Among the good ideas presented in this complex collection of materials are some summaries of resources appropriate for Elementary Science. For example, according to the author, the National Center for Improving Science Education recommends that elementary schools design curricula that introduce nine scientific concepts. A concise description of the nine realms of understanding that elementary school students should master is presented. The link to resources then proceeds to a list of a few of the many excellent science books available for elementary school children, endorsed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its recommendations, from The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children, by the National Science Resources Center; and from Phyllis Marcuccio at the National Science Teachers Association.
Type of Material:
Reference material. This collection is a sort of Reader's Digest of important academic resources. For example, this site provides a summary of principles supported by The National Center for Improving Science Education. As secondary source for this information the goals are listed for the reader.
Inspiration for teachers and parents wanting to advocate for improved science teaching. However, this material should be viewed with the intent of researching further by going to the original source which can be found, for example, at the following URL http://www.wested.org/cs/wew/view/pg/21
Ability to access the Internet.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
There appears to be an attempt to bring to parents and teachers of elementary age children the information on how to set up "scientific" thinking and learning. The author believes that for a person to become what they are--rather than what society makes them out to be--individual responsibility and courage are required. He goes on to explain that good ideas should be borrowed and incorporated into one's personal philosophy. To find those good ideas,
however, requires a willingness to think, a willingness to change, and courage to explore.
Target Student Population:
K-6 teachers and parents who intend to advocate for students who are being taught science.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Both parents and teachers would need to know how to access computers, Internet and be willing to accept this author's interpretation of the principles identified on this site. Both parents and teachers would need prior knowledge of the concepts of how to teach science in order to understand the concepts presented here.
Evaluation and Observation
The author has summarized in clearly stated language the important principles support by one research group for the improvement of elementary science instruction. The quality and selection of materials are good and they represent directions for science teaching supported by research and yet too rarely implemented.
Since this is a secondary source, a hyperlink to the original work and credit to the original works should be more prominent on the web site. Also, recent ideas about what science is and is not go beyond what is presented among the referenced materials. The following ideas come from PBS at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/educators/course/session1/elaborate_a.html
For example, science IS NOT a process that attempts to prove things. Science actually tries to disprove ideas (tentative explanations). It challenges or tests ideas. If the hypothesis or idea stands up to testing, then it is a likely explanation.
AND science IS NOT a process that can solve or answer all kinds of problems and questions. It doesn't address the supernatural realm or the realm of values and ethics.
And science IS NOT a process where one solution is as good as another or is just a matter of opinion.
Most of the recommended books naturally support this view of science since the selections are endorsed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The New York Times Parents Guide to the Best Books for Children, the National Science Resources Center, and by Phyllis Marcuccio at the National Science Teachers Association.
Many of the pages linked via the menu at the bottom of the page fail to distinguish between science and belief systems that may be different but compatible ways of knowing. And since the authorship and academic credentials of the collector of these materials are not clear,
it is imperative that more accurate references to the original materials be included along with these summaries.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This could be used as an introduction to recommended practices and foundations of science methods. As a teaching tool, if elementary science teachers were to print and follow the summary nine statements from the National Center for Improving Science Education recommendations for elementary schools to design curricula, they would certainly do a good job teaching science. However, it is becoming more important for teachers and school districts to select and test rather than design appropriate science curricula. Still, these same nine principles should apply.
The problem of the failure to distinguish between science versus history and philosophy such as the thinking of modern philosophers-- and ideas about intelligent design that show up when one follows the links might be confusing to the non-scientist. Readers who may want to consider the history and exposition of Western thought, for example about design in the natural world, should consider the nature of science as a unique approach to thinking about the natural world. From a scientific perspective, the theory of evolution is a rigorously tested statement of general principles that explains observable and recorded aspects of the world. A scientific theory describes a higher level of understanding that ties facts together. A clear separation of science from other ways of knowing should help the public become aware that science requires one to think, analyze and compare available information about the empirical (measurable) world. Because of empirical (measurable) evidence, the theory of evolution is NOT a controversial subject in science. The Darwinian theory of evolution has withstood the test of time and thousands of scientific experiments; nothing has disproved it since Darwin first proposed it more than 150 years ago. Many people,
from evolutionary biologists to important religious figures like Pope John Paul II, contend that the time-tested theory of evolution does not refute the presence of God. They acknowledge that evolution is the description of a process that governs the development of life on Earth. Science has nothing to say one way or the other about the existence of God or about spiritual beliefs. Science and religion are two separate ways of knowing about life. We hope teachers will understand that it does not seem appropriate to debate beliefs in a science class when science does not even deal with God, faith, or spirituality. Such topics are not empirical (measurable) and are therefore outside the realm of science. It is not clear whether the http://www.2think.org clarifies or muddies these modern views about the distinctions between science and other ways of knowing about life. The secondary nature of this summary makes it imperative that the original research report or publication by the organization that supports the views must be made available for comparison and verification that the summary is accurate and in the spirit that the original author intended.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The strength of this web page is that it is well written and uses a listing format which clearly identifies the various elements of science instructional recommendations, but the organization make it difficult to navigate through the collection of resources aimed specifically at improving K-8 science education.
The 31,977,603 hits this site has generated since 1997 may be artificially inflated due to the number of pages that must be explored before returning to a source of material of interest on this site. And yet,
the number of hits truly reflects the value of the material presented. This collection may be best used as a source of philosophy that might inform views about science teaching, and not as an academic resource that serves to define future directions, although it provides valuable information for curriculum reformers to use in restructuring the way that elementary science instruction is delivered.
Other Issues and Comments:
The secondary nature of this reporting makes it imperative that the orginal work be sited and hyperlinked to this web site.