Berean Builders and Apologia primary science: How do they compare?
Berean Builders and Apologia have both published elementary science series for homeschool that teach creation but using different approaches. Choosing which course to use depends on how your kids learn, whether they have specific interest areas, what and how much you want to cover over the course of a year, and your budget.
Berean Builders elementary science
Berean Builders’ elementary science course was piloted in Australia by volunteer homeschool mums who worked with Dr Wile giving feedback and suggestions for a clearly homeschool-friendly curriculum. He listened, and I think this is a big reason why this science course works so well. It was designed for homeschool families; serious science, for busy mums, dovetailed and without any fluff.
One of the best features of Berean Builders’ course is that it has work for three different learning levels. So, if you have several children you only need one science text for all of them. No need for separate texts or separate learning timeslots, and your children can all interact on the same topic, learning from each others’ input.
The questions in Berean Builders are designed in a way that if your child does not do well with directly being asked for an answer, they can narrate what they know and you can check for the facts needed from the questions and answers. The questions are not expecting true/false answers, but instead require an explanation so that you can gauge if your child has understood the concepts presented.
The other main feature of the Berean Builders series is that it teaches science as it happened through history. From the blurb: It concentrates mostly on what the scientists got right, but it does spend some time discussing what they got wrong, because even the mistakes that scientists make can sometimes advance our understanding of the natural world. Of course, when the students are taught something that is now known to be incorrect, they are made aware of this fact!
Berean Builders is an excellent accompaniment to your history program, and can be aligned with whatever period you are studying.
Apologia Exploring Creation series
Apologia’s elementary series is published as separate books, each focussing on a different topic: Botany, Astronomy, Anatomy, Zoology, Marine Biology, etc.
Apologia’s course is great if you have children who are interested in a particular area of science or you only want to focus on one area for the year. Each child can choose the topic that interests them. If you are having a busy year and want to cut down how much you want to think about, or do one area of science and do it really well, then this is a good choice.
Apologia’s notebooks are also popular with homeschool mums and children alike. The activities are varied and the work is all laid out ready to go with very little to no lesson preparation needed.
However, spending a whole year on one area of science can be a bit dull for some families, unless you fast track and get it done quicker. It can also be a big outlay financially if you buy different books for all your children. It really comes down to your kids’ interests and your budget.
At this rate, it may take you several years to get through the program so that your child gets a full-orbed primary science education.
Both Berean Builders and Apologia are Christian texts supporting the Creationist view of the origin of earth and life and both series only briefly touch on evolution in the primary grades.
Apologia’s elementary series teaches Creation but does not address the problems with evolution. This is a wise approach of teaching to establish a foundation of truth in young minds .
Whereas, Berean Builders’ goal is to train critical thinkers and its approach of learning science through history must, by virtue of the course’s design, address evolution when it comes up. For example, evolution is not addressed until the last book in the series Science in the Industrial Age, during the time of Charles Darwin (and others in that time period). Evolution is addressed in the problems with these scientists’ theories and science. Creation is supported and clearly taught in this series, and is the focus of the first book Science in the Beginning, which follows the days of creation.
What do they have in common?
Both Berean Builders and Apologia elementary science courses have the following features in common:
Accommodate multple ages – Berean Builders has three levels all in one text; Apologia in two levels addressed in the notebooks (Notebook; Junior Notebook).
Notebooks available – Berean Builders offers a free download or you can purchase a hard copy. Apologia – purchase only. The notebooks are not essential for either course.
Christian perspective – Both courses clearly teach that God is the creator.
Hands-on – Each lesson in the Berean Builders course is built around an experiment or activity. Apologia’s course includes experiments, activities, field trips, and writing.
Is a formal science program necessary for the primary grades?
Science is a key learning area that your state requires you to cover for your registration process. While it isn’t necessary to have a formal program, it certainly makes life easier for you and also makes reporting easier (think scope and sequence, etc, for planning and reporting).
So which should you choose?
Both homeschool science programs are excellent and well designed, so it all depends on your answers to these questions:
How many children do you have?
How much time do you want to spend on science each week for each child? Do you want to dovetail your lessons, thereby saving time?
How much detail do you need to give for your state registration report?
What is your budget? Will your younger children reuse the texts?
Will you be studying history as well?
Are your children interested in specific science disciplines? In which case they will be more motivated and likely to take charge of their learning, with less prodding from you.
Do your children need to cover multiple science areas in order to prepare for highschool, or to catch up from not having covered much at school? (This may apply to upper primary children.)
Which high school science program are you preparing for: Berean Builders or Apologia?
Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy Textbook (2nd Edition)
By Jeannie Fulbright / Apologia Educational Ministries