Give your kids the advantage with the award winning easy-to-teach Real Science-4-Kids  

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

 

National Science Education Standards; Science as Inquiry, subsection 7: COMMUNICATE SCIENTIFIC PROCEDURES AND EXPLANATIONS. 


With practice, students should become competent at communicating experimental methods, following instructions, describing observations, summarizing the results of other groups, and telling other students about investigations and explanations.

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

All experiments in Real Science-4-Kids laboratory workbooks provide space for students to write their own hypothesis, objective, results and conclusions. The description of the experiment and the steps to be performed shape the hypothesis and objective, of course, but students must find the words to state precisely what they will be testing and why.

And, although the lab workbooks sometimes provide specific tables or charts for recording observations, students are coached to carefully record only their own observations. They are asked to be sure any conclusions they write are “valid,” thus requiring more thoughtful communication based only on the results of their experiment.

In the additional experiment sheets provided in Club Services, students are asked to write out the steps they will take to perform the experiment variation.

For many experiments, teachers can find helpful tips in the their manuals to better guide students as they write valid conclusions.


Cultivating curiosity should be a high priority for everyone teaching young people. When students develop their curiosity and receive validation for it, they automatically develop a love of learning. 

Though “cultivating curiosity” may sound very broad or complex, it can be broken down into three basic steps:  

First, encourage students to ask questions. As just one example, help them take notice of the unique abilities of various creatures when they are out in nature. Watching a lizard scurry up the side of a rock might lead to questions such as: How many animals can move along a vertical surface? How do they do it? Can they hang upside down or will they fall? 

With just a little practice, it can become fun to see how many “common” things around us can turn into interesting questions. It is not necessary for teachers to know all the answers. In fact, it is usually preferable not to provide an answer even when it is known.

Next, it is often helpful to use “open inquiry” when helping students explore their questions. At times, a “guided inquiry” process is best to use, such as when you want students to follow certain steps to learn specific facts or scientific laws. A guided inquiry will tell students the question to be answered (an experiment’s hypothesis, for example), then give them the steps they must follow to arrive at the “right” answer to the question. Learning to use a math formula to solve a particular equation is an example.

But to encourage students to learn how to think through things for themselves – and thus follow up on their curiosity – use open inquiry. It gives them practice in using the scientific method and learning the processes of critical thinking. Open inquiry says “here is the situation at hand” and allows students to form their own question to be answered.

Finally, in order to come to valid conclusions that may answer their questions, students must learn to test carefully. They must make careful and clear observations or undertake research from reliable sources. Using objective data they gather, they must then learn not to “jump” to conclusions but to really “test” their own conclusions to be sure they are valid.

In Real Science-4-Kids Laboratory Workbooks, details of an experiment illustrating the facts learned in the textbooks are laid out for students. But students are then asked to write the question they want to answer. That is, they come up with an hypothesis and an objective. Then they do follow specific instructions for the experiment, but they are asked to record their observations about what actually happened. Once they have a chance to think about the facts they observed, they are asked to write a valid conclusion based on their careful “tests.”


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

 

National Science Education Standards; Science as Inquiry, subsection 6: RECOGNIZE AND ANALYZE ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS AND PREDICTIONS. 


 

Students should develop the ability to listen to and respect the explanations proposed by other students. They should remain open to and acknowledge different ideas and explanations, be able to accept the skepticism of others, and consider alternative explanations.


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


Real Science-4-Kids and Kogs-4-Kids books specifically encourage the philosophy and practice of “open inquiry.” This encourages students to ask questions without fear and then perform observations or experiments that can help answer those questions. The underlying theory is that there is nothing more important in teaching science to children than teaching them to ask “What if…?”

Students are asked to develop their own hypotheses and objectives with each experiment and then write their own valid conclusions. They learn that there is not just one way to ask the “right” question and not just one acceptable conclusion. 

Often the texts reach out to put particular science facts or theories in context with history, and students learn that what have been considered “true” science facts have changed greatly over time. The Kogs are especially helpful in showing students that throughout history, often the most controversial new ideas were the ones later proven to be true. 

This sample from the Chemistry Level 1 History Kog, for example, provides some history and then asks students questions about how we come to have certain beliefs:

For centuries, humans used the different elements, but they did not try to figure out what they were. A Greek philosopher named Democritus (465 BC) first proposed that matter exists in the form of extremely small particles he called “atoms.” But no one believed him! Everyone thought that Aristotle was right and that matter was made of air, water, fire, and earth. It took almost 2000 years before atoms were considered the basic unit of all matter. 

So for 2000 years everyone believed that all things were made of air, fire, water and earth. What happened to change this belief? Why do we know today that all things are made of atoms?


Home school parents often say they are nervous about teaching science to their children. Guess what? It appears most of our elementary school teachers feel the same!

According to an article in the January issue of NSTA Reports, the National Science Teachers Association monthly newspaper, only about 25% of elementary teachers reported feeling qualified to teach science, compared to 75% and 60% who felt well qualified to teach language arts and mathematics, respectively.

Nearly 75% of the teachers questioned said they needed substantial professional development to deepen their own science content knowledge.

Elementary school teachers had provided these responses on a National Survey of Science and Math Education conducted by Horizon Research.

Our school systems’ preparedness is in stark contrast to the importance of science. NSTA Executive Director Francis Eberle said in the article, “People need to understand enough science to make decisions as a citizen, whether it’s about global warming, health care, energy production, or homeland security.”

Gravitas works to shore up confidence for teaching science for kids in two ways: The Student Texts use age-appropriate language and diagrams while staying true to real science terms and facts, so students get most of the information they need right from their own science textbook. Next, Gravitas Teacher Manuals provide extra background information and questions parents can use to coach students about experiments in the Laboratory Workbooks. 

Gravitas is not only committed to helping home school parents worry less about teaching science, but also public and private school teachers. Real Science-4-Kids materials can be used in a classroom setting.

Please share with us how YOU have overcome feeling insecure about teaching science.