Classical Science For The Logic Stage

Welcome to day 3 of our Science and Classical Education series featuring science author and classical educator, Paige Hudson. Catch up with the posts from Day 1 – Science and Classical Education and Day 2 – Classical Science For The Grammar Stage.


In yesterday’s post, I shared about grammar stage classical science.  Today I want to share with you the nuts and bolts of logic stage classical science.

What is a logic stage student?

A logic stage student can mean different things to different people.  So let me clear up the confusion by saying that I mean the years when your student has already mastered the basic facts and is beginning to apply them to learn new concepts.  These are the years when your student questions everything and has a strong desire to know why.  During the logic stage years your student is assaulting you with questions that begin with, “But, why…”.  This is what I mean when I say a logic stage student.

The logic stage typically begins with what traditional school defines as late elementary or middle school years.  It ends when the student starts being able to take what they know, analyze the why behind it and then begin to apply their conclusions to an unknown situation.  For some, this means they leave the logic stage by the end of 8th grade, for some they leave by the end of 9th grade and for some students this phase ends earlier or later than that.

I compare the logic stage students to bucket full of notes that needs to be organized and stored into a filing cabinet.  They want to know why things work the way they do.  So, when teaching science, you will be playing to these strengths while teaching them to make connections between the pieces of knowledge that they deposited during the grammar stage years.  You can also use science to work on the basic skills of outlining, critical thinking and reading comprehension at this stage.

What are your goals for logic stage classical science?

Simply put, your main goal is to train their brain to think analytically about the facts of science.  You want to capitalize on their need to know why and continue to feed them with information.  At the same time you want to familiarize them with the scientific method.  You will do this by teaching them how to organize and store information for later use.

How do you teach classical science to logic stage students?

A good logic stage classical science program should include the following*…

  1. Experiments:  Experiments are becoming more involved at this stage and your role is shifting from demonstrator to supervisor.  Your student will move into performing the experiments on their own during this stage and should be writing each experiment up, if they have not already been doing so.  Each week, they should run through the scientific method, with the exception of doing research.  At this point having to research for each and every lab would become cumbersome, so you will still need to introduce each experiment by sharing a bit of background information on the topic.  However, if possible, your student should do one science fair project per year, where they will walk through the entire scientific method from start to finish.  In a nutshell, the scientific method trains a brain to observe and examine before making a statement of fact.  I recently wrote a Science Corner post that shared more about the scientific method as well as a blank experiment write-up from.  If you have a science background, you can come up with the experiments on your own or if you don’t, you can still use one of the books by Janice VanCleave.  However, at this stage I would advise that you purchase a program with experiments that will support your classical science education goals.
  2. Reading & Discussion: Your student should be reading from an encyclopedia or textbook weekly.  The logic stage student still needs to work on building their knowledge base, but they also need to be discussing the material they are reading with you as this will help them to organize and store the information properly.  Your questions should help them to pull out the key pieces of information and should be comprehension style in nature, such as “How are plant and animal cells alike and how are they different?”.  By discussing what they have read, you are teaching them to think critically about the passage and modeling how to pick out the important facts. Unfortunately, this means that unless the program you use has comprehension questions, you will need to read the passages as well, so that you can formulate good questions.
  3. Outlining or Reports:  Depending on your writing goals, you will have your student outlining, writing a brief report or both each week.  Your discussion time has prepared them for their writing assignment because you spent time pulling out the important information that should be included in their outline or report.  Although writing is not the favorite thing for a logic stage student to do, it is important that you not skip this step.  Having to write out their thoughts in an organized manner helps your student to shape the same information in their brain.
  4. Sketches:  Your student should also be drawing a sketch of what they are studying.  This is another tool that will help them to solidify the information in their brain as well as give them a place to file it away in their mental filing cabinet.  It is important to know that a plant cell contains a cell wall, cell membrane, cytoplasm, vacuole, nucleus and chlorophyll, but remember that your goal is to help them to think critically about what they are learning.  It’s far better for them to have a mental picture of the parts of a plant cell and where they are.  The purpose of having  them draw a sketch each week is to give your student a more organized picture of the information they are studying.
  5. Timeline: In the logic stage the classical student will begin keeping a timeline of their own. They should be adding scientific discoveries to this timeline as well.  That way they can make connections between the lack of new scientific discoveries and the Dark Ages.  The timeline is another tool to help the logic stage student analyze and assimilate what they are learning.
  6. Memory Work:  For some memory work is optional at this stage, for some it is not.  Even though your logic stage student is mainly focusing on organizing and arranged their information, they still need to build their knowledge base.  Memory work is an effective way to add to their knowledge banks as well as to exercise their brain muscles.  Memory work at this stage should include lists of facts and/or vocabulary.

When you plan out your year of logic stage science, make sure that all 6 areas tie together.  In other words, if you do an experiment on how heat affects the storms on Jupiter’s surface, you should read about the planet and have your student outline what they have read or write a report on the planet.  Then you should have then sketch Jupiter with its major features and mark on a timeline when Jupiter was discovered and named.  If they haven’t memorized the planet order already, this would be a good time to do so.  When you tie all of the areas together, they reinforce one another and create a stronger file of knowledge in the mind of the logic stage student.

Before planning out your year of logic stage science, I also highly recommend reading The Well-trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.  The book will give you a fuller picture of classical education as well as the learning stages that your student will go through.  If you would like to see what the logic stage classical science education looks like, check out Elemental Science, which offers science curriculum with a classical bent.  Be sure to come back tomorrow to learn more about rhetoric stage classical science.

*Note: The information in this article was loosely based on ideas presented in a lecture entitled “Science in the Classical Curriculum” by Susan Wise Bauer as well as pp. 384-413 of The Well-trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.

Paige Hudson is an author and homeschooling mom.  She writes science curriculum for homeschoolers which you can view at the Elemental Science website.  She also has a passion for sharing the wonders of science, which is why she writes the bi-weekly Science Corner at Elemental Blogging. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and currently resides in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia with her husband and 2 children. 





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