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The National Science Education Standards for Grades K-4 from the National Research Council are being presented in this blog in seven installments, with one “content standard” per posting. At the end of each Content Standard, we will look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) texts align with that section. Some Standards are a bit long, but Gravitas wants to present each to you in its entirety.

Science as Inquiry

As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop

  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understanding about scientific inquiry

Developing Student Abilities and Understanding

From the earliest grades, students should experience science in a form that engages them in the active construction of ideas and explanations that enhance their opportunities to develop the abilities of doing science. Teaching science as inquiry provides teachers with the opportunity to develop student abilities and to enrich student understanding of science. Students should do science in ways that are within their developmental capabilities. This standard sets forth some abilities of scientific inquiry appropriate for students in grades K-4.

In the early years of school, students can investigate earth materials, organisms, and properties of common objects. Although children develop concepts and vocabulary from such experiences, they also should develop inquiry skills. As students focus on the processes of doing investigations, they develop the ability to ask scientific questions, investigate aspects of the world around them, and use their observations to construct reasonable explanations for the questions posed. Guided by teachers, students continually develop their science knowledge. Students should also learn through the inquiry process how to communicate about their own and their peers’ investigations and explanations.

There is logic behind the abilities outlined in the inquiry standard, but a step-by-step sequence or scientific method is not implied. In practice, student questions might arise from previous investigations, planned classroom activities, or questions students ask each other. For instance, if children ask each other how animals are similar and different, an investigation might arise into characteristics of organisms they can observe.

Full inquiry involves asking a simple question, completing an investigation, answering the question, and presenting the results to others. In elementary grades, students begin to develop the physical and intellectual abilities of scientific inquiry. They can design investigations to try things to see what happens–they tend to focus on concrete results of tests and will entertain the idea of a “fair” test (a test in which only one variable at a time is changed). However, children in K-4 have difficulty with experimentation as a process of testing ideas and the logic of using evidence to formulate explanations.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental abilities and concepts that underlie this standard include:

Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry

  • Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. This aspect of the standard emphasizes students asking questions that they can answer with scientific knowledge, combined with their own observations. Students should answer their questions by seeking information from reliable sources of scientific information and from their own observations and investigations.
  • Plan and conduct a simple investigation. In the earliest years, investigations are largely based on systematic observations. As students develop, they may design and conduct simple experiments to answer questions. The idea of a fair test is possible for many students to consider by fourth grade.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. In early years, students develop simple skills, such as how to observe, measure, cut, connect, switch, turn on and off, pour, hold, tie, and hook. Beginning with simple instruments, students can use rulers to measure the length, height, and depth of objects and materials; thermometers to measure temperature; watches to measure time; beam balances and spring scales to measure weight and force; magnifiers to observe objects and organisms; and microscopes to observe the finer details of plants, animals, rocks, and other materials. Children also develop skills in the use of computers and calculators for conducting investigations.
  • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation. This aspect of the standard emphasizes the students’ thinking as they use data to formulate explanations. Even at the earliest grade levels, students should learn what constitutes evidence and judge the merits or strength of the data and information that will be used to make explanations. After students propose an explanation, they will appeal to the knowledge and evidence they obtained to support their explanations. Students should check their explanations against scientific knowledge, experiences, and observations of others.
  • Communicate investigations and explanations. Students should begin developing the abilities to communicate, critique, and analyze their work and the work of other students. This communication might be spoken or drawn as well as written. [See Teaching Standard B]

Understandings About Scientific Inquiry

  • Scientific investigations involve asking and answering a question and comparing the answer with what scientists already know about the world. [See Content Standard G]
  • Scientists use different kinds of investigations depending on the questions they are trying to answer. Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms; classifying them; and doing a fair test (experimenting).
  • Simple instruments, such as magnifiers, thermometers, and rulers, provide more information than scientists obtain using only their senses. [See Standard C]
  • Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations.
  • Scientists make the results of their investigations public; they describe the investigations in ways that enable others to repeat the investigations.
  • Scientists review and ask questions about the results of other scientists’ work.

How Real Science-4-Kids Meets This Standard

All Real Science-4-Kids Pre-Level I materials support the National Standard for “Science As Inquiry” for Grades K-4, since RS4K student texts and lab workbooks are created from the perspective of science as inquiry. Below are just a few specific examples taken from Pre-Level I texts and workbooks that illustrate of the fulfillment of this National Standard as outlined in the above list of “Abilities.”

  • Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. RS4K Student Texts for chemistry, biology and physics each have a companion Laboratory Workbook with an age appropriate activity (experiment) for each Text chapter. This allows hands-on use of the scientific knowledge imparted in the Text coupled with the student’s own “inquiry” and observations. For example, the first chapter of Biology teaches a logical way of using observation to sort and classify living things. It then goes further with the most basic information on the scientific classification system (taxonomy). The Teacher’s Manual explains how to gather a large assortment of items (mostly non-living) that the student can use in the Lab experiment that teaches how various “features” of one item might mean it could fit into more than one sorted group.
  • Plan and conduct a simple investigation. The Biology Lab Workbook has worksheets for the chapter 1 experiment described above. The sheets make it easy for a student to follow a process of systematic observation about the group of objects that were collected. In completing the forms, the student learns to notice details and make observations about similarities and differences. In words and drawings, the student learns to record data (descriptions). The experiment ends with questions designed to help the student summarize what was learned.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. Because Pre-Level I books are for a range of ages, the parent or other teacher can decide which measurements for the experiments can be done by the student. A fun example of learning to use measurements is the lab experiment of “making goo” for Chemistry’s chapter 9 subject of understanding molecular chains and how a substance can change. The student measures specific amounts of glue and laundry starch to produce a goo that is no longer sticky like the glue and can be rolled into a ball.
  • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation. The Lab Workbooks for all three subjects guide the student to record observations logically. Questions designed to allow the student to use the gathered data to draw conclusions based on evidence follow the data gathering. There are spaces for the student to write (present) his or her conclusions. The experiment for chapter 5 in Biology is an excellent example. The student is asked to think about what might happen if a bean is placed in a cup of water for several days and to draw what is imagined (the hypothesis). Then there are instructions of how to place a bean in a clear cup of water. Spaces are provided for the student to draw what can be observed each day. The next section of the worksheets has questions that the student answers based on the accumulated drawings over time. The experiment ends with scientific information about how the bean seedling would behave if planted in soil. This allows the student to compare the results of his or her experiment with accepted scientific knowledge.
  • Communicate investigations and explanations. As described above, the Lab Workbook process takes the student through the process of summarizing data and stating (or drawing) a conclusion. In many experiments, there is additional scientific knowledge provided in the Lab Workbook or in the corresponding Teacher’s Manual.

The National Science Education Standards for Grades K-4 from the National Research Council are being presented in this blog in seven installments, with one “content standard” per posting. This is the second. At the end of each Content Standard, we will look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) texts align with that section. Some Standards are a bit long, but Gravitas wants to present each to you in its entirety.

Physical Science

As a result of the activities in grades K-4, all students should develop an understanding of

  • Properties of objects and materials
  • Position and motion of objects
  • Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism

Developing Student Understanding

During their early years, children’s natural curiosity leads them to explore the world by observing and manipulating common objects and materials in their environment. Children compare, describe, and sort as they begin to form explanations of the world. Developing a subject-matter knowledge base to explain and predict the world requires many experiences over a long period. Young children bring experiences, understanding, and ideas to school; teachers provide opportunities to continue children’s explorations in focused settings with other children using simple tools, such as magnifiers and measuring devices.

Physical science in grades K-4 includes topics that give students a chance to increase their understanding of the characteristics of objects and materials that they encounter daily. Through the observation, manipulation, and classification of common objects, children reflect on the similarities and differences of the objects. As a result, their initial sketches and single-word descriptions lead to increasingly more detailed drawings and richer verbal descriptions. Describing, grouping, and sorting solid objects and materials is possible early in this grade range. By grade 4, distinctions between the properties of objects and materials can be understood in specific contexts, such as a set of rocks or living materials.

See the example entitled “Willie the Hamster”

Young children begin their study of matter by examining and qualitatively describing objects and their behavior. The important but abstract ideas of science, such as atomic structure of matter and the conservation of energy, all begin with observing and keeping track of the way the world behaves. When carefully observed, described, and measured, the properties of objects, changes in properties over time, and the changes that occur when materials interact provide the necessary precursors to the later introduction of more abstract ideas in the upper grade levels.

Students are familiar with the change of state between water and ice, but the idea of liquids having a set of properties is more nebulous and requires more instructional effort than working with solids. Most students will have difficulty with the generalization that many substances can exist as either a liquid or a solid. K-4 students do not understand that water exists as a gas when it boils or evaporates; they are more likely to think that water disappears or goes into the sky. Despite that limitation, students can conduct simple investigations with heating and evaporation that develop inquiry skills and familiarize them with the phenomena.

When students describe and manipulate objects by pushing, pulling, throwing, dropping, and rolling, they also begin to focus on the position and movement of objects: describing location as up, down, in front, or behind, and discovering the various kinds of motion and forces required to control it. By experimenting with light, heat, electricity, magnetism, and sound, students begin to understand that phenomena can be observed, measured, and controlled in various ways. The children cannot understand a complex concept such as energy. Nonetheless, they have intuitive notions of energy–for example, energy is needed to get things done; humans get energy from food. Teachers can build on the intuitive notions of students without requiring them to memorize technical definitions.

Sounds are not intuitively associated with the characteristics of their source by younger K-4 students, but that association can be developed by investigating a variety of concrete phenomena toward the end of the K-4 level. In most children’s minds, electricity begins at a source and goes to a target. This mental model can be seen in students’ first attempts to light a bulb using a battery and wire by attaching one wire to a bulb. Repeated activities will help students develop an idea of a circuit late in this grade range and begin to grasp the effect of more than one battery. Children cannot distinguish between heat and temperature at this age; therefore, investigating heat necessarily must focus on changes in temperature.

As children develop facility with language, their descriptions become richer and include more detail. Initially no tools need to be used, but children eventually learn that they can add to their descriptions by measuring objects–first with measuring devices they create and then by using conventional measuring instruments, such as rulers, balances, and thermometers. By recording data and making graphs and charts, older children can search for patterns and order in their work and that of their peers. For example, they can determine the speed of an object as fast, faster, or fastest in the earliest grades. As students get older, they can represent motion on simple grids and graphs and describe speed as the distance traveled in a given unit of time.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include:

Properties of Objects and Materials

  • Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, shape, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances. Those properties can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances, and thermometers.
  • Objects are made of one or more materials, such as paper, wood, and metal. Objects can be described by the properties of the materials from which they are made, and those properties can be used to separate or sort a group of objects or materials.
  • Materials can exist in different states–solid, liquid, and gas. Some common materials, such as water, can be changed from one state to another by heating or cooling.

Position and Motion of Objects

  • The position of an object can be described by locating it relative to another object or the background.
  • An object’s motion can be described by tracing and measuring its position over time.
  • The position and motion of objects can be changed by pushing or pulling. The size of the change is related to the strength of the push or pull.
  • Sound is produced by vibrating objects. The pitch of the sound can be varied by changing the rate of vibration.

Light, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism

  • Light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object. Light can be reflected by a mirror, refracted by a lens, or absorbed by the object.
  • Heat can be produced in many ways, such as burning, rubbing, or mixing one substance with another. Heat can move from one object to another by conduction.
  • Electricity in circuits can produce light, heat, sound, and magnetic effects. Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.
  • Magnets attract and repel each other and certain kinds of other materials.

How Real Science-4-Kids Meets This Standard

Below are just a few specific examples taken from Pre-Level I texts and workbooks that illustrate of the fulfillment of this National Standard as outlined in the above “Guide to the Content Standard.”

Properties of Objects and Materials

  • The observable properties of objects are covered in the first chapters of both Pre-Level I Chemistry and Pre-Level I Biology (see second bullet point below). Chemistry approaches the subject of observable properties by explaining that these are based on atoms. Chapter 1 describes in basic terms why carrots are orange, for example, and the chapter ends with a section on how scientists make observations. Reactions are discussed in Chapters 3 and 5 of Pre-Level I Chemistry. The Physics Laboratory Workbook for Pre-Level I is set up to help students learn to make good observations with a three-step process of Observe It, Think About It, and Test It. They document the characteristics of various objects they compare with each other in the first experiment called “Falling Objects.”
  • Teaching that objects can be sorted based on characteristics is covered well in the first chapter of Pre-Level I Biology. It is in the Biology book, because it provides a hands-on way for students to learn about classifying things and then the text explains about the classification system for living things. The Teacher’s Manual explains how to gather a large assortment of items (non-living) that the student can use in the Lab Workbook experiment. Students learn how various “features” of one item might mean it could fit into more than one sorted group.
  • The concept of materials existing in different states is not covered as a specific topic in the Pre-Level I materials.

Position and Motion of Objects

  • Pre-Level I Physics explores motion in detail in Chapter 4 (When Things Move).
  • Two good examples of helping the student observe and work with motion are the Physics Pre-Level I Laboratory Workbook experiments for Chapter 3 (Moving Energy In a Toy Car) and Chapter 4 (Rolling Marbles).
  • Position and motion changed by pushing or pulling is taught in detail in Chapter 2 (Push and Pull) of Pre-Level I Physics. Students are introduced to “force,” “work” and “energy” through familiar situations they encounter.
  • Sound is discussed as waves of moving air molecules in Chapter 9 (Light and Sound).

Light, Heat, Electricity and Magnetism

  • Light and its properties are taught in Chapter 9 (Light and Sound) of Pre-Level I Physics. The corresponding Lab Workbook experiment helps students observe and record how light is split by a prism.
  • Heat is not covered as a specific topic in Pre-Level I materials.
  • Electricity is explained in Chapter 9 (Electricity) of Pre-Level I Chemistry.
  • How magnets and magnetism work and their properties are presented in Chapter 8 (Magnets) of Pre-Level I Physics. Students use two bar magnets to learn about magnetic poles in the Chapter 8 experiment.

The National Science Education Standards for Grades K-4 from the National Research Council are being presented in this blog in seven installments, with one “content standard” per posting. This is the second. At the end of each Content Standard, we will look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) texts align with that section. Some Standards are a bit long, but Gravitas wants to present each to you in its entirety.

Life Science

As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop understanding of

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Life cycles of organisms
  • Organisms and environments

Developing Student Understanding

During the elementary grades, children build understanding of biological concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles, and their habitats. These experiences emerge from the sense of wonder and natural interests of children who ask questions such as: “How do plants get food? How many different animals are there? Why do some animals eat other animals? What is the largest plant? Where did the dinosaurs go?” An understanding of the characteristics of organisms, life cycles of organisms, and of the complex interactions among all components of the natural environment begins with questions such as these and an understanding of how individual organisms maintain and continue life. Making sense of the way organisms live in their environments will develop some understanding of the diversity of life and how all living organisms depend on the living and nonliving environment for survival. Because the child’s world at grades K-4 is closely associated with the home, school, and immediate environment, the study of organisms should include observations and interactions within the natural world of the child. The experiences and activities in grades K-4 provide a concrete foundation for the progressive development in the later grades of major biological concepts, such as evolution, heredity, the cell, the biosphere, interdependence, the behavior of organisms, and matter and energy in living systems.

Children’s ideas about the characteristics of organisms develop from basic concepts of living and nonliving. Piaget noted, for instance, that young children give anthropomorphic explanations to organisms. In lower elementary grades, many children associate “life” with any objects that are active in any way. This view of life develops into one in which movement becomes the defining characteristic. Eventually children incorporate other concepts, such as eating, breathing, and reproducing to define life. As students have a variety of experiences with organisms, and subsequently develop a knowledge base in the life sciences, their anthropomorphic attributions should decline.

In classroom activities such as classification, younger elementary students generally use mutually exclusive rather than hierarchical categories. Young children, for example, will use two groups, but older children will use several groups at the same time. Students do not consistently use classification schemes similar to those used by biologists until the upper elementary grades.

As students investigate the life cycles of organisms, teachers might observe that young children do not understand the continuity of life from, for example, seed to seedling or larvae to pupae to adult. But teachers will notice that by second grade, most students know that children resemble their parents. Students can also differentiate learned from inherited characteristics. However, students might hold some naive thoughts about inheritance, including the belief that traits are inherited from only one parent, that certain traits are inherited exclusively from one parent or the other, or that all traits are simply a blend of characteristics from each parent.

Young children think concretely about individual organisms. For example, animals are associated with pets or with animals kept in a zoo. The idea that organisms depend on their environment (including other organisms in some cases) is not well developed in young children. In grades K-4, the focus should be on establishing the primary association of organisms with their environments and the secondary ideas of dependence on various aspects of the environment and of behaviors that help various animals survive. Lower elementary students can understand the food link between two organisms.

Guide to the Content Standard

Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include:

The Characteristics of Organisms

  • Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms.
  • Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. For example, humans have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking.
  • The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and by external cues (such as a change in the environment). Humans and other organisms have senses that help them detect internal and external cues.

Life Cycles of Organisms

  • Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms.
  • Plants and animals closely resemble their parents.
  • Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual’s interactions with the environment. Inherited characteristics include the color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal. Other features, such as the ability to ride a bicycle, are learned through interactions with the environment and cannot be passed on to the next generation.

Organisms and Their Environments

  • All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
  • An organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism’s environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations. [See Content Standard F (grades K-4)]
  • All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.
  • Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

How Real Science-4-Kids Meets This Standard

Below are just a few specific examples taken from Pre-Level I texts and workbooks that illustrate of the fulfillment of this National Standard as outlined in the above “Guide to the Content Standard.”

The Characteristics of Organisms

  • RS4K Pre-Level I Biology begins with a chapter explaining that living things differ from non-living things in several ways and dependence on food and environmental factors is one of the differentiators. This chapter also introduces students to the idea of classifications and provides a fun experiment to help them use classification skills. Experiments in the Laboratory Workbook, such as “Who Needs Light?” reinforce how dependent living things are on various elements in their environment.
  • How structures within cells, animals and plants perform differing jobs is a theme illustrated throughout the biology student text and lab book, but the greatest concentration of that information can be found in chapter 4, Plant Parts, and chapter 3, Food for Plants. For example, chapter 3 explains that the green parts of plants are “food factories.” The corresponding experiments show students examples of how plants use light and water.
  • Chapters 6 through 9 focus on the life cycles of animals from protozoa to frogs. The chapter on butterflies (chapter _8) is especially relevant to an organism’s responses to internal and external cues such as a newly born caterpillar having the instinct to immediately begin eating the leaf that supports it.

Life Cycles of Organisms

  • The RS4K Pre-Level I Biology Student Text specifically explains in detail the life cycles of a plant, protozoa, butterflies and frogs. Lab workbook experiments for chapters 5 through 9 provide students with the opportunity to observe these life cycles.
  • Illustrating the life cycle of various organisms points out that each organism begets another like it, although “heredity” as a concept is not separately discussed. Chapter 5 points out, for example, that “It takes a flowering plant to make a seed of a flowering plant. And it takes a seed of a flowering plant to make a flowering plant.”
  • Differentiating inherited characteristics from learned features is not covered as a specific topic.

Organisms and Their Environments

  • The dependence of all life on light, air and water and the food cycle are most pointedly discussed in chapter 10 of the RS4K Pre-Level I Biology Student Text. A colorful illustration shows the food cycle from plants to an animal eating plants to an animal eating the plant-eating animal.
  • Chapter 10’s topic of life in a delicate balance addresses these issues in general terms but various other chapters illustrate the points with specifics. For example, chapter 3 explains that a tree’s reaction to less light in the fall is to have its leaves stop making chlorophyll so that the leaves die off.
  • An example in chapter 10 of plants “breathing in” carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen that humans can then breathe in illustrates this point for students.
  • Although the delicate nature of the balance of life on Earth is explored in some depth in chapter 10, Our Balanced Earth, the text does not go into specifics about human-caused effects on the planet.

National Science Standards, History and Nature of Science

This post relates to the History and Nature of Science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) and Kogs-4-Kids (K4K) texts align with these.

National Science Education Standards; HISTORY & NATURE OF SCIENCE

Science as a Human Endeavor

  • Women and men of various social and ethnic backgrounds – and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations – engage in the activities of science, engineering, and related fields such as the health professions. Some scientists work in teams, and some work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.
  • Science requires different abilities, depending on such factors as the field of study and type of inquiry. Science is very much a human endeavor, and the work of science relies on basic human qualities, such as reasoning, insight, energy, skill, and creativity – as well as on the scientific habits of mind, such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism, and openness to new ideas.

Nature of Science

  1. Scientists formulate and test their explanations of nature using observation, experiments, and theoretical and mathematical models. Although all scientific ideas are tentative and subject to change and improvement in principle, for most major ideas in science, there is much experimental and observational confirmation. Those ideas are not likely to change greatly in the future. Scientists do and have changed their ideas about nature when they encounter new experimental evidence that does not match their existing explanations.
  2. In areas where active research is being pursued and in which there is not a great deal of experimental or observational evidence and understanding, it is normal for scientists to differ with one another about the interpretation of the evidence or theory being considered. Different scientists might publish conflicting experimental results or might draw different conclusions from the same data. Ideally, scientists acknowledge such conflict and work towards finding evidence that will resolve their disagreement.
  3. It is part of scientific inquiry to evaluate the results of scientific investigations, experiments, observations, theoretical models, and the explanations proposed by other scientists. Evaluation includes reviewing the experimental procedures, examining the evidence, identifying faulty reasoning, pointing out statements that go beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same observations. Although scientists may disagree about explanations of phenomena, about interpretations of data, or about the value of rival theories, they do agree that questioning, response to criticism, and open communication are integral to the process of science. As scientific knowledge evolves, major disagreements are eventually resolved through such interactions between scientists.

History of Science

  1. Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science. Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
  2. In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history or many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
  3. Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.

Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

The National Standards for “history and nature of science” relate in many ways to the entire content of RS4K and Kogs. Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments are generally true for Pre-Level I and Level II as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Kogs workbooks expand on the subject in the context of the book’s category (philosophy, critical thinking, history, etc.). Because information is built upon with each chapter, many types of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

Science as a Human Endeavor

Inventors and scientists from numerous countries – including Sweden, Russia, Italy, Iran, Greece and the U.S. – are identified specifically throughout both Gravitas’ textbooks and Kogs workbooks. Examples of how discoveries and inventions have benefited societies, and often the inventors personally, are also plentiful. In the Chemistry Connects to History Kog in particular, readers see how early scientists – who often were not known as such but rather had jobs ranging from being king to writing plays to being a lawyer – built upon knowledge and theories to invent the discipline we now call science and further our body of knowlege. Explanations of how various scientists approached a question or problem demonstrate the qualities of good scientists.

Nature of Science

  1. In the Chemistry Connects to History Kog students take an entertaining look back at how early scientific theories evolved as experimentation and observation became more sophisticated and accurate. Readers learn that even in ancient times, people came up with the concept that there were a few elements that were the basis for all things. From Aristotle’s idea of air, water, fire and earth to Democritus’ theory of tiny particles he called “atoms,” students see the progression and refinement of science. Examples of important discoveries in a timeline illustrate in many cases just how scientists conducted experiments to prove their hypotheses.
  2. Chapter 4 in the Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog (How Do We Know What We Know?) deals very specifically with how science has developed by working through differing ideas. The chapter explains terms such as paradigm shifts in science and gives examples such as the story of Svante Arrhenius, who received a low grade on his dissertation about ions from the graduating committee. They did not agree with many of his conclusions. However, he was later proven correct and even received a Nobel Prize for his work.
  3. The scientific method is covered in various places in the RS4K and Kogs curricula, such as in the introduction for Physics Level I and in the Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog, where the Muslim philosopher Ibn al-Haytham is credited with the development and Roger Bacon with the refinement of the process. Bacon added “verification” to the cycle of observation, hypothesis and experimentation. Throughout the Laboratory Workbooks for each discipline, the importance of the method is stressed and illustrated. Helping students embrace a process to weed out statements not supported by evidence, RS4K builds critical thinking skills with numerous lessons and questions. An outstanding source for learning these skills very specifically is the Chemistry Connects to Critical Thinking Kog. The entire 10 chapters of this workbook are devoted to tools for objectively gathering facts and then using a “critical thinking lens” to make valid conclusions or ask further questions.

History of Science

A. through C. The Chemistry Connects to History Kog was created to specifically address the importance of students understanding the history of science and why the challenges faced along the way are important even today. Important figures and their ideas are often brought to life with brief and colorful explanations of their culture. That workbook even begins with an explanation of what “history” means and the tools used to understand and interpret artifacts. Students begin the workbook by creating their own short history or a history for a family member. Blank timelines that the student completes are used throughout. The Chemistry Connects to Philosophy Kog makes use of plays in which the students portray historical figures in science that are having discussions. The Kogs are more detailed extensions of the philosophy woven throughout the Student Texts, which is that students learn best if scientific concepts and facts are put into context. So several chapters in each subject text include information on the scientists who made certain discoveries and the diversity of their backgrounds and culture.


This post relates to the science in personal and social perspectives standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) and Kogs-4-Kids (K4K) texts align with these.

National Science Education Standards

PERSONAL HEALTH:

A.    Regular exercise is important to the maintenance and improvement of health. The benefits of physical fitness include maintaining healthy weight, having energy and strength for routine activities, good muscle tone, bone strength, strong heart/lung systems, and improved mental health. Personal exercise, especially developing cardiovascular endurance, is the foundation of physical fitness.

B.    The potential for accidents and the existence of hazards imposes the need for injury prevention. Safe living involves the development and use of safety precautions and the recognition of risk in personal decisions. Injury prevention has personal and social dimensions.

C.    The use of tobacco increases the risk of illness. Students should understand the influence of short-tem social and psychological factors that lead to tobacco use, and the possible long-term detrimental effects of smoking and chewing tobacco.

D.    Alcohol and other drugs are often abused substances. Such drugs change how the body functions and can lead to addiction.

E.    Food provides energy and nutrients for growth and development. Nutrition requirements vary with body weight, age, sex, activity, and body functioning.

F.    Sex drive is a natural human function that requires understanding. Sex is also a prominent means of transmitting diseases. The diseases can be prevented through a variety of precautions.

G.    Natural environments may contain substances (for example, radon and lead) that are harmful to human beings. Maintaining environmental health involves establishing or monitoring quality standards related to use of soil, water, and air.

POPULATIONS, RESOURCES, AND ENVIRONMENTS 

A.    When an area becomes overpopulated, the environment will become degraded due to the increased use of resources.

B.    Causes of environmental degradation and resource depletion vary from region to region and from country to country.

NATURAL HAZARDS

A.    Internal and external processes of the earth system cause natural hazards, events that change or destroy human and wildlife habitats, damage property, and harm or kill humans. Natural hazards include earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, floods, storms, and even possible impacts of asteroids.

B.    Human activities also can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate many natural changes.

C.    Natural hazards can present personal and societal challenges because misidentifying the change or incorrectly estimating the rate and scale of change may result in either too little attention and significant human costs or too much cost for unneeded preventive measures.

RISKS AND BENEFITS

A.    Risk analysis considers the type of hazard and estimates the number of people that might be exposed and the number likely to suffer the consequences. The results are used to determine the options for reducing or eliminating risks.

B.    Students should understand the risks associated with natural hazards (fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions), with chemical hazards (pollutants in air, water, soil, and food), with biological hazards (pollen, viruses, bacterial, and parasites), social hazards (occupational safety and transportation), and with personal hazards (smoking, dieting, and drinking).

C.    Individuals can use a systematic approach to thinking critically about risks and benefits. Examples include applying probability estimates to risks and comparing them to estimated personal and social benefits.

D.    Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN SOCIETY

A.    Science influences society through its knowledge and world view. Scientific knowledge and the procedures used by scientists influence the way many individuals in society think about themselves, others, and the environment. The effect of science on society is neither entirely beneficial nor entirely detrimental.

B.    Societal challenges often inspire questions for scientific research, and social priorities often influence research priorities through the availability of funding for research.

C.    Technology influences society through its products and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways people act and interact. Technological changes are often accompanied by social, political, and economic changes that can be beneficial or detrimental to individuals and to society. Social needs, attitudes, and values influence the direction of technological development.

D.    Science and technology have advanced through contributions of many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history. Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth and productivity among societies and groups within societies.

E.    Scientists and engineers work in many different settings, including colleges and universities, businesses and industries, specific research institutes, and government agencies.

F.    Scientists and engineers have ethical codes requiring that human subjects involved with research be fully informed about risks and benefits associated with the research before the individuals choose to participate. This ethic extends to potential risks to communities and property. In short, prior knowledge and consent are required for research involving human subjects or potential damage to property.

G.    Science cannot answer all questions and technology cannot solve all human problems or meet all human needs. Students should understand the difference between scientific and other questions. They should appreciate what science and technology can reasonably contribute to society and what they cannot do. For example, new technologies often will decrease some risks and increase others.

H.    Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments are generally true for Pre-Level I and Level II as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I RS4K texts and Kogs-4-Kids™ workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Kogs workbooks match the subject matter of each chapter but expand that subject in the context of the book’s category (philosophy, critical thinking, history, etc.). Because information is built upon with each chapter, many types of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

Personal Health

A. through D.:  Human anatomy and human fitness are not specifically covered in the textbooks as of July 2009, but subjects not covered by current books may be addressed in upcoming curricula.

E.: Chapter 8 (Energy Molecules) in Chemistry Level I goes into detail about why humans need to eat and how our bodies obtain fuel to run properly. Specific nutritional requirements are not addressed in the RS4K texts available as of July 2009.

F. Human anatomy and sexual function are not specifically covered in the textbooks as of July 2009, but subjects not covered by current books may be addressed in upcoming curricula.

G. The first RS4K Earth/Space teaching materials will be available in 2010 and may cover such environmental issues.

Populations, Resources, and Environments

A. and B.:  Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) in Level I Biology discusses in general terms what an ecosystem is and how our food, air and water cycles work. The upcoming Earth/Space series may further address these issues.

Natural Hazards

A. through C.:  These issues may be addressed to varying degrees in the upcoming Earth/Space series.

Risks and Benefits

A., B. and D.: These issues may be addressed to varying degrees in the upcoming Earth/Space series.

C.:  While probability risk analysis is not covered in existing RS4K materials, the process of using critical thinking tools is covered extensively in the Critical Thinking workbook in the Kogs-4-Kids™ series. Critical thinking tools and skills are also explained and promoted in the Laboratory Workbook experiments associated with RS4K chemistry, biology and physics texts. Chapter 1 (What is Physics?) in the Level I Physics Student Text explains the scientific method in detail.

Science and Technology

A. The entire Kogs-4-Kids series of workbooks are designed to illustrate how science has always affected our world and vice versa, with specifics in history, language, arts, philosophy, technology and critical thinking. Benefits and detrimental side effects are discussed as appropriate to each subject. For example, chapter 8 in the chemistry text explains energy molecules. The related Kogs chapter specifically discusses fats as a source of energy. The story of the development of margarine is used to illustrate several points, including the fact that harmful side effects of hydrogenating oil were discovered years after we began using margarine.

B. and C.: The introduction to Chemistry Connects to Technology specifically addresses the reciprocity of science and technology. An example that is used is how the accidental discovery of glass allowed magnification. That ability to magnify, in turn, allowed the use of telescopes in the study of the cosmos, which developed as a branch of science. The later use of curved mirrors demonstrates the progression of technology for even better scientific discoveries. All of the Kogs further delve into how discoveries alter society and vice versa. The effects of learning that Earth revolves around the Sun, and the trials of having that fact become accepted, is an excellent example discussed in the Kogs workbook for philosophy (chapter 4).

D.: Inventors and scientists from numerous countries – including Sweden, Russia, Italy, Iran, Greece and the U.S. – are identified specifically throughout both Gravitas’ textbooks and Kogs workbooks. Examples of how discoveries and inventions have benefited societies, and often the inventors personally, are throughout.

E.: Though the variety of settings for scientific work is not discussed as a subject in itself, the information is contained in the very wide array of examples of where and how inventions and discoveries have been made.

F.: Human testing is not a subject specifically discussed in existing RS4K materials.

G.: Because validation of results and conclusions is a subject covered repeatedly throughout RS4K and Kogs materials, examples are often given of the difference between scientific knowledge and the interpretation of that knowledge. The Kogs workbook on critical thinking is at the heart of this topic. Likewise, the Kogs workbook on philosophy explains the periods in human history when science and philosophy have been closely connected and when they have not.


This post relates to the technology and science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) and Kogs-4-Kids (K4K) texts align with these.

National Science Education Standards; Technology:  

ALL STUDENTS SHOULD DEVELOP AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE ABILITIES OF TECHNOLOGICAL DESIGN

·   Identify appropriate problems for technological design

·   Design a solution or product

·   Implement a proposed design

·   Evaluate completed technological designs or products

·   Communicate the process of technological design

ALL STUDENTS SHOULD DEVELOP UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

A.    Scientific inquiry and technological design have similarities and differences. Scientists propose explanations for questions about the natural world, and engineers propose solutions relating to human problems, needs, and aspirations. Technological solutions are temporary; technologies exist within nature and so they cannot contravene physical or biological principles; technological solutions have side effects; and technologies cost, carry risks, and provide benefits.

B.    Many different people in different cultures have made and continue to make contributions to science and technology.

C.    Science and technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and technique. Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed. Technology also provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.

D.    Perfectly designed solutions do not exist. All technological solutions have tradeoffs, such as safety, cost, efficiency, and appearance. Engineers often build in back-up systems to provide safety. Risk is part of living in a highly technological world. Reducing risk often results in new technology.

E.    Technological designs have constraints. Some constraints are unavoidable, for example, properties of materials, or effects of weather and friction; other constraints limit choices in the design, for example, environmental protection, human safety, and aesthetics.

F.    Technological solutions have intended benefits and unintended consequences. Some consequences can be predicted, others cannot.

Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments are generally true for Pre-Level I and Level II as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I RS4K texts and Kogs-4-Kids™ workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Kogs workbooks match the subject matter of each chapter but expand that subject in the context of the book’s category (philosophy, critical thinking, history, etc.). Because information is built upon with each chapter, many types of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

The Gravitas Kogs series has an entire workbook titled Chemistry Connects to Technology. The Kogs series also incorporates many of the knowledge points for Science and Technology in other Kogs workbooks for history, the arts, philosophy, critical thinking and language.

Understanding of the Abilities of Technological Design:

The introduction and 10 chapters of Chemistry Connects to Technology discuss how discoveries and technology design have been interwoven throughout history as technology was invented to address various needs. At the end of each chapter, the student is asked a series of questions encouraging the evaluation of how certain inventions were designed and why. At the end of the introduction, for example, the student is asked to choose one piece of technology he or she uses often, then make a list of the material used for each component. Further questions ask the student to break down one component even further: to think and write about things such as where it was made, who might have designed it, and which scientific principles would have been used in its design process.

Understandings about Science and Technology:

A.    In the Kogs-4-Kids workbook Chemistry Connects to Technology, each chapter relates to the science subject in the corresponding Real Science-4-Kids textbook. This allows students to understand how the scientific knowledge is translated into useful technology. Benefits and side effects are discusses as appropriate to each subject. For example, chapter 8 in the chemistry text explains energy molecules. The related Kogs chapter specifically discusses fats as a source of energy. The story of the development of margarine is used to illustrate several points, including that harmful side effects of hydrogenating oil were discovered years later.

B.    Inventors and scientists from numerous countries – including Sweden, Russia, Italy, Greece and the U.S. – are identified specifically throughout both Gravitas’ textbooks and Kogs workbooks.

C.   The introduction to Chemistry Connects to Technology specifically addresses the reciprocity of science and technology. An example that is used is how the accidental discovery of glass allowed magnification. That magnifcation, in turn, allowed the use of telescopes in the study of the cosmos, which developed as a branch of science. The later use of curved mirrors demonstrates the progression of technology for even better scientific discoveries.

D.   Just one of many examples is chapter 4 in the Kogs workbook Chemistry Connects to History. It discusses the ups and downs of developing a way to test acidity: from early glass probes that broke too easily, all the way through the business success of California professor Arnold Beckman, the inventor of the first modern pH meter.

E. and F. The story of the development of margarine [Chemistry Connects to Technology, chapter 8 (Fats)] is again a good example of how Gravitas books meet this part of the standard. Hydrogenation of oils provided a long list of benefits and harmful side effects were discovered years later. Benefits and drawbacks of dozens of technology inventions are discussed throughout the textbooks and Kogs workbooks.


This is the third in a series of posts relating to the life science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) teaching materials align with these.

National Science Education Standards; Life Science 4:

POPULATIONS AND ECOSYSTEMS

A.    A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.

B.    Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. Plants and some microorganisms are producers – they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.

C.   For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight. Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis. That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs.

D.   The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition. Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.

National Science Education Standards; Life Science 5:

DIVERSITY AND ADAPTATIONS OF ORGANISMS

A.    Millions of species of animals, plants, and microorganisms are alive today. Although different species might look dissimilar, the unity among organisms becomes apparent from an analysis of internal structures, the similarity of their chemical processes, and the evidence of common ancestry.

B.    Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations. Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.

C.   Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist.

Real Science-4-Kids meets these standards in the following ways:

The National Standards for “life science” corresponds with the RS4K Biology series. Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments with the national standards are generally true for Pre-Level I as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Because information is built upon with each chapter, many areas of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

Life Science section 4; Populations and Ecosystems:

A.    Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) discusses ecosystems in terms of the cycles necessary to maintain life, showing how populations and physical conditions work together. Many components of an ecosystem are taught in further detail in chapters 3 (Photosynthesis) through 9 (The Frog Life Cycle). A good specific example in chapter 5 (How a Plant Grows) is the description of how bacteria in the soil can make necessary nitrogen available to plants.

B.    The processes by which producers make their own food are discussed in detail in chapters focused on specific types of life such as chapter 3 (Photosynthesis) and chapter 5 (How a Plant Grows). How some specific consumers fit into the cycle is discussed in chapters 8 (The Butterfly Cycle) and 9 (The Frog Life Cycle). Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) and the colorful, informative illustrations within it detail how all components work together in an ecosystem.

C.   The entire chapter 3 (Photosynthesis) is devoted to explaining photosynthesis and how this process feeds the ecosystem. Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) describes the food cycle in words and illustration.

D.   The fact that Earth is a delicately balanced ecosystem that contains innumerable smaller, delicately balanced ecosystems is discussed in general terms in chapter 10 (Our Balanced World). Details of ecosystem limitations are not discussed in this text but may be addressed in either the upcoming Level II Biology materials and/or the “B” series for Pre-Level I and Level I.

Life Science section 5; Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms:

A.    A detailed discussion of how all life forms are classified by their similarities and differences is presented in chapter 1 (Living Creatures). RS4K is careful about using the term “common ancestry,” as it can have multiple meanings. RS4K introduces students to the common features found in all living creatures, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins. Also, Gravitas materials acknowledge a central axiom of biology that “life begets life” and, as such, current living organisms have come from common ancestral organisms. However, how far back the ancestral organisms derive is not clearly known and, therefore, Gravitas materials leave this question open.

B.    Gravitas materials recognize that living creatures evolve – that is, change over time – in that they do and have adapted to influences and conditions over time. For example, we know that today some bacteria can use nylon as a food source. This is an adaptation, because nylon was not available until recent times. However, Gravitas materials are careful not to promote a “historical narrative” extrapolated from such scientific data. It is the position of Gravitas that science must be rigid in admitting that there are things we do not yet know. That is the essence of “open inquiry,” a principle of science wholeheartedly endorsed by Gravitas.

C.   Fossilized evidence of extinct species may be covered in the upcoming Real Science-4-Kids Earth/Space series.


This is the second in a series of posts relating to the life science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) teaching materials align with these.

National Science Education Standards; Life Science 2:

REPRODUCTION AND HEREDITY

A.    Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems; because no individual organism lives forever, reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species. Some organisms reproduce asexually. Other organisms reproduce sexually.

B.    In many species, including humans, females produce eggs and males produce sperm. Plants also reproduce sexually – the egg and sperm are produced in the flowers of flowering plants. An egg and sperm unite to begin development of a new individual. That new individual receives genetic information from its mother (via the egg) and its father (via the sperm). Sexually produced offspring never are identical to either of their parents.

C.    Hereditary information is contained in genes, located in the chromosomes of each cell. Each gene carries a single unit of information. An inherited trait of an individual can be determined by one or by many genes, and a single gene can influence more than one trait. A human cell contains many thousands of different genes.

D.    The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits. Some traits are inherited and others result from interactions with the environment.

National Science Education Standards; Life Science 3:

REGULATION AND BEHAVIOR

 A.    All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment.

 B.    Regulation of an organism’s internal environment involves sensing the internal environment and changing physiological activities to keep conditions within the range required to survive.

 C.    Behavior is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental stimulus. A behavioral response requires coordination and communication at many levels, including cells, organ systems, and whole organisms. Behavioral response is a set of actions determined in part by heredity and in part from experience.

 D.    An organism’s behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species’ evolutionary history.

Real Science-4-Kids meets these standards in the following ways:

The National Standards for “life science” corresponds with the RS4K Biology series. Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments with the national standards are generally true for Pre-Level I as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Because information is built upon with each chapter, many areas of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

Life Science section 2: Reproduction and Heredity, subsections A-D:

There is a description in Biology Level I chapter 9 (The Frog Life Cycle) about where female frogs lay their eggs and that a male frog fertilizes the eggs. In chapter 4 (Parts of a Plant), the process of pollen fertilizing the eggs is diagramed and described.  However, the topics of asexual and sexual reproduction are not specifically covered in the textbooks as of July 2009. Subjects not covered by current books may be addressed in either the upcoming Level II Biology materials and/or the “B” series for Pre-Level I and Level I.

Life Science section 3: Regulation and Heredity

A. & B.:  The Level I Biology Student Text and corresponding experiments in the Laboratory Workbook provide information relevant to subsections A and B under Regulation and Heredity. Chapter 2 (Cells – The Building Blocks of Life) explains both external and internal influences at the cellular level. Several subsequent chapters examine very specific organism responses to both external and internal environmental changes by explaining in great detail natural processes and life cycles. A very specific example is that chapter 5 (How a Plant Grows) explains how gravity and other factors help a plant seed grow “up” even if the seed is upside down under the soil. Other especially relevant chapters include: chapters 3 (Photosynthesis), 4 (Parts of a Plant), 7 (Protists II), 8 (The Butterfly Cycle), and 9 (The Frog Life Cycle). Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) relates information on how systems work together in our environment and how humans interact with the cycles of nature.

C & D.:  Behavior responses resulting from internal and external stimuli as a topic are not covered in the Pre-Level I and Level I Biology texts as of July 2009. Heredity and adaptation are also not addressed. However, topics not covered by current books may be addressed in either the upcoming Level II Biology materials and/or the “B” series for Pre-Level I and Level I.


This is the first in a series of posts relating to the life science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) teaching materials align with these.

National Science Education Standards; Life Science 1:

STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION IN LIVING SYSTEMS

A.    Living systems at all levels of organization demonstrate the complementary nature of structure and function. Important levels of organization for structure and function include cells, organs, tissues, organ systems, whole organisms, and ecosystems.

B.    All organisms are composed of cells – the fundamental unit of life. Most organisms are single cells; other organisms, including humans, are multi-cellular.

C.    Cells carry on the many functions needed to sustain life. They grow and divide, thereby producing more cells. This requires that they take in nutrients, which they use to provide energy for the work that cells do and to make the materials that a cell or an organism needs.

D.    Specialized cells perform specialized functions in multi-cellular organisms. Groups of specialized cells cooperate to form a tissue, such as a muscle. Different tissues are in turn grouped together to form larger functional units, called organs. Each type of cell, tissue, and organs has a distinct structure and set of functions that serve the organism as a whole.

E.    The human organism has systems for digestion, respiration, reproduction, circulation, excretion, movement, control, and coordination, and for protection from disease. These systems interact with one another.

F.    Disease is a breakdown in structures or functions of an organism. Some diseases are the result of intrinsic failures of the system. Others are the result of damage by infection by other organisms.

 

Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

The National Standards for “life science” corresponds with the RS4K Biology series. Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments with the national standards are generally true for Pre-Level I as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Because information is built upon with each chapter, many areas of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

A.    The Student Textbook for biology and the corresponding experiments in the Laboratory Workbook have numerous chapters specifically addressing the knowledge listed in section A above. Primary are chapter 1 (Living Creatures), chapter 2 (Cells – The Building Blocks of Life), and chapter 10 (Our Balanced World).

B.    Chapter 2 (Cells – The Building Blocks of Life) in the biology texts specifically describe cells as the fundamental unit of life, from single cells to complex, multi-cellular organisms like humans. All subsequent chapters go into more detail.

C.    The biology chapters most directly dealing with the functions of cells include: chapter 2 (Cells – The Building Blocks of Life), includes a wonderful illustration page of the small “factory” that is a cell; chapter 3 (Photosynthesis), because it teaches how certain plant cells have the capacity to use the sun’s light as food; and chapter 7 (Protists II), because the text and the related experiments specifically address how a protist performs the function of “eating.”

D.    Tissues, organs and general cellular structure are primarily addressed in chapter 2 (Cells – The Building Blocks of Life), and virtually all other chapter contribute more on this subject. For example, chapter 5 (How a Plant Grows) has a section on how a plant receives a signal that gives it instructions for functions such as whether to grow up or down.

E.    These systems are covered in depth for certain non-human organisms in chapters 3 (Photosynthesis), 4 (Parts of a Plant), 5 (How a Plant Grows), 6 (Protists I), 7 (Protists II), 8 (The Butterfly Cycle), and 9 (The Frog Life Cycle). Chapter 10 (Our Balanced World) relates information on how systems work together in our environment and how humans interact with the cycles of nature.

F.    Diseases are not specifically covered in the textbooks as of July 2009, but subjects not covered by current books will be addressed in either the upcoming Level II Biology materials and/or the “B” series for Pre-Level I and Level I.


This is the third in a series of posts relating to the physical science content standards for grades 5 through 8 of the 2005 National Science Education Standards from the National Research Council. We’ll look at how Real Science-4-Kids (RS4K) and Kogs-4-Kids (K4K) texts align with these.

National Science Education Standards; Physical Science 3:

TRANSFER OF ENERGY

A.    Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred in many ways.

B.    Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until both reach the same temperature.

C.    Light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection). To see an object, light from that object–emitted by or scattered from it–must enter the eye.

D.    Electrical circuits provide a means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and chemical changes are produced.

E.    In most chemical and nuclear reactions, energy is transferred into or out of a system. Heat, light, mechanical motion, or electricity might all be involved in such transfers.

F.    The sun is a major source of energy for changes on the earth’s surface. The sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches the earth, transferring energy from the sun to the earth. The sun’s energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.

 

Real Science-4-Kids meets this standard in the following ways:

The National Standards for “physical science” includes the subjects of chemistry and physics (“life science” or biology is addressed separately). Because each level of the RS4K curricula covers subjects in the same order (with more depth added for higher levels), the following alignments are generally true for Pre-Level I and Level II as well as Level I. However, specific examples are taken from Level I texts and workbooks since that age range most closely matches that of the National Standards presented here. Kogs workbooks match the subject matter of each chapter but expand that subject in the context of the book’s category (philosophy, critical thinking, history, etc.). Because information is built upon with each chapter, many types of knowledge in the standards show up in virtually all chapters. However, the key chapters for each section are shown below.

A.    The Student Textbook for physics and the corresponding experiments in the Laboratory Workbook have numerous chapters specifically addressing the knowledge listed in section A above. They include: chapter 2 (Force, Energy and Work), chapter 3 (Potential and Kinetic Energy), chapter 4 (Motion), chapter 5 (Energy of Atoms and Molecules), chapter 6 (Electrical Energy and Charge), and chapter 9 (Light and Sound). In the Level I Chemistry Student Text, the energy in foods is addressed in chapter 8 (Energy Molecules).

B.    The physics books address the knowledge listed in section B above with chapter 7 (Moving Electric Charges and Heat).

C.    The physics books address the knowledge listed in section C above primarily in chapter 9 (Light and Sound). The related experiment instructs students on how to explore both reflection and refraction using a prism.

D.    Electrical circuits are addressed in the physics texts in several ways and places. Primary discussions are in chapter 5 (Energy of Atoms and Molecules), chapter 6 (Electrical Energy and Charge), chapter 7 (Moving Electric Charges and Heat) and chapter 8 (Magnets and Electromagnets).

E.    Chemical and nuclear reactions are discussed primarily in the physics books in chapter 5 (Energy of Atoms and Molecules). In the chemistry books, reactions are explained primarily in chapter 3 (Chemical Reactions) and chapter 8 (Energy Molecules).

F.    The wavelengths of light are covered in detail in the physics books in chapter 9 (Light and Sound). The sun’s energy is also discussed at the end of chapter 10 (Conservation of Energy).