Story of Science:
The Stories Make
the Science Come Alive!
The Story of Science is a new series of books written by Joy Hakim
(A History of US).
Read my review of A History of US
As you will read from others' reviews below, these books are written from a secular worldview and cover mostly the history of the science of Physics.
A distributor The Story of Science has graciously consented to send me these books to review. He is also sending a curriculum that has now been written to accompany the books making them even more homeschool friendly! I'm telling you this in order to let you know why this review is so short... once I've had a chance to look through this curriculum myself, I will come back to this page and expand it.
I am looking forward to receiving and reading this series so much because of the contagious enthusiasm with which one of the homeschooling moms I counsel recommended them to me. "I couldn't put them down!", she said. That is how well they are written. So I can't wait to see for myself!
Here is what I know about the The Story of Science...
- All three volumes are written for grades 5 and up... though my sources differed on this... some said grades 8 and up.
- Three more books are projected to be written by Ms. Hakim to complete the series - six books total.
- Curriculum has been written to accompany all of the books to date.
I've included some unedited customer reviews from Amazon below to help give some insight but please be advised... the viewpoints expressed in them are not necessarily shared by your hostess :)
The Story of Science: Volume One - Aristotle Leads the Way
This is the 'PRO' review:
By Kristi G., mom of Sage
When I began the homeschooling journey, I kept hearing about this wonderful set of United States history books by Joy Hakim. I know a lot of homeschoolers are very religious, and I really wanted secular, scientific educational materials. I was intrigued by the historical knowlege of these kids though, so I kept an open mind. I am so glad that I did.
That series is called The History of US. I found a cheap copy of the first book at a book sale, and thought I'd check it out. I was amazed at Joy Hakim's gift at story telling and approach to history. I found myself learning more than I EVER learned in school, OR in colllege US history for that matter. WOW. Not only was I learning and remembering it, I was loving it!
So it is no doubt that I RAN to the bookstore to order a copy of THIS new series, The Story of Science. I tore into it with the same enthusiasm that I have for new Harry Potter books, and new Anne Rice books- books I LOVE to read. That's the key to the big draw - Joy Hakim's writing is wonderfully entertaining.
Indeed, she has done it again! Older children and adults alike that love science will enjoy her unique approach to the material. The books have lavish illustrations and full cover photographs and graphics. She's included beautiful pictures by the great masters of art as well, recognizing that artists contributed much to science as we know it today.
This series is a journey through the history of man's thinking about science. Along the way, there's plenty of science to be learned, even for someone with a science degree, as well as mathmatical concepts and applications, all set against a backdrop of world history, and sprinkled with sparkling humor, which is a vital ingredient in making learning fun. There are some suggestions for experiements in the book as well, but they are there for for interest and enrichment.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that these books are textbooks; these books are treasures. I am pleased that I bought the hardcover editions and look forward to the other 3 volumes that are out. She plans 6 of the books in total for the series. These will be books that are read and re-read.
Here is the 'CON' review:
By CrimsonGirl "homeschooling mom"
As a homeschooler who follows the neo-Classical approach, I had high hopes that "The Story of Science" would be a valuable addition to our study of Ancient times. The first 21 chapters are a fascinating look at the scientific knowledge of ancient civilizations including the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, Ancient Chinese, and of course the Ancient Greeks. Ms. Hakim does an admirable job at explaining often complex topics in a comprehensible and entertaining way.
Unfortunately, the last 80 pages of the book covering the medieval period have a serious anti-Christian bias. For example, Ms. Hakim promotes the false story that St. Cyril had the Library of Alexandria burned, when in fact it was most likely done by a lawless mob of peasants that included both Christians and pagans. She also criticizes monastaries for "locking up" knowledge behind closed walls, when actually they were sanctuaries in a continent overrun by barbarians. She selectively quotes early Christians such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, Tertullian, Lactantius, and Cosmas to portray them as backward and anti-intellectual while portraying Islamic, Jewish, and Chinese scholars in a completely positive manner. The great Christian intellectuals Sts. Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas are only portrayed positively because Ms. Hakim considers them to be "rebels" against the Church.
I would give 5 stars to the portion of the book covering the Ancient times but only 1 star to the portion of the book covering the medieval period. My advice to Christian homeschoolers wishing to use this book would be to stop on page 189 and skip the remainder.
The Story of Scienc: Volume Two - Newton in the Center
The 'PRO' review:
By D. R. Patrick "Lovestoread"
My daughter is homeschooled, and after reading the entire History of US Series, I knew this science series would be a must. Honestly, I learned so much about US history than I ever learned in all my years of schooling through Ms. Hakim's books. Same with the "Story of Science" Series. Some may find the sidebars distracting, but we kind of made them into a separate lesson and learned a great deal of little-known facts. And it isn't only history or science - the author weaves a little bit of everything into these books in these sidebars. I really can't recommend her books enough. So far, they have been THE favorite resource in our four years of homeschooling!
The 'CON' review:
By DeputyHeadmistress "DHM"
I was sorely disappointed by the actual content- the text, the *words* which were supposed to communicate something of the glory and wonder of science to my children.
The book had promise- I was impressed with a my first glance in the bookstore. It's beautifully laid out- lovely pictures, interesting sidebars- but once I sat down and tried to read the text, those sidebars were horribly, awfully distracting. I don't know who chose the formatting, but it's guaranteed to interrupt any chain of thought a reader might have. At least one 'sidebar' interrupted the flow of a passage in midsentence, then the 'sidebar' continued on, taking up two entire pages before returning to the next word in the interrupted sentence!
It's like a commercial or a video game- distracting to the utmost. I also thought the writing was choppy, a little bit condescending, and very much designed to foster a sort of vacuous, uninformed arrogance in the student.
Ancient history, says a well educated homeschooling father I've read from time to time, should not be taught as 'how the peasants lived back then,' because we really aren't any smarter than those who went before us. We stand on their shoulders so we have more information at our fingertips, information they discovered, but we are not smarter than they. It is a natural tendency to think that we are 'it,' that nobody has thought the thoughts we have, figured out the things that we know, and that we have advanced beyond any society before us. This is a superficial understanding at best, and a broad study of history should go a long way toward correcting that. Unfortunately, Hakim's book encourages that attitude. She does seem to teach science history along the lines of 'how the peasants lived.'
At the beginning of her book she hubristically tells her students that when they finish reading her book they will know more than Isaac Newton. Since he invented Calculus, that's just a bizarre thing to say. She's feeding her readers a false image of what it means to 'know' and what knowledge is, and just who Isaac Newton really was. They will, perhaps, have more facts at their disposal, assuming they remember everything.
They will know more history, since much of what is in her book happened after Newton's death. But will they have more knowledge than Isaac Newton? That is highly doubtful, and it does not do students any favors to confuse knowledge with a handy list of data points.
The Story of Science: Volume Three - Einstein Adds a New Dimension
The 'PRO' reviews (there are as yet no 'CON' reviews for this volume):
By William R. Klemm -
Joy Hakim's book on modern physics is the most exciting science book I have read in my 45-plus years as a scientist. The book truly is, as she puts it, "written for young thinkers of all ages." She doesn't call it a "textbook," but the book not only is that, it is also the way all science textbooks should be written. To her, physics is not just a body of observations and theories; it is the process of discovery.
Although Einstein's thinking is the underlying centerpiece of the book, Hakim deftly traverses, without mathematics, the whole history of physics from electromagnetism, atomic structure and chemical bonding to special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes, quarks, supernovae, dark matter, dark energy, and more. This is a story-book journey of discovery that is described in terms of the people involved. Physics is brought to life in a most engaging way. On every page it seems, physics, the mother of all science, is embellished with side-bar stories about key discoveries, how they were made and the lives of the people who made them. Numerous color photographs adorn the pages throughout.
The two great and exciting present-day frontiers of scientific research are physics and neuroscience. Joy's book almost makes me wish, after a lifetime of being a neuroscientist, that I had started off in physics. Science is great fun, and this book proves it.
Bill Klemm, author of "Thank You Brain for All You Remember. What You Forgot Was My Fault" and "`Dillos. Roadkill on Extinction Highway?" (both available on Amazon.com)
By Mayone Woodbury (Seattle, WA United States)
This book is informative and interesting, not dry and/or stuffy like most science books. This is the 2nd or 3rd in the "Story of Science" series that I have purchased and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Joy Hakim not only writes about science, but she writes about how the world was when these scientists were making their discoveries and the struggles they had while doing so. Another great feature is that any word the reader might not know and understand is explained in the margins.
You may find The Story of Science here:
Christian Book Distributors Homeschool Division
The Homeschool Companion's aStore
Have you used this series yet? If you have, please tell us what you thought... just use the form below. Thanks for sharing!
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