Elements of Faith Vol. 1 discusses the first 50 elements of the periodic table. For each element the author has included the following sections: Data, Analysis, Reaction, Quick Quiz, and Response. The Data section contains several facts about the elements. Analysis typically contains a bit of the history of the discovery or uses of the element. It often relates the element to the Bible in some way. The Reaction section always includes scripture and is related back to the Analysis section. This is followed by a multiple choice Quick Quiz which covers mainly facts about the element. The final section is a Response to the Reaction section and includes a prayer. Also included in the book are several experiments, a glossary, the answers to the Quick Quizzes and a Periodic Table.
But what do the elements have to do with Biblical topics? That is what makes this book unique. The author has done a spectacular job of weaving these topics together. For example, Bromine is the "smelly" gas. The Analysis discusses the sense of smell and the sense of taste and their respective roles in chemical identification. The Reaction section is about the raising of Lazarus. This is related because Martha warned Jesus that "by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days" (John 11:39). The Quick Quiz includes questions on the origin of the word bromine, where bromine is found, what type of element it is, and who is the brother of Mary and Martha. Finally, the Response takes the Reaction section further and brings out that it was at dinner after the raising of Lazarus that Mary annointed Jesus' feet and the perfume she used also had a smell - but this time a pleasant one.
I requested this book to review from New Leaf Publishing Group. I was interested in the book partly because of the educational background of the author. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering and spent most of his career working in water treatment and environmental engineering. I also have a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering and my husband has worked in the environmental field with a specialty in water supply. He currently teaches chemistry. Chemistry is definitely a topic of interest to us!
Although this not a complete science course, I think it would make an excellent supplement for chemistry. It also would be suitable as Bible supplement for a science-minded student or could even be used in family devotions. (Especially in a chemistry loving family like ours!)
Disclosure: I received this book to review as a member of the Book Reviewers for New Leaf Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.
I have looked at the book Elements of Faith by Richard Duncan for at least a year, and always planned to get it when we hit high school Chemistry. Well, we're halfway through Chemistry, almost, and thanks to New Leaf Press and their review program, we are now having the opportunity to use this book.
Elements of Faith, Volume 1 takes a closer look at the first fifty elements on the periodic table. The main part of the book includes a two page spread for each of these elements. My son and I are working through these as a daily devotional, and we are loving it. Let's look at a random element, and I'll explain the basic format for each. I just opened the book, and hit Scandium. I like that it is obscure.
Each Element page spread includes the little periodic table info block... in this case, giving an atomic number of 21, telling me the symbol is "Sc" and that the atomic weight is 44.9559. There is an arrow pointing to its spot on a larger periodic table, so you have some context. And the title of the page gives a bit more information, and a Bible verse. In this case, that is: "SCANDIUM: 'A Little Does A Lot' 'A little leaven leavens the whole lump' (Gal. 5:9)."
There is a data box for each element that gives some brief descriptions and history of the element. Such as the fact that scandium is a silvery-white soft metal. (Of course, after doing earlier elements, we already knew scandium is a metal because of the -ium ending.) There is information on the discovery of scandium (by, you guessed it, a Scandinavian chemist) and when the existence was predicted. There is information about how the element is used.
The remainder of the first page is titled "Analysis" and this segment is the longest section for most of the elements. These vary a bit. For scandium, the discussion is mostly about metallurgy and the discoveries that are yet to be made. One aspect being that the properties of alloys are not always predictable. And the example being given in here has to do with adding a very small amount of scandium to aluminum and how that drastically changes the properties. Scandium-reinforced aluminum could revolutionize the aerospace industry.
On page 2, there is a section called "Reaction" which is the Biblical application... and now the title of this page comes into focus. The application section talks about a small amount of scandium making radical changes, just like a bit of leaven/yeast causing dramatic effects. A couple paragraphs go through various examples from the Bible, with a number of references (and full quotes) included.
I'll confess that I worried about this section, as I was pretty sure that he'd be really, really stretching to make some of these elements relate to the Bible. Maybe I haven't read enough yet (I've read about 20 of them, not the whole book, but I don't want to spoil my time with Connor by reading too far ahead. He and I have done about ten.) So far, though, the applications have all really made sense.
The next section is a "Quick Quiz" which is five fairly easy (usually) questions. We've encountered a couple that we had to go back to the text on the previous page to answer, but not many.
The final section for each element is the "Response" section. This is generally another Biblically based statement, and a short prayer. In this case, it has to do with the negative examples of leaven (Matthew 16:6-12 and 1 Corinthians 5:6) and the prayer is that we can be a good influence and a good representative.
My son could certainly read this on his own, but I am enjoying spending 10-15 minutes with him each morning and I don't think I'm going to want to give this up.
At the end of the book is a section with ten experiments involving some of the elements. Most are things we've done before... but certainly not all. As a supplement to high school chemistry, I don't see us making much use of these pages. If I end up using this with younger kids, though, we may. There are also answers to the quizzes and a glossary.
My son's synopsis (slight paraphrase): I like this book. Mr. Duncan does a great job of making the elements seem real to me, not just some little symbol on a chart. So far, the Analysis sections have been mostly about things I didn't know already, and all of that makes the elements seem important to understand. His Biblical applications have all been good and made me think. I think this is a great book, and I want Volume 2 when it comes out. I think all my siblings need to do this alongside their high school chemistry too.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.
Shortly after Elements of Faith arrived at our house, it disappeared. In some households, that's cause for alarm. In this household it means the book is a "hit". Numerous times I found my 12 year old, 9 year old and even my hubby smuggling this book off my shelf. When I finally got my turn to read it, I could see why. It's THAT good!
Cracking the book open, I was amazed to find a science devotional. I've never seen anything like it!!
Elements of Faith - Volume I covers the first 50 elements of the periodic table. Richard Duncan does a great job blending the sections together over each two-page spread covering name, symbol, atomic number and weight with a corresponding scripture verse.
Breaking down the pages even further:
The Data section - which includes facts about the element and its' discoverer.
The Analysis section - which includes where the element is naturally occurring and unique qualities of this element.
The Reaction section - which gives a biblical application. For example: Hydrogen = Living Water.
In addition is a Quick Quiz and finally a Response section where a real application is given and a prayer to pray.
Also included are 10 experiments that cover Hydrogen & Oxygen, Carbon & Helium, Boron, Fluorine & Calcium, Sodium & Chlorine, Calcium, Iron, Nickel, Copper, Zirconium.
This book is informative, educational and very well written. It could easily be used as a devotional on its' own OR alongside an upper-elementary/Middle school chemistry study. Scripture is used throughout to help the reader understand how the bible supports science.