Bookshark releasing history of science curric for 8th grade

This looks interesting. It is a history/lit package that uses Joy Hakim’s Story of Science as a spine.

I have the three Story of Science books, and although I have only flipped through them to schedule them into our upcoming two years of world history, the parts I skimmed were interesting and give an in depth look at the development of scientific thought over the centuries and the major players and advances. I am told that understanding a history of science is something that a lot of kids lack by the time they get to college.

1 Like

This is true. All college students have studied biology (at least one year), most have also studied chemistry, and some have studied physics. All have studied some European and American history, but little if any attention is given to science (as vs medicine and technology, such as airplanes, telegraph, or atom bombs). Hardly any studied philosophy.

For the most part, any familiarity with the history of science comes from sidebars in science textbooks–which are often just wrong, such as those biology books that present Anton van Leeuwenhoek as the first microscopist, when in fact microscopes were being used before he was even born.

I have yet see any high-school level discussion of the history of science that accurately treats the history of science and religion, which is (IMO) the crucial part for our purposes as Christian educators. The only exceptions would be a few books designed for such students, but not for classroom use as far as I can tell.


If that gap remains impossible to adequately close at the high school level (as I think it would), perhaps it could at least be mitigated by the teachers becoming more “history-fluent” and integrating storied history into their regular science lectures and discussions.

To that end … I wonder what you or anybody else here thinks of Bill Bryson and his “Short History of Nearly Everything” (2003). A friend gave me the book and I’m finding it a delightful read, though I’ve already caught him repeating an old error that sagging old windows are evidence that glass is really a liquid. I used to teach that fascinating, but as it turns out imaginary factoid myself until I was set straight some years back.

Hopefully his tales of eccentric personalities through history have been more accurate because I’ve sure been eating those up.

It is kind of the premise of Joy Hakim’s series that history is full of fascinating stories. That is how she approaches the history of science. So yesterday we read about the Pythagoreans and their crazy little cult and along the way talked about how important the Pythagorean theory was. And it had a fun little discussion of how the discovery of irrational numbers shook the faith of Pythagoreans to such an extent that they tried to keep them secret. These are things I never learned in school.

It’s been said that there never was a story that couldn’t be improved with embellishment. The question could follow … are embellishments ever justified in the service of driving home important points? Or conversely, is a modern blanket distrust of embellishment justified?

The Pythagorean history sounds fascinating. The story of Hippasus’ martyrdom over irrational numbers is one of those fascinating, if murky, legends. What seems more sure (for those preoccupied with factuality) is that mathematics was at one time blurred with the occult. That alone is fascinating to ponder.

Most years I show my geometry class the proof of the irrationality of the square root of two, which is fairly straightforward to follow. The very fact that we use the word “irrational” for such things must itself be a testimony to some of those former mathematical polemics.