Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does your name mean?

2. What is your return policy?

3. Do you have a recommended sequence for science and math courses?

4. Is your curriculum suitable for a homeschool environment?

5. Our homeschool group meets only once per week? How can we implement your texts?

6. Do you use Wikipedia as a source?

7. Will you be doing a Biology text? When will that be out?

8. How will your Biology texts handle evolution?

9. We cannot use textbooks with the Christian faith in them. Do you have anything for us?

10. I see you do not have math textbooks. So where is the “math” in “Science & Math”?

11. Why do you provide “sample answers” to verbal questions instead of just the correct answer?

12. We like your Earth Science book, but our school believes in Young Earth Creationism. How can we use your Earth Science text that espouses an Old Earth?

13. What do you think about changing the sequence of Alg 1/Geometry/Alg 2 to putting Algebra 1 and 2 back to back, then Geometry, as in Alg 1/Alg 2/Geometry?

14. Is your material suitable for AP classes?

15. Should my student try to take AP classes in high school?

1. What does your name mean?

Novare (no-VAH-ray) is a latin word meaning “to renew” or “to begin again.” We selected this name because of our sense that science education in America is in bad shape and in need of renewal. Some of our ideas are refurbishments of traditional attitudes and methods, and some are new applications of proven, forward-thinking strategies.

2. What is your return policy?

Returned items must be received by our offices within 60 days to qualify for a refund. Items must be received in like-new condition, including especially soft cover books. Softcover books with bent corners cannot be resold and are not refundable. Therefore we strongly recommend having the items professionally packaged and insured. There is a 15% restocking fee on all returns. Electronic media such as CDs are not refundable if the packaging has been opened. Refunds will be issued once the books are received in perfect condition. Shipping charges are not refundable.

3. Do you have a recommended sequence for science and math courses?

Yes we do! See the chart in our Written Resources section. Also, for a full explanation of the science sequence we recommend, and why it makes so much sense, please read our September 2013 Newsletter.

4. Is your curriculum suitable for a homeschool environment?

Yes it is. But it may not feel like what you are used to.

Keep in mind that most science education is fundamentally broken in our country, including much that circulates in homeschool communities. As mentioned in our Textbook Philosophy, the United States falls further behind other western nations in science and math every time a ranking is published, college freshmen are increasingly unprepared for classes, and they often require remedial coursework before they can begin credit classes. To remedy this problem requires … [READ MORE].

5. Our homeschool group meets only once per week? How can we implement your texts?

We recommend that you do NOT use your weekly meeting time for lecturing; let the textbooks do that for you. They are thorough and lucid enough that students who give a close reading of the text will have all the information they need for the quizzes, tests, and exercises. Secondly, let the students do their exercises at home as well. Check their work for completion only, not accuracy. Then discuss their half-baked answers together in the group. Let students use this time to improve and correct their answers. Students will encounter this material twice and the exercises will be a group-sourced study tool. Use the rest of class time for 1) fielding additional questions, shoring up any lingering questions 2) conducting experiments 3) the weekly quiz (although parents can administer this at home and submit it to the teacher for grading) 4) working on lab reports or 5) other enhancement activities. We encourage lots of group activities or collaborative work during this time.

If you have follow up questions, please feel free to email info@novarescienceandmath.com.

6. [A paraphrased email from a customer] I saw on a review website that you use Wikipedia for some of your information. Isn’t it common knowledge that Wikipedia is highly inaccurate, not reliable or credible? Why would you use Wikipedia?

[Our response to this customer]

“Thank you for writing to raise your concerns about the references cited in my text Novare Physical Science. Since you raised several issues, this email will be rather lengthy. So here is a short summary of where I am going: First, the quote in handinhandhomeschool.com which you referenced is inaccurate, as I will explain. Second, most textbooks cite no references at all and textbook users are completely uninformed about textbook content sources. I cited a few—but certainly not all—sources for specific reasons. Finally, all of my texts have been reviewed by scientists and teachers with excellent credentials. You may be confident that my texts are both scientifically accurate and faithful to historic Christian belief…[READ MORE]

7. Will you be doing a biology text? When will that be out?

We have plans to produce middle school Life Science, General Biology for high school, as well as Microbiology and Anatomy/Physiology. As of Summer 2016, our biology text project is underway. We cannot promise a date of availability at this point, but it will probably not be before fall 2018. Rest assured that we want it published as eagerly as you do!

8. How will your biology books handle evolution?

Our mission is to provide premier science instruction methods and materials for Christian students grade 7-12th, to the glory of God. Excellence in Christian education cannot exist where passions and alarms have colored the study before it has even begun. A good education involves bringing students into the ongoing conversation of ideas, insisting on their mature engagement with them.

For this reason, Novare’s future biology texts (Life Science for middle school, and General Biology and Microbiology for high school) will include a complete presentation of evolutionary theory in a manner appropriate to the grade level of each text. Our texts will not cast aspersions or malign the intelligence or character of evolutionary theorists. Neither will they advocate in favor of the acceptance or rejection of evolution. They will present the current state of the scientific consensus as best it can be done at each level.

Novare Science & Math as a company does not take a position on evolution, and for a good reason. To explain why will take some space here. First a word about “theories.”

Evolution is a theoretical model, or simply ‘theory.’ Evolution is just like other theories such as The Atomic Model, Photosynthesis, Kinetic-Molecular Theory of Gases, and Relativity. A theory is a mental model that attempts to explain experimental data and phenomena seen in nature. They should never be spoken of as “true” or “false”. A theory is described as either “strong” or “weak” depending on how well it can explain the data and predict future experimental outcomes. If enough experiments are conducted that cannot be explained by the theory, that theory is weakened. Conversely, if experiments and data confirm the theory, then it is strengthened, but not “proven.” Theories are never “proven.” True and False are words that do not apply to theories. All we can say about the theory of evolution is, “is it a strong theory, or is it weak?” In other words, how well does it explain scientific evidence?

Still, a theory can be strong and people can still reject it (and vice versa. For example UFOs which many people accept with scant evidence). While we acknowledge that evolution is the mother of all debates between Evangelical Christianity and the scientific mainstream, our concern lies in advocating and facilitating the best educational practices in the Christian science classroom or home school. This means that students should, for starters, be presented with the concepts and mechanics of evolution for the sake of scientific literacy.

But because evolution reaches so far into Christian worldview concerns, there will necessarily need to be discussion on the worldview level. One way in which we hope to address this is to publish a Discussion Guide in the form of a supplementary booklet (tentatively called Teachers and Students Discussing Evolution). While the textbook will contain some interaction about worldview concerns, this resource will go much further. We envision it containing primary source readings, incisive discussion questions, and approaches to scientific, philosophical, and Biblical angles of the issue that will foster productive interaction and learning.

As discussed in our book Teaching Science so that Students Learn Science, students should have a safe place to bring their questions. In any school, there will be students who bring varying sides of the issue to class with them. In Economics, Government, and Bible courses, good educators present ideas in a neutral way for students to wrestle with rather than simply teach their own opinions. In the same way, when the day comes in the biology class to talk about evolution, educators should create a inviting learning environment, teaching students to interact respectfully with each other, presenting all sides of the issue with as much neutrality as possible. As in all subjects, and in life as an adult, an idea should stand or fall based on its own merits.

Will our textbooks be critical of evolution? Yes. Despite confident assertions to the contrary, evolution lacks consensus in the scientific community. Many non-Christian scientists and philosophers are not satisfied at all that evolution can explain everything we see. Also, there are many Christian researchers, organizations, and movements that hold a variety of opinions on the extent to which evolution plays a part in the origins of life. This all makes our task very complex. But like a dispassionate scientist, our text will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. We will likewise include as much information on the various positions as is reasonably possible in a survey course.

Finally, Christianity is a big tent. There is room for a variety of views on many secondary doctrines such as baptism, predestination, and eschatology. There is even room for difference of opinion on evolution. Many sincere Christians (indeed, the majority of Christians worldwide) accept evolution as at least part of the way God brought about the variety of life on earth. It is part of our communion as the people of God, united in Christ, that we respect differences of opinion on secondary issues.

9. We cannot use textbooks with the Christian faith in them. Do you have anything for us?

Novare Science & Math has a subsidiary imprint called Centripetal Press. The same quality science presentation and graphics with all religious references removed are published and sold through that channel. http://centripetalpress.comCP-Logo-150

Also, several of our resources do not make religious references including The Student Lab Report Handbook, Science for Every Teacher, Favorite Experiments in Physics and Physical Science and our two Chemistry Experiment manuals.

10. I see you do not have math textbooks. So where is the “math” in “Science & Math”?

We do have hopes of producing a line of math textbooks in the future with the same features of mastery and design that our science books have. In the meantime, the “math” appears integrated with the science texts, in occasional newsletter articles that deal with math, and in our consulting with schools to help them implement a mastery-based math program.

11. Why do you supply “sample answers” to verbal questions instead of just the correct answer on the resource CDs?

This is one thing that is very different about Novare materials from what teachers are used to. We only provide official answers to calculation questions on the Resource CDs. While it may seem a great inconvenience to teachers or graders, it is an essential aspect of mastery-learning.

One of the defunct study methods common among 6-12th grade science students today is a result of exercises and test questions that encourage students to memorize a “correct” answer and regurgitate it on demand. This happens with simple vocabulary definitions, fill-in-the-blank style questions, and other typical verbal questions that focus more on ease of grading than on student learning. The problem is, this is not real learning. It is the Cram-Pass-Forget Cycle. Students will quickly forget superficially memorized answers. Such a method designed for the teacher’s convenience. It is not designed to maximize the student’s learning opportunity.

How can educators address this?

What is needed is for students to work at it, to wrestle with the words like a blacksmith at a forge, to spend some time thinking about the answer that they put on their papers. They cannot be allowed to simply look up an answer, copy it from a friend, and so on.

Initially we did not even provide “sample answers” because of the potential for such a document to be treated as “the correct answers” and give students a too-easy resource that will lead them back to a cram-pass-forget method. But the outcry from graders and non-scientific teachers for some relief and help with grading has led us to develop the Sample Answers documents with a clear caveat on the first page:

We urge educators NOT to give students access to the Sample Answers document, at least not until students have wrestled to craft their own verbal answers.

But isn’t this inefficient? Isn’t it best for them to learn the correct answer from the outset?

No. Efficiency is not a good molder of the human mind. The best approach is for students to prepare their own half-baked answers at home, then bring them to class or the homeschool coop group. In the group, together they discuss their answers. Together they develop a list of better answers that is crowd-sourced, hammered out together in community, with appropriate guidance from the teacher.

What about the daily homework grade?

In the Novare mastery-learning paradigm, homework is only graded for completion, not accuracy, if even that. A teacher can do this quickly with a glance at each paper. When the students begin to realize that they are not receiving a grade for accuracy, the motivation to cram, steal, copy, or cheat is removed. (After about 9th grade, there should be NO grade for homework.) There is no more jumping through hoops to get a grade. There is only the work of learning to be done, and the document they prepare together in class is a study aid of material they have now encountered repeatedly. They arrive at good answers so they can perform on the quiz, not so they can get a good daily grade on homework.

Sound crazy? Outside the box? Read Teaching Science so that Students Learn Science for a full treatment of mastery-learning methods.

12. We like your Earth Science book, but our school believes in Young Earth Creationism. How can we use your Earth Science text that espouses an Old Earth?

The biblical interpretation on this question is discussed at length at this link. That is not the concern here.

The simple fact is, a Young Earth school that wants to expose their students to both sides of the age-of-the-earth debate, will have to supplement one side or the other. It can use one of the many Young Earth texts and supplement some old earth material. Or it can use Novare’s Old Earth text and supplement the Young Earth side.

In a Young Earth community or context, chances are students are already very much exposed to Young Earth arguments. So if such a school is going to supplement, it would be better to use a well-crafted, Christian, Old Earth text and supplement (if necessary) the Youth Earth side. Or the Young Earth school board can simply disavow the Old Earth material in the text and go right on using the book.

Many schools have a policy of not taking a stance on divisive issues such as predestination vs. freewill, speaking in tongues, end times prophecy, communion, baptism, the role of women in the church, church government etc. The age of the earth is a similar issue about which Christians of good will can disagree.

We suggest that it is better for your students to enter college or the adult world scientifically literate about mainstream scientific views, whether they agree or disagree with them. Give students access to what the “other side’s” arguments are. In the name of education. And let them hear it from an author that shares their commitment to the authority of scripture and to Jesus Christ as the Lord and Author of all creation.

13. What do you think about changing the sequence of Alg 1—Geometry—Alg 2 to putting Algebra 1 and 2 back to back, then Geometry, as in Alg 1—Alg 2—Geometry?

There are two problems with changing the traditional sequence. One is that since most schools follow the traditional sequence, students moving in and out of the school will not be in sync with the math courses at the schools they are coming from or going to. This is a practical issue. The other has more to do with child development: When geom occurs between the two algebras, most students are at a good place developmentally for studying geometry.

The only justification I have ever seen for changing this sequence to place the two algebra courses adjacent to one another is that students forget their Algebra 1 by the time they get to Alg 2 after a year in Geom. That does not seem to me to be a very good justification—it assumes there is nothing we can do to prevent students from forgetting their algebra! But Algebra 1 is too fundamental to forget. A superior approach, in my view, involves two components. First, teach Algebra according to mastery principles—lots of review problems on assessments so that students internalize basic concepts. Second, review algebra skills constantly throughout the geometry course, including on exams, so that during the geometry year students don’t forget their algebra.

14.Is your material suitable for AP classes?

Our physics and chemistry texts are suitable for AP classes designed by the College Board. Chemistry for Accelerated Students can be used with AP Chemistry, and Physics: Modeling Nature can be used with the AP Physics 1/2 curriculum. In each case, the text covers the entire AP curriculum with a small number of exceptions. (For example, in the case of AP Chemistry, our text does not address the topics of sigma and pi bonding.) Those considering AP courses should note two important points. First, AP courses require a great deal of planning and entail particular ways of organizing and emphasizing course material. Our texts do not address these particulars. Instructors are advised to undertake a training course administered by the College Board in order to be properly trained for conducting an AP course. Second, the AP curriculum for both these courses requires a significant laboratory component. The experiments books we supply for use with our chemistry and physics courses are not extensive enough to meet the demands of the AP curriculum. Instructors need to implement a laboratory program using a suitable set of experiments. Implementing such a program requires a substantial amount of time each week.

15.Should my student try to take AP classes in high school??

This is a thorny question and debate among educators about the merits of the AP program has been ongoing for well over a decade. One viewpoint is that the application process for college admission is fiercely competitive and becomes more so each year. Many students have a large number of AP courses on their transcripts, and to be competitive—particularly for students applying to more selective colleges—a student needs to have the same. The opposite view is that our contemporary college admission process has gotten out of control and that expecting students to undertake a large number of college-level courses in high school is insane. Further, this insanity becomes a process of teaching to and drilling for tests, rather than spending time having an enriching educational experience suitable for high school students.
We cannot prescribe which view is appropriate for your educational context. For some, particularly students who desire to study at one of the most prestigious universities, taking as many AP courses as possible may be an appropriate approach (although we have known many students who have been admitted to top universities without emphasizing AP courses in their high school careers). For others, the wiser choice may be to focus on deep understanding of core material, with enriching discussions that explore the meaning and application of core principles to various situations.