New Approaches to Communicating Science and Faith to Children

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INTRO BY CHRIS: Just yesterday, I overheard a conversation. A young mom was concerned that there aren’t more materials for young children that present truths about God and creation in a robust way that provides an alternative to the young-earth creationism prevalent in so many materials. And she’s not unique. At BioLogos, we often hear from young families looking for better resources and we point to some good ones here on our site. But there’s certainly a need for more. Thankfully a new project by our friends at The Faraday Institute focuses on providing new resources for the littlest ones among us. Today we get to hear from Lizzie Coyle, one of the project leaders.

Thanks to those involved with BioLogos and other related groups, the number of resources promoting and exploring positive science-faith interactions has soared over the past few decades. Materials abound to assist academics, students, church leaders, and other interested parties in exploring these important questions. In an exciting new initiative, The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion is seeking to continue this work by enriching the communication of science and faith to the younger members of our churches, schools, and society.

Now in its 10th year, The Faraday Institute is a well-respected academic research enterprise based at St Edmund's College, Cambridge, UK. The Institute conducts primary research and also seeks to provide effective and engaging communication regarding science and religion to the wider public. In addition to their thriving youth and schools outreach program, research conducted by the Institute and its associates has inspired the launch of their exciting new project: “New Approaches to Communicating Science and Faith to Children” led by Dr Denis Alexander and myself.

This project is motivated by research demonstrating that many young people in schools worldwide affirm an impression of conflict between science and religious faith by the age of 11. One of the greatest contributing factors appears to be the lack of access to materials and examples exploring and demonstrating a positive interaction between the two. Inspired by their own experiences in education and countless requests for materials from parents, teachers, and children’s workers, The Faraday Institute team investigated the availability of relevant and engaging resources for children. With a few notable exceptions, including BioLogos’ excellent website and attached materials, this research revealed a significant dearth of children’s resources contributing to a worldview friendly to both faith and robust science. The Faraday Institute’s new project, therefore, aims to promote positive science-faith engagement through various media materials for children in the age range of 2-12. The emphasis of this project will be on providing children with the critical tools that they need in order to form their own opinions about these important issues.

The first major stage of this project, occurring in November 2015, saw 35 experts in writing, publishing, illustrating, and producing digital and other creative media for children gather at a workshop with experts in developmental psychology and the field of science and religion. The day featured presentations from expert speakers as well as group discussions regarding ideas for new materials. The unique combination of experience and expertise represented by this group exemplifies the aim of the project to inform and transform the current market as well as to support the production of innovative and engaging new resources.

The continued development of the project will involve collaborative work towards the production of creative and engaging media outputs which communicate a positive attitude to science, faith, and their interaction to children between the ages of 2 and 12. The materials produced will enable and facilitate children in developing a balanced, informed, integrated worldview. They aim to encourage children to explore the important questions they encounter throughout life with an open mind. Through this project, The Faraday Institute seeks to provide children with important tools to explore, form, and discuss their own thoughts and opinions regarding science, faith, truth, evidence, and many other important matters.

For more information about the project please contact Lizzie Coyle at eec34@cam.ac.uk.

Notes

Citations

MLA

Coyle, Lizzie. "New Approaches to Communicating Science and Faith to Children"
https://biologos.org/. N.p., 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 June 2018.

APA

Coyle, L. (2016, March 18). New Approaches to Communicating Science and Faith to Children
Retrieved June 19, 2018, from /blogs/chris-stump-equipping-educators/new-approaches-to-communicating-science-and-faith-to-children

References & Credits

Supporting Research

The references listed below report results from a research program funded by the Templeton Foundation and carried out in UK secondary schools between 2010 and 2014. These research outputs underline the fact that by the time pupils reach secondary school, they often already see science and faith as occupying two distinct realms of epistemic space, if not seeing them in outright opposition.

2014

2013

2011

About the Author

Lizzie Coyle

Lizzie Coyle is Coordinator of the “New Approaches to Communicating Science and Faith to Children” Project. She is also the Youth and Schools Outreach Officer and a Research Assistant at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Lizzie holds a degree from Cambridge University specializing in Evolutionary and Behavioural Biology, Geology, and the History and Philosophy of Science and has worked at The Faraday Institute since her graduation in 2013. She is an experienced and passionate science-faith communicator and, having worked with children and young people for many years, she is particularly aware of the need to provide opportunities for young people to consider and discuss these ‘Big Questions.’ Lizzie regularly provides lessons, workshops, and talks on science and faith for children, young people, and students, and this project is the result of much collaborative discussion regarding the need for further resources in this area.

 

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