National Academies Press: OpenBook

Science for All Children: A Guide to Improving Elementary Science Education in Your School District (1997)

Chapter: Appendix B: Exemplary Elementary Science Curriculum Materials

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Exemplary Elementary Science Curriculum Materials." National Academy of Sciences. 1997. Science for All Children: A Guide to Improving Elementary Science Education in Your School District. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4964.
Page 214
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Exemplary Elementary Science Curriculum Materials." National Academy of Sciences. 1997. Science for All Children: A Guide to Improving Elementary Science Education in Your School District. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4964.
Page 215

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Appendix B Exemplary Elementary Science Curriculum Materials ~ he following curriculum mate- rials meet the criteria outlined in Chapter 5. Materials such as these can create a solid framework around which to build an ex- emplary elementary science program. Full Option Science System (FOSS). FOSS Program, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720. Phone: (510) 642-S941; fax: (510) 642-1055. Distributed by Ency- clopaedia Britannica Educational Corporation, 310 South Michi- ~n Ave (ethical. IL 60604. Phone: (800) 554-9862. ~) ~ 7 ~ The FOSS program is designed to engage students in actively con- structing scientific concepts through multisensory, han(ls-on labo- ratory activities. The K-6 curriculum comprises 27 modules: five kindergarten modules organized under topics in the life and phys- ical sciences; six motluTes for grades ~ and 2 in the areas of life, physical, and earth sciences; and 16 modules for grades 3 to 6 in the life, physical, en cl earth sciences, as well as in scientific reason- ing and technology. Students in grades 1 and 2 explore three mocl- ules per year, while students in grades 3 to 6 use four mocluTes per year. A multimedia component is available; it is marketed as the Britannica Science System. Development of the FOSS program was funclecl by the National Science Foundation. 214

Exemplary Elementary Science Curriculum Matenals Improving Urban Elementary Science (Insights). Education De- velopment Center, Inc., 55 Chapel St., Newton, MA 02160. Phone: (617) 969-7100 or (800) 225-4276; fax: (617) 965-6325. Distributed by Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 4050 Westmark Drive, P.O. Box lS40~ Dubuque, IA 52004-1840. Phone: (800) 542-6657. Insights is a curriculum program made up of 17 modules for grades K through 6, each requiring six to eight weeks to complete. The modules help develop students' understanding of science and en- courage problem-solving skills. Topics reflect a balance of life, phys- ical, and earth sciences and can integrate science with other areas of the curriculum, especially language arts and mathematics. The activities in this program support cultural, racial, and linguistic di- versity. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation. Science and Technology for Children (STC). National Science Re- sources Center, Arts and Industries Building, Room 1201, Smith- sonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560. Phone: (202) 357-2555; fax: (202) 78~2028. Distributed by Carolina Biological Supply Com- pany, 2700 York Rd.. Burlington. NC 27215. Phone: (800) 227-1150. ~O ~ The STC program consists of a series of 24 inquiry-centered cur- ricuTum modules for grades 1 through 6, with 4 units at each grade level. The modules cover life, earth, and physical sciences and de- sign technology. The technological applications of science and the interactions among science, technology, and society are addressed throughout the program. The modules are designed to involve children in hancls-on, inquiry-based investigations of scientific phenomena. Development of scientific reasoning skills is empha- sized. Major support for the STC program has been provided by the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Ed- ucation. Other contributors include E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, the Amoco Foundation, Inc., and the Hewlett-Packard Company. 215

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Remember the first time you planted a seed and watched it sprout? Or explored how a magnet attracted a nail? If these questions bring back memories of joy and wonder, then you understand the idea behind inquiry-based science—an approach to science education that challenges children to ask questions, solve problems, and develop scientific skills as well as gain knowledge. Inquiry-based science is based on research and experience, both of which confirm that children learn science best when they engage in hands-on science activities rather than read from a textbook.

The recent National Science Education Standards prepared by the National Research Council call for a revolution in science education. They stress that the science taught must be based on active inquiry and that science should become a core activity in every grade, starting in kindergarten. This easy-to-read and practical book shows how to bring about the changes recommended in the standards. It provides guidelines for planning and implementing an inquiry-based science program in any school district.

The book is divided into three parts. "Building a Foundation for Change," presents a rationale for inquiry-based science and describes how teaching through inquiry supports the way children naturally learn. It concludes with basic guidelines for planning a program.

School administrators, teachers, and parents will be especially interested in the second part, "The Nuts and Bolts of Change." This section describes the five building blocks of an elementary science program:

  • Community and administrative support.
  • A developmentally appropriate curriculum.
  • Opportunities for professional development.
  • Materials support.
  • Appropriate assessment tools.

Together, these five elements provide a working model of how to implement hands-on science.

The third part, "Inquiry-Centered Science in Practice," presents profiles of the successful inquiry-based science programs in districts nationwide. These profiles show how the principles of hands-on science can be adapted to different school settings.

If you want to improve the way science is taught in the elementary schools in your community, Science for All Children is an indispensable resource.

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