Meeting the needs of Christian students in high school biology
The INTEGRATE team has been hard at work for the last year building a high school curriculum supplement to add in a faith component to secular science learning.
Editor’s Note: The BioLogos science/faith curriculum INTEGRATE, designed for Christian school teachers and home educators, launched in October 2020.
Last August we announced a new educational resource in the works here at BioLogos, a faith integration curriculum supplement for high school science. We knew there was interest from educators (we get many requests for curricula); we had a clear vision and a great team in place; and we had made some encouraging progress in developing the material. But boy, what a difference a year makes!
INTEGRATE is definitely bridging the science and faith gap in our curriculum. It is exactly what we need.
Over the 12 months the curriculum development team—which includes dedicated Christ-followers with expertise in biology, Bible, and science education, as well as experience in both classroom and homeschool settings—saw a quantum leap forward in the quality and scope of our resources. We are grateful for the many observations and suggestions of a dozen teachers and parents who participated in the 2018-2019 pilot program, and we look forward to even more improvements inspired by this year’s cohort of educators (see below to apply).
Here I want to share a little bit more about INTEGRATE and how educators can get involved at this phase of the project.
What is BioLogos INTEGRATE?
BioLogos INTEGRATE is a high school biology curriculum supplement that presents consensus science in conversation with biblical faith. Designed for classroom teachers and homeschool parents, INTEGRATE can be used alongside any standard high school biology curriculum, or even on its own. The content emphasizes virtues such as wonder, humility, and wisdom. It also addresses common questions and concerns related to evolution, creation care, and bioethics. INTEGRATE helps Christian young people develop a deeper love and stronger understanding of the world God has made and grow in their faith in Christ.
Why use INTEGRATE?
Many private Christian schools and homeschool families are adopting secular textbooks or online curricula in order to deliver a high-quality science education and prepare students for college. These materials, excellent as they often are, don’t include Christian perspectives, so parents and teachers must face the challenge of faith integration on their own.
This curriculum meets the needs of students who want to hold to their faith while pursuing cutting-edge science.
If you’re teaching biology, perhaps you have wondered, how can I help my students see connections between the science they’re learning and their Christian faith? How can I engage in meaningful discussions with them about topics like evolution, climate change, and gene editing? How can I help them grow in humility, perseverance, and other Christian virtues which are so desperately needed when we interact with people of different viewpoints? And how can I do all of this in alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards and student-centered teaching practices? INTEGRATE aims to facilitate exactly this kind of thoughtful instruction.
Do I have to use a particular biology curriculum?
Each INTEGRATE unit includes some biology content, but not enough to be considered a full biology curriculum. Because it covers the array of topics included in most biology courses, it can be flexibly paired with any biology curriculum. The modular design of each unit enables teachers to quickly scan for content that complements what they are teaching.
For those choosing a curriculum for the first time, we recommend checking out Miller and Levine’s Biology or Campbell’s Biology (AP), which are standard in many biology classrooms today.
What topics does INTEGRATE cover? Can a Bible teacher or physics teacher use it too?
The 15 units included with INTEGRATE are organized around the categories typically covered in a high school biology course (nature of science, ecology, cells, genetics, evolution, animals, and the human body). While each unit does contain a healthy dose of science, we focus most on helping students learn how to think faithfully.
Even though the overall focus is biology, there are entire units and parts of other units that extend to other areas of science as well as to biblical interpretation and theology. The first three units (“Faith and Science Foundations,” “Ways of Knowing,” and “Science as a Christian Vocation”) are broadly applicable across the natural sciences. “The Bible and Origins” could easily be taught by a Bible teacher. And each unit contains devotional content that invites spiritual growth. We expect that team-teaching between a science teacher and a Bible teacher will work well.
You want me to talk about WHAT?
BioLogos INTEGRATE includes teaching resources in several areas that are controversial for many Christians. These include climate change, genetic testing, gene editing, and evolution, including human evolution. We feel these topics are critical to include if educators are going to address the real questions and concerns of today’s young people as they study biology. Science is advancing quickly, and students need to be exposed to what is happening in a safe environment where they can ask questions and see how their faith informs their thoughts and convictions about these advances. We pray these Christian young people will get excited about their own potential to be thought leaders in STEM fields and in the church!
I have really enjoyed having a number of great discussions with [my daughter], prompted by discussion questions and points raised in the curriculum.
As we have developed content in controversial areas, we have sought to be sensitive in the following ways:
- We affirm core Christian doctrines and virtues and encourage biblical reflection throughout, often in conversation with parents, pastors, or others in the student’s faith community.
- We affirm areas of scientific consensus but identify where there are legitimate scientific questions remaining.
- We point out where Christians disagree and discuss other views with respect.
Of course, some of the topics included in the units quickly lead to questions! How to respond will require great discernment on the part of the teacher or parent. BioLogos can provide materials, but it is not our place to come down with positions on matters that are not scientifically established.
How can I join the pilot program?
If you are a science or Bible teacher or a homeschool parent, we would love for you to apply to the pilot program! The time commitment is anticipated to be 5-10 hours per unit (limit 2 units), and teaching can be done anytime during the academic year. Please indicate your interest by signing up on the INTEGRATE site (don’t forget to check the box!). You’ll receive more info and a free sample unit.
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At BioLogos, “gracious dialogue” means demonstrating the grace of Christ as we dialogue together about the tough issues of science and faith.
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