Friday, October 29, 2010

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding

After looking here and there and everywhere for a science curriculum. I have found it!

This curriculum works for me on several levels:

The Threads
The threads are broken into four areas; (A) Nature of Matter, (B) Life Science, (C) Physical Science, (D) Earth and Space Science. Lessons are outlined not in sequential order, but by these four threads. This has led to some confusion as to what order the lessons should be completed. There is a very informative yahoo group   (you will need to sign in and go to K5Science/) that is frequented by the author. My question was answered by the author the same day. Anyway, in the files section there is a wonderful sequence written by a member. I am using this for our sequence of study.
Lessons build on each other, but are not sequential if that makes sense. At the files section of the yahoo group someone has thoughtfully laid out the materials you will need by lesson. This is very helpful for pre-planning.

Ease of Use
The lessons in this curriculum are very easy to implement and simple to understand. Science is not really my thing, so I need clear instruction. Each lessons has about twelve sections: Overview, Time Required, Objectives, Required Background, Materials, Teachable Moments, Methods and Procedures, Questions/Discussion/Activities to Review..., To Parents and Others Providing Support, Connections to Other Topics and Follow-up to Higher Levels, National Science Education Standards, and lastly Books for Correlated Reading. Don't freak out this is still light reading.

For Lesson A-3 : Air Is a Substance, there are three parts to the Methods and Procedures section. Part 1 is Introductory Discussion, Part 2 is Does Air Occupy Space?, and Part 3 is Does Air Have Weight? You are encouraged to pick and choose which parts of the Methods and Procedures you will use for each given lesson. You are also advised to vary the parts you complete. For example, completing parts 1 and 3 for Lesson A-3 and parts 2 and 3 for Lesson B-7.

Activities and Experiments
There are plenty of "teachable moments", activities, and experiments in each of the lessons. You can definitely use this as a one stop shop for science. I have found that the library and various websites can be used easily to supplement to the lessons if I feel the need.

Further Study
Dr. Nebel has the next volume out soon, so you won't have to change curriculum/approaches again for a few years.

You will need the book, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. Amazon has this for about $23.00. I was able to find mine used at Abebooks. You probably need very little "fancy" equipment to complete the experiments in the book. A minimally stocked science shelf and a kitchen "junk drawer", you should already of everything you need.

A possible drawback to the curriculum would be that there are no workbooks or worksheets to go with the curriculum. Every once in a while I feel that Optimus really "must" have a worksheet for a lesson. I find that I can easily whip one up in a Word document. Something like this worksheet I made for Air is a Substance.

All in all, I really like this curriculum. I would say that most of it could also be used for kids older than K-2. It would certainly be a great idea to give them a firm foundation for future science exploration!

take care

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