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Significant Digits and Christianity

September 03, 2019
By Hannah VanMaanen, former CCS teacher

Repost from a former CCHS Science teacher.


“There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.” - CS Lewis

In chemistry, we investigated and experimented with the idea of significant digits in measurements and calculations. “Sig figs”, as we like to call them, are hard at first: a majority of students have never even heard of the term, and the rules seem random and arbitrary. If you are wondering what these sig figs are, ask a chemistry student or see this link.

For the first day or two, students are caught up in the details of zeros, right answers, and what all this math has to do with chemistry. As we work through more examples and use the rules in a lab, students feel much more comfortable with the idea of sig figs. It was then that I asked students this question: “How do significant digits make you a better Christian?”

After the initial blank stares, we really dug into what it means to do science Christianly. Many students responded that using significant digits helps us appreciate God more, and I hope that is true for all students at Calvin! But I also hope it doesn’t stop there. If these students go through a year of science and are only able to say that they can appreciate God’s creation more, I won’t be disappointed, but I will feel like they missed something important and practical.

Students all around the world in chemistry classes are learning about significant digits, so why learn about it at Calvin? What makes it different? Students knew they were there to learn chemistry from a Christian perspective, but they didn’t really grasp how we actually do that on a daily basis. What does a Christian perspective look like in science?

Science done Christianly has many aspects, but the top one, as identified by many students, was quality. Christians need to do really, REALLY good science. God calls us to work at whatever we do for His glory, and applying that calling to science yields only our best work. Our fallen natures will not allow for poor quality science to be eradicated completely, but that we work with all our strength to move towards scientifically sound practices.

Christian science also requires science literate students. If our students graduate Calvin without a proper introduction to various parts of science, like significant digits, we’ve done our students and the name of Christianity a disservice. In order to participate in the fields that God calls us to redeem, we need to know how to talk the talk and walk the walk. We as Christians shouldn’t stand outside the realm of science and hope for it to get better. We need to get in the middle of science and be the change we want to see.

That brings me to the third aspect of Christian science. In “walking the walk”, our students walk should be different than other scientists. A strong work ethic led in honesty and respect for other people, the data, and the creation should characterize our Calvin Christian alumni. A lab that values each member of the team and treats the materials as the handiwork of God reflects Christian principles. Hypocrisy is easy to spot in people that claim to hold themselves to a higher standard and act contrary to that. The scientific world is ladened with false data, competitive moves that cut others down, and wasteful use of resources. God calls His people to be redeeming agents in that messed-up world, and only young people with strong standing in their character, high standards, and intentional graciousness will be able to shine the light of Jesus in this realm.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, humans have been notorious for falling short of our God-given callings. This is arguably the most important area for Christian scientists to witness to others: grace. Our students have the opportunity to show the grace and love of Jesus in a world that rarely feels it. They can be the coworker that shows genuine interest in each person. They can be the advocate of honesty and justice in the lab. They have the chance to share Jesus in the most unexpected places, and what greater calling and blessing is that? Pray that God strengthens our students to practice that very conduct now and everyday at Calvin Christian.

How Parents Can Prepare for Back to School Time

August 02, 2019
By By: Janelle Cox

Back to school time is always a big transition, not only for children but for parents.

While children are filled with excitement and first-day jitters, parents are filled with thoughts of “Am I prepared enough?” To help eliminate these thoughts, and help you and your child prepare for the new school year, all you need is a little organization and forethought. Here are 10 back to school tips to kick-start the new year and get you prepared for a fresh start.

1. Get back into your sleep routine. To help eradicate those stressful school mornings, set up a regular bedtime and morning time routine to help prepare your child for school. Begin your usual school sleep routine about a week or so before school starts.

2. Shop for school supplies together. To get your child excited about starting a new grade, shop for supplies together. Allow them to pick out their own backpack, lunchbox, etc. This is a great way to give them a little bit of responsibility too!

3. Re-establish school routines. Have your child practice getting back into the rhythm of their daily school routine. You can do this by having them wake up at the same time every day, and eat around the same time they would at school. About a week or so before school starts, plan a few outside activities where your child will have to leave and come home around the same time they would if they were in school. This will help them be rested and ready for the big day.

4. Set up a homework station. Sit down with your child and together designate a time and place where he can do his homework each day. This can be somewhere quiet like in the den, or even in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner. Make sure to choose a time where you are available in case your child needs your help.

5. Prepare for the unexpected. Working parents know that it can be difficult to find a sitter when your child is sick. Before school even begins, it’s a good idea to have a sitter already lined up in case you get that phone call home from the nurse saying your child is ill.

6. Make an after-school game plan. Make a plan for where your child will go after school lets out for the day. Depending upon the age of your child, figure out if they will go to a neighbor’s house, an afterschool program, or be allowed to stay home by themselves. This will help eliminate any confusion during the first few weeks.

7. Turn off the TV and video games. For a lot of children summertime is filled with endless video games and TV programs. Children are usually in shock when they begin school and realize that six hours of their day is going to spent learning and not playing games and watching TV. Ease your child into the learning process by turning off the electrics and encouraging them to read or play quietly.

8. Review school material and information. For most parents, schools send home a packet with a ton of information regarding their child’s new teacher, important dates to remember, emergency forms, and transportation routines. Make sure that you read through this information carefully, and mark down all important dates on your calendar.

9. Get organized. The best way to prepare for back to school time is to be organized. With school comes a massive amount of paperwork which can consume your household. Designate a spot in your house for homework, permission slips, and any other school-related papers. This can help eliminate all of that paper clutter and make your life less stressful.

10. Get your child’s yearly checkup. School and germs go hand in hand, so it’s best to get your child’s yearly checkup before school even starts. Get any required vaccinations and ask your pediatrician the best ways your child can stay healthy throughout the school year.

Through preparation and organization, you can ensure that your child will have a smooth transition to the start of the new school year. By doing so, you and your child can enjoy the rest of your summer break.
How do you prepare your child for going back to school? Share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.


This post was shared from

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators. 

Creative Summer Learning Ideas

June 25, 2019
By Samantha Cleaver

There's no getting around it:  Over the summer months, our students can lose up to 60% of the math and reading skills that they learned during the year. 

Summer Math Activities


Help students maintain their math skills and keep them thinking in numbers all summer long.

For Grades K–3:

 What can you buy for $5 at the corner store? From the ice cream truck? In a hardware store? At the beach?
Change it up: Start collecting change in a jar on the first day of summer. On the last day, estimate your change, count it, and plan a special purchase.
Summer patterns: Create patterns using summer items (popsicle sticks, shells, flowers). Or, draw patterns in the sand or dirt using a stick or your hands. See how long you can carry out your pattern — along the length of the sandbox, or across the grass.
Napkin fractions: Fold paper towels or napkins into large and small fractions, from one-half to 1/16. Use markers to label and decorate the different fractions.
Design hunt: Keep an eye out for shapes, patterns, and designs when you’re out and about. You never know what you’ll find in the architecture at the airport, the shopping mall, or even the grocery store.
100% delicious: Use ice cream to make fraction sundaes. Can you make an ice cream sundae that is one-half vanilla and one-half chocolate? What about one-third chocolate, one-third vanilla, and one-third strawberry? Can you cover a scoop of ice cream with one-quarter each nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs, and gummy bears? Or can you eat a bite of ice cream that is one-half chocolate, one-half vanilla? For older children, calculate the percentage of each ice cream flavor in the sundae.

For Grades 4–8:

Record-breakers: Use a stopwatch to time yourself running, roller blading, swimming, or biking. Then try to beat your time. Be sure to keep the distance you’re moving the same for each trial. Graph the results. (You may need a partner for this.)
Where will you be? Using a map, calculate where you will you be if you travel 20, 50, 100, or 1,000 miles from home.
How many ways? As you’re exploring your neighborhood during the summer, how many routes can you take to the school, the grocery store, the mall, or your friend’s house? The catch: No backtracking, and you must take a new route each time.
Let’s eat: Prepare a meal or dish for the family. Before you go to the supermarket, find a recipe, write what you need and how much. At the supermarket, choose the best-priced option.

Summer Reading Activities

These ideas will keep kids engaged in reading, writing, and thinking creatively even on the hottest days.

Water writer: Using a pail of water and a brush, have kids write words on the blacktop or sidewalk.
Sell summer: Tell kids: Try a new product or activity and write about it. How would you describe it? Would you recommend it? Create an advertisement to sell it to others.
Plan a trip: Have kids use the Internet, travel guidebooks, brochures, and maps to plan a dream day, weekend, week, or month-long trip.
Summer sleuth: Have kids follow a story in a newspaper during the summer, or investigate a local story (e.g., an upcoming fair). Tell kids: Write about the event as it unfolds so that you have it documented from start to finish.
Play it: Take an adventure book with a clear plot (The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.) and invent a board game based on it.
Comic strip: Write a comic strip about a fictional character or yourself. See how long you can keep the strip going. Read classic comics for inspiration.

Summer Science Fun

Summer is the perfect time for children to explore their extracurricular interests, like science. Here are some activities that will have children hypothesizing all the way to September.

Map the weather: Keep a running log of the weather. Include temperature, humidity, clouds, precipitation, wind, air pressure. Can you predict what the weather will be tomorrow?
Invent a recipe for a summer drink and share it with your friends. For example, the Citrus Sizzler: 1/2 cup Sprite, 1/2 cup pineapple juice, 1 spritz lime juice.
Museum gallery: Collect pinecones, rocks, shells, or other natural objects to organize, categorize, and label. Present your own natural history museum.
Hot-weather inventor: Design an invention that you can use during summer. Some ideas: sunglasses that change color from red to yellow to blue, or a new beach toy.
Answer a question: How long does it take an ice cube to melt outside in the summer heat? In the refrigerator? In an air conditioned room?
Float or sink: In a pool or the bathtub, hypothesize which items (soap, dry sock, bottle of shampoo, rock, etc.) will float or sink. Test your hypotheses.

Great Books in the Movies

These movie releases of favorite children’s titles will keep you entertained all summer long:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Enter into the post apocalyptic world of Panem, and watch as Katniss enters a fight-to-the-death in the Capitol's Hunger Games.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Pick your favorite title from the series or watch all seven years of Harry's adventures as the Boy Who Lived.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene: The ever-perky, resourceful young detective stumbles across a long-unsolved crime.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: Young Percy Jackson realizes his true roots and begins a quest to stop a war between the gods of Greek mythology.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: This live-action and computer-enhanced version takes the classic story to a new level.

Keeping Kids Motivated


Parent involvement during the summer months is crucial to student success. According to the National Education Association, “Parents who are actively involved in their children’s learning at home help their children become more successful learners in and out of school.” Encourage parents with a final newsletter full of activities that will stave off forgetfulness and even build skills over the summer.

  • Set aside time each day to read. Track the books your child reads and reward him or her with a special activity or treat when he or she reaches certain milestones (for example, every 10th book).
  • Do art projects based on favorite titles, such as drawing a favorite scene, or making paper bag puppets.
  • Visit your local library. Many libraries have wonderful summer reading programs that reward children for the number of books they read.
  • Make every day educational. Children learn problem-solving, math, science, and vocabulary as they help with groceries, laundry, and cooking.
  • Create a summer scrapbook. Save postcards and movie tickets, record family stories or interesting events from each day, whether you’re going on vacation or just going to your neighborhood park.

Roadworthy Car Games

For kids on the bus or families on vacation, put those long rides to good use with activities that keep the kids busy and build reading and math skills.

For grades K–3:
Car bingo: Create a car bingo card with words, shapes, colors, and items that children will likely see during a trip (stop signs, billboards, railroad signs, etc.) to reinforce reading skills, math, and sight words.
The number game: Look out the window and call out when you see one, two, three, or four of something, and so on.
The alphabet game: One person chooses the right side of the road, and the other chooses the left. Call out objects that you see in alphabetical order (you can use a sign only for one letter). The first person to get to the letter "z" wins.

For grades 4–8:
Capital game: Take note of each license plate you see, not by state, but by state capital. The first to correctly identify 10 state capitals wins.
Cow game: One person takes the right side of the road, the other takes the left. Keep count of all the cows you see. You earn one point for each cow. When you see a cemetery out of your side of the car, you lose all your points.
Animals galore: Decide on a number of points for each animal that you see (cow = 1 point, horse = 1 point, pig = 2 points, etc.). As you drive, add up the points. Play until one person gets 10 points, or for a set time.
Math with license plates: Use the numbers on license plates to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and number patterns and see just how creative kids can get!


We are sharing this great blog from

The Sacrifice of Having What's Valuable

May 28, 2019
By CCS Parent

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

There is nothing more valuable to God than us. That is why He sent Jesus. He sacrificed the most important thing in order to gain us back. God knew that His investment would result in the highest return, but it had to cost Him something in the beginning and for a brief moment in time, knowing full well that it was worth the sacrifice.

J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan once said: “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

If we are honest with ourselves, sacrifice is not something we like to hear or do. If you are like me, sometimes you find yourself trying to figure out a way to not have to give something up (like my time, money, or energy) in order to maintain what is valuable. I think that often times we make compromises in regard to what we really want in order to avoid making sacrifices to keep what is most valuable to us. It ends up costing us more in the long run.

My wife and I have 3 kids currently attending Calvin Christian. Aside from my relationship with Christ and my wife, there aren’t many things in life that are more valuable than my children. As a parent, I believe that I have a responsibility of raising them to be successful adults in all areas of life. For my wife and I, the spiritual and educational aspect of raising our kids is very important. That is the main reason we chose to send our children to Calvin Christian - because Calvin does both well.

I still remember the moment that solidified that decision for the 2 of us. We were attending a back to school night when our oldest son was in first grade. I remember his teacher telling the parents how she would come in every morning before the students arrived and stand behind one of the little desks and pray for that child for 30 minutes. At that moment, I realized that what was already valuable to us as parents, was also valuable to this school. We were both sold, committed and were determined to maintain this valuable relationship with Calvin Christian. Now mind you, this was before we had 2 other children, not fully realizing the cost that it would take to maintain this relationship. And every time it got challenging, and almost seemed like it would not work out having another attend, we reminded ourselves of what is valuable to us and what we are willing to do to maintain it. It does get hard, but we know that this sacrifice will have it’s reward, and most importantly that God will help us. The best part is, that He has helped us every step of the way.

“What you compromise to gain, you will eventually lose”. This was something that a former employer told me when I was a younger man. How true it is, even to this day. How many times in my own life have I compromised just to save some money, time or whatever? It ended up costing me more in the end. We all have done it and have some regrets as well. That is why it is important to continue to sacrifice to keep having what is valuable.

I leave you with this thought. Philippians 3:14 tells us to press on towards the goal. No matter how hard the sacrifice might be, keep it, because the rewards for that sacrifice will eventually outweigh the cost of it.


This is a repost from 2015

Recent Posts

9/3/19 - By Hannah VanMaanen, former CCS teacher
8/2/19 - By By: Janelle Cox
6/25/19 - By Samantha Cleaver
5/28/19 - By CCS Parent
5/4/19 - By Terry Kok

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