The Committee on Science Learning, Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade, was established by the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake this study. Composed of 14 members selected to reflect a diversity of perspectives and a broad range of expertise, the committee included experts in cognitive and developmental psychology, educational policy and implementation, classroom-based science education research, the natural sciences, the practice of science teaching, and science learning in informal environments. The committee was charged to respond to specific guiding questions (which are laid out in Box 1-1).

Scope and Approach

The committee carried out its charge through an iterative process of gathering information, deliberating on it, identifying gaps and questions, gathering further information to fill these gaps, and holding further discussions. In its search for relevant information, the committee held three public fact-finding meetings, reviewed published reports and unpublished research, and commissioned experts to prepare and present papers. At its fourth and fifth meetings, the committee intensely analyzed and discussed its findings and conclusions.

The report is primarily concerned with characterizing the state of knowledge about how students learn science. However, this interest quickly slips beyond the classroom, museum, or other immediate contexts in which chil-

BOX 1-1

Committee Charge

What does research on learning, culling from a variety of research fields, suggest about how science is learned? What, if any, are “critical stages” in children’s development of scientific concepts? Where might connections between lines of research need to be made?

Given a comprehensive review of this research, how does it help clarify how to teach science in K-8 classrooms? How can the existing body of research that is applicable to K-8 science learning be made useful for science educators, teacher educators, professional organizations, researchers, and policy makers?

What other lines of research need to be pursued to make understanding about how students learn science more complete?

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