Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Joy Hakim's The Story of Science Teacher's and Student's Quest Guide Review

Joy Hakim's History of Science is a series of well-written books that follows the story of science throughout history. Although the books by themselves are an excellent read, the Teacher's and Student's  Quest Guides combine with the books to make a complete science program.

The Teacher's Quest Guide is the meat of the program chock full of information, helps, and lesson plans to teach the science concepts introduced in The History of Science book. It divides the forty chapters of Newton at the Center into seven units. Each unit starts with an introduction for the teacher with background information, a materials list, and the National Science Education Standards covered. Next the unit divides five to seven chapters of The History of Science into seven lessons.

Each lesson starts with an introduction to the theme of the chapter with a quote from a scientist and a cartoon which visually expresses the theme. Underneath the theme the goals for the lesson are listed. Then comes the who, where, and when of the chapter. Also listed is the what of the chapter which is a list of vocabulary words.  Consider the Quotation follows.. This sections instructs students to read the theme quote and to rewrite the quote into their own words and also includes background information about the theme quote for the teacher. Next comes the Directed Reading section giving information to the teacher on the main ideas covered in the chapter. At this point the lessons vary in what comes next. But they all include at least one of the following and often more than one. Classwide Activities are activities meant to be completed as a class to demonstrate ideas presented in the reading. Cooperative Team Learning and You Be the Scientist are hands-on activities and labs that are meant to be completed in small groups or individually. These are introduced in the Teacher's Quest Guide, but the actual instructions for the activities are in the Student's Quest Guides. Next all the lessons have a conclusion which covers discussion points about the activities. Every lesson includes writing assignments in the form of a homework assignments. These assignments vary and include dialogue between two scientist, newspaper article memorializing scientists, further research about inventions, and many other ideas to cement the concepts with writing. After the homework assignment  Curriculum Links  list ideas to connect the concepts learned in The History of Science with what else was going on in the world during that same time. The different curriculum links are history, language arts, art, music, and geography, Two other curriculum links are a little different. The Science links share how the science concepts read about relate to science today. The Math links suggest projects which are useful in cementing math used in science.

After these seven lessons, a lesson is scheduled to prepare students for an assessment. Each unit gives at least three choices of assessments. Assessment suggestions run the gamat from pulling together a scene, creating a song or rap, writing an essay, creating a poster tracing the history of scientist's understanding of certain science concepts throughout history, creating a game, creating a science hall of fame to a traditional assessment which is included in every unit. The traditional assessment includes multiple choice and short answer questions along with essay questions. Of course, answers are included for the traditional assessments, but the information that should be covered in the other choices is also listed for the teacher.

At the end of each unit is an appendix. The appendix is full of images meant to copied for use in the classroom. It includes pictures of scientist with caption balloons, name of scientist,and the years he lived. There is one of these for most lessons. A few lessons have more than one. These are meant to be used during the Consider the Quote portion of the lesson. The caption balloons are there to fill in with the theme in the student's own words. Each chapter also has a full page science cartoon which shows the concept taught in each chapter in picture form. Next are the activity sheets needed to complete the Classwide Activities. Ballads covering the scientist and concepts taught in the units follow the activities sheets. Next is the information needed to review for the assessments. Last is the traditional assessment and the answers for the all of the assessments. 

The Teacher's Quest Guide ends with a Whole-Book Assessment Unit. This unit covers review of all the concepts taught throughout The Story of the History of Science and includes three different options for assessment.

The Student Quest Guide follows some of the format of the Teacher's Quest Guide. Each lesson starts with a Theme, Who, What, Where, When, Science cartoon, and a Picture of Scientist with caption balloon, After these introductions to the chapter, the Student Quest Guide includes all the lab sheets needed for the Cooperative Team Learning and the You Be the Scientist Labs.

This curriculum is written for the classroom, but I have found it to be a great fit for homeschooling. The many different activities fit all different learning styles. It has worked well with all of my children working together. This would work well as a core curriculum.  Of course the founding and discovery of science concepts are included, but if you choose to use all of the resources included in the Quest Guides this could work well to cover art, music, writing, research skills, and real life application of math.    If this is not your core curriculum, you can NOT do everything crammed into this curriculum!   About half of my children's Student's Quest Guides are empty.   That's okay!   They still do a ton of hands-on activities and labs.   I enjoy the Theme, Who, What, Where, and When sections.   I also adore the assessments.    I like to use the traditional assessments, but we also have utilized many of the alternative assessments.   My children took great joy in creating a conversation between the great minds of Aristotle, Galileo, and Copernicus.   That assessment suggestion had them researching each scientist, writing out dialogue, working together, and performing their parts while learning how these scientist differed in their beliefs about how the world worked.   My children's favorite part is the end of unit ballad.     With great gusto they have memorized each one.

I have always heard great acclaim for Joy Hakim's The Story of Science books.   But to be honest, until I found the Quest Guides, mine sat on the shelf untouched.    They included great stories;  I just didn't know what to do with them.    I didn't have enough science knowledge to make them into a science class.    I didn't understand Boyle's law and the historical events happening at the time enough to whip up a cool demonstration to illustrate it and  a lab to further cement  both the law and how it applies to science today.  And that is the brilliance of the Quest Guides.   They add the information I need to teach the science included in the wonderful stories told in The Story of Science books.  

I used Newton at the Center Quest Guides for this review.   Aristotle Leads the Way also has Quest Guides available.   Currently, Quest Guides are not available for the newest addition to the series,  Einstein Adds a New Dimension, but they are in development.    Quest Guides can be purchased through Smithsonian Publishing as well as other sources.  

Be sure to check out other reviews at Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-Up   




  1. What ages would this be most appropriate for? Thank you for the revie.

  2. I think this is appropriate for ages 12-14. If you read it aloud to your children, it could work for kids as young as 10.

  3. Do you need to get the teacher's guide as well as the student quest guide? I have one learner and think the teacher's guide might be more than we need. Could the student quest guide work as a self-directed curriculum? would we miss alot without the teacher's quest guide?

  4. You could use most of the Student Quest Guide without the Teachers Guide , but if I had to chose just one guide, I would use the Teachers Quest. Pick and choose what you use from it,

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  6. I've just been thinking about how to teach math and science in a historical way (following history). This looks great! I'm going to look into these books more. My kids are little, but I'll have to remember these books for the future. I'm so happy you linked this up to Trivium Tuesdays. Thank you! www.livingandlearningathome.com

  7. i'm using this book as a science textbook and am finding it rather fun. I think the age group for this book would be 12 onwards, if you want the students to really understand what's going on in the book.


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