually a virtuous idea. Throughout The Republic, Socrates discourses with various interlocutors to work these matters out, and eventually concludes that justice in the city—and by proxy, in the human soul—is possible, but not probable. He explains the reason for this: there is a fundamental injustice in the nature of the human condition that cannot be resolved. His solution is a radical one that calls for a revolution to reeducate the youth by expelling everyone ten years old and up from the city.

In the allegory, Socrates describes human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling. Having had their legs and necks in bonds since childhood, these cave-dwellers have been forced to face a wall in which shadows of various artifacts are regularly cast from “a fire burning far above and behind them” (think of shadow puppets). The prisoners name the things they see as they go by and give one another honors for being the quickest to name them. Additionally, they hear echoes of the voices of the puppeteers who are behind a wall and suppose them to be the voices of the shadows they think are realities. This bizarre way of life is normal to those who know nothing different. Continue reading

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