History of Science and Scientist Study

I have been pondering my need to increase the breadth of science I do with my children.  One, T11, shows a near obsession with it, and I do feel that I am somehow not providing enough learning opportunities in this area.  I have already posted about how I intend to have a Young Scientists at Play Lab for my preschoolers and how we will, as a family, do a year-long pond study of our village pond.  I have also posted about the introduction of Incr-Edible Science Labs especially for my eldest twin.  The fourth area of science I would like to include pertains to the history of science.

We will begin with a general study of the history of science, and will move more specifically onto the study of particular scientists and scientific theorems throughout the ages.  I am thinking of using our revisiting weeks to concentrate on this until we are up to the era we are currently studying.  Revisiting weeks for us are traditionally a time of going back to a period we have studied before and studying an area of it in greater depth.  This would mean, for example, we may revisit the Mayans and concentrate our studies for a week on Mayan astronomy, or we may revisit Ancient Greece and learn about Aristotle for a whole week, replicating, if possible, some of his experiments.  For the more general study of the history of science, I will probably squeeze this into a spare 30 minutes during a Monday (our science day).

Studying the history of science and scientists of the past has actually been a long time in coming.  I have been squirreling away resources for the last year or so, with the intention of possibly giving up Apologia altogether and focussing on the history of science, linking it up with our current history studies (the backbone of our school).  I’m not quite ready to give up Apologia altogether, and indeed may never be, but this seems to be a happy compromise for now!

The resources I intend to use for this are:

  • The Story of Science by Joy Hakim – A set of three books, we only have the first but will buy the others as required.  I will use these as a read aloud.  The first one is written beautifully so I know we will all enjoy its content.  I will read these each Monday:

  • Historia poster: Timeline of History of the World (scientific).  We have a pin board at the bottom of the stairs which I’ll pin this on.  The children will be looking at it numerous times throughout the day.

  • Milestones in Science (Thames and Cosmos).  We will probably use this for the study of specific scientists or discoveries during our revisiting weeks:

Gary and I saved for a long time to get this, but it looks perfect for what I have in mind

  • Readers Digest: The Adventure of Discoveries and Inventions- Gary’s parents bought this set for T11 Christmas and birthday present a couple of years ago.  He loves them, and I have always planned to use them for this purpose.  There are many books in the set spanning from the birth of time to present day.  We will use these during our revisiting weeks, when we need more information on a particular discovery or invention:

  • Eyewitness Great Scientists.  Again this will be used during our revisiting weeks when we study a particular scientist:

  • The Story of Science.  This is a fabulous DVD which the children will watch probably for half an hour on a Monday evening to cap off our day of science:

I quite like this website if I need further information.

Because this study will link science and history, I’m really quite excited!


  1. Great collection of books! I’ll have to look up that Story of Science DVD.

    I would also suggest that you look on Beautiful Feet Books’ site (bfbooks.com)…I bought their History of Science curriculum and it has some other great books that you might want to add to your list, but I can’t tell you what they are because they’re already packed. I know that “the new The Way Things Work” is one of them and a fun read.

  2. Here are some suggestions for biographies of scientists: Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Robert Cwiklik; Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick; and Galileo and the Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen. We have the Archimedes book (short, easily read in one sitting but has chapters for systematic reading, VERY understandable) and it is excellent. Since all three books were recommended in a group, I can only surmise that the other two are excellent as well.

      1. It is the first day of spring and the temps are horrible. The thermometer reads minus 23 Celsius but the windchill (how cold it actually feels, taking into consideration the wind which we have a lot of) is minus 38 Celsius. It is COLD, any way you look at it.

      2. I can’t even begin to imagine how cold that is! The coldest day EVER recorded in Scotland was -27 and last year the coldest was -17. We live in the south of England so temperatures rarely reach that low. I can’t even imagine -38. Oh my goodness!!

  3. BTW your blog is amazing and keeps me awake at night, hoping/wishing/praying I could replicate your lessons. I feel so inadequately prepared to teach science, but know that you have inspired me and continue to shine a light on what is possible. I took the gumdrops and goggled children’s photos in my head to bed with me to ponder last night!

    1. I LOVE this comment! It is so incredibly encouraging, thank you so much for taking the time to write it! Also, the idea of someone going to bed thinking of my goggled children is hysterical!!

  4. We have the first Joy Hakim book too. I intend to use it with Tiger in a few years’ time so I’m very glad to see that you’re going to use this series as part of your plan. Really good plan. I’ll be watching this space! 🙂

      1. I look forward to reading your experience with this series. It seems that this is the “textbook” of a curriculum that also has a separate Teacher’s Quest (teaching manual) and a Student Quest (workbook). The manual and workbook have mixed reviews on Amazon so I don’t know how useful they are, but my plan is to buy them anyway and use them for ideas, just like how we have been using The Story of the World series.

        I’m excited for you and T11. It sounds like you’re about to embark on a very rich science journey!

    1. We haven’t used enough of it to give it a considered opinion. What we have used has been great so far, but we are using it as and when the scientists come up in our history studies. Sorry, that’s probably no help at all!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.