Posted tagged ‘creation’

Shormann Math is for Everyone

August 6, 2015

A Great Question

We recently received a great question about our new Shormann Algebra 1 course:

Are your courses best for mathy children, or can average students also complete them?

While “mathy” really isn’t a word, anyone with any teaching experience knows what this parent was talking about. Some students just “get” math quicker than others. They’re able to go farther and faster in math than most children their age. So, is Shormann Math mainly for these students, or is it more for students who are gifted in other, “non-mathy” areas?

An Illustration

The best answer is that Shormann Math is for everyone! To help me explain how, first take a look at this photo I shot a few months ago of a Hawaiian green sea turtle. The photo appears at the top of Shormann Algebra 2, Lesson 25. You’ll see what this has to do with answering the parent’s question shortly:

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 8.11.06 PM

Everyone loves sea turtles, right? I mean, do you know anyone who hates sea turtles? I don’t. There are some things in this photo that everyone can relate to, like beauty, design, color, and function, to name a few. There are also things that individuals gifted in certain areas would appreciate that others won’t. Photographers, for example, may be curious about what type of camera was used, resolution, lighting, etc. Everyone might notice how the magnified view of the eye is blurred, and composed of rows and columns of tiny squares. But only someone with a good knowledge of computers and/or digital photography could explain the “why” behind the tiny squares (called pixels).

Connecting Students to Their World and Their Creator

But what if your child is a future computer scientist, engineer, etc., and they just don’t know it yet? What if they, or you, haven’t already drawn the line between “mathy” and “non-mathy?” Well, Shormann Math is for you, too! Because everyone is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28), everyone is designed to be creative like Him, too. But while God can just create by speaking (John 1:1-5), we humans need tools. And mathematics is like a giant treasure chest of tools, waiting to be discovered and put to use.

But the primary focus of Shormann Math is not about math. It’s about relationship. It’s about using math to help a child discover more about God’s Word and His creation, and build their relationship with Christ.

If you study the greatest mathematicians in history, like we do in Shormann Math, you find that all their new mathematical discoveries were connected to their study of Creation. While not all of them acknowledged God, a lot of them did, and in doing so it allowed them to see farther and discover more than any of their predecessors. The rich Christian heritage of modern mathematics is not something to hide in the back of a dark closet, but, like a favorite painting, it should be placed in the right frame, with the right lighting, and set in a prominent place.

In a nutshell, here’s what Shormann Math is about:

Shormann Math is designed to connect students to their world and their Creator by using an incremental approach with continual review to teach 10 major math concepts from a Christian foundation.

But Does it Work?

But does this “incremental approach with continual review” work? Well, the results of our Shormann Algebra 1 beta-test say “yes!” Pioneered by the late John Saxon (1923-1996), his “incremental approach with continual review”  has achieved astounding results. The results of Saxon Math in a traditionally low-performing Dallas public school were highlighted in this 1990 interview on 60 Minutes.

If the 60 Minutes interview doesn’t convince you of the merits of John Saxon’s approach, then maybe this historic quote by President Ronald Reagan will:

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about that new math textbook. It’s by a fellow named John Saxon, that has average I.Q. students scoring above high I.Q. students and has Algebra I students who use this textbook doing better on tests than Algebra II students who use the traditional text…

(Remarks at a White House Reception for the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, July 29, 1983)

Even a former U.S. President saw the merits of a teaching method that could help the average student go farther in mathematics than they ever dreamed.

Scholars describe mathematics as “the language of science.” And what is a good way to learn a new language (or a sport, or an instrument)? Well, you learn some of the basics, practice for a while, and then learn some more. You use an “incremental approach with continual review!” And like a language, sport, or instrument, mathematics is not a passive, textbook-only activity. It’s an active, pencil and paper pursuit. The method is instrumental in making Shormann Math for everyone!

Click here if you want to learn more about Shormann Math, including pricing, sample lectures and homework, a detailed teacher’s guide, and more.

Jesus Christ, the Common Core of all DIVE courses

May 7, 2014

A Brief History of University

Late in the 12th Century, a phenomenon unique to Europe appeared, the university. University is actually a combination of two words, unity and diversity. Originally, universities were schools that owned no real estate, but were instead an association of teachers or students. Although not always theologically or scholarly accurate, what under girded the university was the unification of all subjects by an all-encompassing worldview. Christianity provided the unity that connected the diversity of courses offered.*

In other words, Jesus Christ was at the core of the worldview of original universities! Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, Christianity is no longer at the core of most educational systems. In the United States, the government’s new Common Core program has a godless, purposeless, evolutionary worldview at its core.

Who Interprets the Facts Matters

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), author of Essays on Christian Education, made the wise statement that, in this world, there exists a whole collection of facts. Would you rather have those facts interpreted to your child through a Christian or a non-Christian worldview?

For Christians, the answer should be simple. Jesus Christ is, or should be, the common core of all the subjects we teach our children. To the extent that we are able to, we should try to use curriculum taught from a Christian worldview. But that also doesn’t mean we need to fear books and courses that are taught from a non-Christian, or even anti-Christian worldview. We just need to train our children how to think critically about these things. If we teach them the Truth, they will be more capable of detecting false “philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2:8)

Pray that more Christian families will realize the problems of sending their children day after day to be taught in schools where Jesus Christ is not the common core. Pray that we can find new and creative ways to help those who, for various reasons, it would be extremely difficult or impossible to home school or attend a private Christian school. Pray for Christian families in countries where homeschooling and Christian schooling is illegal, that they will be able to help their children test everything they are learning, holding onto the good (I Thessalonians 5:21).

If you are interested in learning more about DIVE Math and Science courses, where Jesus Christ is the common core, click here.

*Paraphrased from Mathematics, is God Silent?, by James Nickel.

Journey to Novarupta Audio Adventure

January 25, 2014

Journey to Novarupta

By God’s grace, we are in the production phase for the new audio adventure, Journey to Novarupta! We thought a film by this title would be produced first, but Providence is guiding us in a different direction right now. We are so grateful to have Pat and Sandy Roy at the helm, with their 15+ years of experience producing radio dramas (Jonathan Park).

The audio adventure is based on the true stories of Dr. Robert Griggs 1915-1919 expeditions to the Novarupta volcano, coupled with two expeditions I led in 2009 and 2011.

Listen to the intro, as Dr. Griggs and his time are caught in the middle of a pumice storm, at night, while surrounded by thousands of steaming, toxic fumaroles: Journey To Novarupta Opening Scene

How to start a homeschool science co-op

February 15, 2013

Here’s a video I made about a typical day at my homeschool co-op science classes. I hope this video will encourage others to start a homeschool co-op in their town. I hope too that it will help skeptics see that Christians are not “anti-science”. And we aren’t against having fun while we do science either!

Novarupta documentary coming soon!

May 24, 2012

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Scripture tells us that about 4,500 years ago, the ground split open and the “fountains of the deep” erupted (Genesis 7:11), flooding the entire globe with water. Today, about 70% of the earth’s surface is still covered by water, averaging over 2 miles deep, and giving us a watery reminder of the year-long, global cataclysm.

One of the best ways to understand more about the global cataclysm described in Genesis is to study volcanic eruptions. And the bigger the eruption, the better! This is why Novarupta is so important. Latin for “New Eruption”, Novarupta burst forth for over 60 hours on June 6-8, 1912. The 3rd-largest eruption in recorded history, Novarupta caused tops and sides of mountains to collapse, deposited up to 700 feet of finely-layered ash in places, plus much, much more.

Since 2008, I’ve been studying Novarupta and the surrounding Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. I’ve been blessed with two opportunities to explore the area with family and friends, once in 2009 and again in 2011. I’ve also published a research paper on Novarupta in the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ 46(1), leave a comment if you would like a pdf copy).

During my explorations, I was able to collect a lot of photogeologic data, taking photos and videos of places only a handful of humans have ever visited. Wanting to share this footage with as many as possible, Providence led me to CreationWorks! The CreationWorks Media Team is made up of a group of 12 – 18 year olds whose goal is to share, “the truth of the Bible through the media, with an emphasis on Creation.”

So here’s what’s happening. I donated my footage to CreationWorks, and they are going to use it to make a film about Novarupta! This is their first film project (they have done some radio projects in the past), which they plan to enter in the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. But they need your help! They are hoping to raise $5,500 to cover expenses of producing and distributing.

Watch the Novarupta trailer

I think the story of Novarupta is worth telling! If you do, too, then please consider making a donation to the project. Click here to watch CreationWorks’ Novarupta trailer. I think you will see that they are off to a good start! To donate to the project, click here (or go to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and enter Novarupta in the search box).  And please pray that God world be glorified through this project. Thank you!

Spotted Dolphin

May 21, 2012

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The Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) is one of about 40 species currently classified in the family Delphinidae.

A spotted dolphin comes in for a close look at my camera.

Reaching lengths of 8 feet, spotted dolphins are usually smaller than Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and tend to travel in bigger groups, or pods, of 20 or more. Like most dolphins, spotted dolphins are very family-oriented, which brings up an interesting question. Because they normally tend to stick together as a family, dolphin pods are by nature reproductively isolated. And most biologists consider reproductive isolation to be the most important factor in contributing to diversification over time. But why are there only about 40 classified species of dolphins? Some say dolphins have been around for tens of millions of years, which seems like plenty of time to have more than 40 species develop on our watery planet.

Besides reproductive isolation, dolphins are classified as different species based on traits that humans consider different enough to distinguish one population from another. But compare the 40 or so “species” of dolphins to the 150-plus “breeds” of dogs currently registered by the American Kennel Club. All breeds of dogs are considered to be one “species”, Canis familiaris, all developed over the last 2000+ years. However, just like a laborador retriever can successfully breed with a golden retriever, so too a spotted dolphin can successfully breed with the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Yet we classify them as different species, placing spotted dolphins in genus Stenella and bottlenose in genus Tursiops!

The truth is, a lot of confusion exists regarding how to define a species. Much confusion is remedied though, when we think of dolphins as one big family, or baramin. “Baramin” is the Hebrew word for “kind”, and is used many times in Scripture to describe God’s creative acts.  Scripture is clear that their are different kinds of things, and that “all flesh is not the same flesh” (I Corinthians 15:39). Also, as Peter Leithart explains, the “The Bible unveils a God who gives enough and more than enough”, and we see this attribute revealed in His creation, too. We see one family of dolphins, which God gave “enough and more than enough” to adapt and diversify over time.

So few dolphin species, so little time

And speaking of time, that brings me back to the question of “why only 40 dolphin species?” With their natural tendency towards reproductive isolation, one might think that if the earth were as old as some say, we wouldn’t have dozens, we would have hundreds of dolphin species. I believe the fact that we don’t see much diversity is good evidence that the best interpretation of earth age is the one that lines up with the genealogies recorded in Scripture. It is not-so-common knowledge that research reveals both the genetic and geneaological trends in humans point to thousands, not millions or billions of years of earth history. It certainly seems the dolphin baramin displays a similar trend.

Dolphins, oil and gas, and Christian stewardship

Here are some video clips from a May 2012 trip into the Gulf of Mexico, about 30 miles SE of Freeport, TX.

I want you to consider everything you see in the video, not just the dolphins. Included are video clips of a pod of about 18-20 spotted dolphins.  But you’ll also see a clip showing massive schools of fishes surrounding an oil and gas production platform. Think about it; what you are seeing is a man-made structure that also serves as an artificial reef, providing food and shelter for giant schools of snapper, blue runners, etc. And the spotted dolphins have come to reap the fishy harvest! Some conclusions I hope you will draw are 1) the dolphins are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf, 2) the fish are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf, and 3) Humans are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf!

So, the next time you hear about the “evils of oil and gas”, or the “endangered marine mammals”, or “humans are destroying the planet”, remember this video! Followed properly, God’s dominion mandate for Christians in Genesis 1:26-28 will make our planet a more productive place, not just for mankind, but for all kinds. Only a fool would destroy the planet, but only a fool would overprotect it, too. God gave us an entire planet and then some to use, so let’s use it wisely!

Do you have a question or comment? Please post it below.

The Other Side of Novarupta

August 8, 2011

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For 60 hours on June 6-8, 1912, Novarupta volcano in Katmai National Park spewed a massive amount (3 cubic miles) of magma out its vent, causing the biggest eruption of the 20th and 21st (so far) centuries. In 2009, myself and some other adventurers traveled to the site of the Novarupta lava dome and surrounding Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. You can watch a YouTube video of our adventure here:

What most visitors to Katmai National Park see is what we saw in 2009, although only a few dozen adventurers hike out to Novarupta. However, there is another side to Novarupta, that few have ever seen, and in 2011 we set out to explore this mysterious place.

The explosion of Novarupta was heard over 750 miles away in Juneau, AK! When Novarupta blew, a magma chamber under Mount Katmai drained, leaving a void that caused the top of Mt. Katmai to collapse. This was about 1 cubic mile of material that fell over 1,000 feet into the void. With cataclysms of such incredible magnitude occurring in such a short period, it is not hard to understand that entire mountains were shaking and falling apart. And that is what is in the image below, the jagged leftovers of a huge piece of Noisy Mountain that came sliding down into the valley, and was later cut through by the Katmai River.  Click on the image to enlarge, and note the conical piles which are characteristic of landslide debris.

Katmai River cuts through a landslide from Noisy Mountain. Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

That’s all for now, more will be coming soon of this amazing part of God’s creation!