Science for Beginners by Delos Fall was published in 1917 by World Book Company to fill the need for a science text that would allow students to engage in the scientific method unhindered, providing them with the tools to “acquire the habit of gaining information for themselves.” This very well describes a learning lifestyle that serves a student into and throughout his adult years.
…[T]eachers are coming to see that to get the best results the pupil must, whenever possible, gather his own material. When this point is conceded, it is readily agreed that the pupil may oftentimes study his materials to greater advantage in their natural environment. The inevitable conclusion to be drawn from all such reasoning is that in many cases the study of nature requires that the pupil should go out of doors and, under proper guidance, observe, examine, describe, reason upon, and finally draw his own conclusions concerning the matter in hand….
After he has exhausted his own resources in a given problem, it is the teacher’s part to contribute by supplementing and enriching the knowledge which has been obtained by the pupil.
The author admonishes the reader (the student to whom the book was written) to “make the observations, keep a notebook, and so learn to know by doing.” He then lays out a succinct plan to move the student in this direction, suggesting:
1. Make a schedule with a specific time set aside for studies.
2. Gather the needed the tools.
3. Learn the art of using a book, paying attention to chapter headings, emphasized words, illustrations, etc.
4. Think for yourself.
5. “Read in such a way as to get the real thought.”
6. State the problem or subject of study. “You are well on the way to knowledge when you know exactly what you want to know.”
7. “Never ask another person to answer a question if by thinking you can answer it for yourself; but never go without a necessary bit of knowledge that you can gain by asking a question.”
8. Experiment in order to find answers.
9. Remember the book is a guide and does not contain the answer; that you have to discover for yourself.
10. “Train your mind to notice what your eyes see; train your ears to hear and recognize sounds; train your hands to feel, for many times they are far better than your eyes.”
11. Observe nature.
12. Think about what you have learned and narrate. “In this way you will bring your ideas together and learn the answers to questions that naturally arise. Thus you will learn to apply your knowledge to the daily experiences of life and to use it in a practical way.”
Those familiar with the works of Charlotte Mason will recognize many of the preceding directions. And the book continues, chapter by chapter, to demonstrate how to learn using natural observation and the scientific method.
Yes, basic science is covered: properties of matter, elements, compounds, minerals, rocks, air, weather, motion, sound, heat, light, electricity and work, among other topics. But the reward of working through the book is more than simply the factual knowledge gained – it is the promise of a life-long learner.