By Meredith Kreigh
Two Bryan College professors are excited about new horizons as they launch Core Academy of Science.
When the Center for Origins Research (CORE) was notified of their cut in February, there was an initial panic, but they settled on a vision quickly, said Roger Sanders, assistant director of CORE and associate professor of science.
“We see a worsening of conflict between conservative Christians and science; this program aims to integrate the two. The goal is for Christians to better understand and appreciate science,” said Todd Wood, director of CORE and associate professor of science.
While at Bryan, CORE found that by the time students reached Sanders’ and Wood’s upper-level courses, they had already decided their outlook on science, Wood said. In large part, CORE was not able to influence younger students.
“God gave us the desire and excitement for this and so we followed it,” said Sanders.
Core Academy will be available to nearly anyone who can stream video, from middle school students to adults. Core Academy of Science hopes to reach Home-schooled students, teachers seeking to continue their learning and, in the future, dual-enrollment students.
In the fall semester, Core Academy will offer a Biology course and an Introduction to Origins course.
In future semesters, Physical Science, Earth Science and Chemistry courses will also be available.
Classes will consist of a video lesson and interaction with the teacher—who, for the time being, will mostly be Sanders. The teacher will supervise and interact with students and score assignments.
CORE will not give grades. Instead, at the end of the course, parents, or the students themselves, will receive a summary of scores for all of their assignments. It is then up to the teacher to assign a grade.
The course is designed so that is “cross-compatible,” as Wood said.
That is, it is accessible through several different curricula. Sanders is designing a course schedule that outlines chapters and concepts from science textbooks published by Bob Jones University, Apologia, A Beka Books and several others, including secular publishers.
“That way, families who have already invested in a certain curriculum do not have to purchase another textbook,” said Wood.
Since science is one of the more intimidating subjects for most families, Core Academy will allow the family to not have to teach it. Instead, they will have an actual, practicing scientist teaching, said Wood.
For any given yearlong course, three options are offered: The standard model schedules material for both the fall semester and the spring semester. The accelerated program offers a concentration of both semesters into one. Finally, there is a self-guided option, which gives the requirements and video, but eliminates the teacher interaction.
Beyond homeschool education, Core Academy will offer “short courses,” six lessons, each an hour long. These are largely marketed to teachers and professors for further development in order to keep their licenses, said Wood.
The first short course, starting in August, addresses the historical Adam debate, for which someone can sign up for free on their website. Future short courses include one exploring Smokey Mountain wildflowers and another concerning the Scopes Trial.
At this point, Core Academy is still working on this curriculum “map.” They are also going to start filming the video lessons in a couple of weeks and shoot pictures for the wildflower short course, in order to launch the program at the end of August.
Soon, Core Academy is beginning a capital campaign to raise the $25,000 they need in order to cover expenses for the website, video production, software and other operating costs for the first year, according to Wood.
Core Academy will operate out of CORE’s current offices just off of the Henning Museum. “Thankfully, they’re not going to try to pry us up,” said Sanders.
“President Livesay graciously donated the office space to us for the next year,” said Wood
“We basically have it until they need the space,” Sanders added.
According to Wood’s conservative projections, Core Academy will be self-sustaining within three years. During that time, they plan to bring new staff on board and, also, hire interns.
“If it is a question of whether I get a salary or we pay an intern, I will choose to pay the intern. The hands-on experience of doing research is way too important,” said Wood.
There are no entrance requirements for Core Academy programs. All they need is name and email address, then an individual adds the course to their cart and checks out.
Wood and Sanders remain adamant that they are not retiring to become high school teachers. Sanders just received a grant for research of plant ecology in Colorado and California.
“We are not just educators who stand and lecture. We keep active in the field and we keep moving forward,” said Wood.