Science is back

Science has been neglected in recent years, as schools focused on reading and math. But, starting in 2007-08, No Child Left Behind requires states to test students in science at three grade levels. Science instruction is getting attention again, Education Week reports.

(Teacher Melissa) Jaeger served on a committee in her district that met over a two-year period to study Michigan’s state standards for science and then adopted benchmarks for what students should be learning in each grade. A major challenge was eliminating redundancy in lesson plans between grade levels, she said. Certain topics, such as the life cycle of butterflies, the study of dinosaurs, or earth science generally, were popular among teachers in nearly every grade, she recalled. Other concepts, such as astronomy, were receiving scant attention, the committee found.

I went to school in the alleged good old days. We had no science instruction till fifth grade,and no serious science instruction till seventh grade. I sure could tell an oak leaf from a maple though. And I was strong on the duck-billed platypus.

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  1. Independent George says:

    What’s not to love about the duck-billed platypus? It’s the exception to nearly every classification system in biology.

  2. Engineer-Poet says:

    We definitely need more and better science education.  Just today I found yet another person who’d apparently never heard of the Law of Conservation of Energy.

    Of course, to have good science education we can’t have misinformation being presented as fact in classrooms.  A solid grounding in basic science has to be a requirement for accreditation of education school programs.

  3. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to teach reading and math first, and *then* teach science. Not everything needs to be taught in every grade.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Photo for EdSec. Might even add that you need to learn how to sit down, shut up and pay attention even before you learn to read and calculate.

  5. Great News! Down here in California’s “Imperial” Valley, the teaching of science in our elementary district has been sporadic (at best) as many primary school teachers have all but abandoned both science and history in favor or reading and math.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Shhh! Don’t let the politicians know. If everyone could read and add, lots of politicians would have to get real jobs.

  7. Bluemount says:

    I didn’t have a problem with my 3rd grader researching the Amazon ecosystem. It was a lot of fun, the kind of activity that builds interest and engagement with the subject. It is the 10% of inspiration that lays the groundwork for the 90% of perspiration that produces good science. What I did not like was it was poorly evaluated. It was a project that should have received the authoritive analysis of a science fair; instead it did more to teach children that science and story hour are similar events.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Blue, the only problem is that most of what you taught about the Amazon was likely Ted Turner Tommyrot.

  9. Bluemount says:

    Walter since you have no idea and don’t care, you are evaluating yourself.

  10. Steve LaBonne says:

    As a scientist, I’m with photon. 99% of the “science instruction” in the lower elementary grades isn’t worth squat and could readily be dispensed with. Literacy and numeracy need to be the priorities; serious study of science isn’t possible until those skills are well-established.

  11. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    I mostly agree that quality science instruction should begin at the secondary level, but simple experiments and their guiding scientific principles can be taught in elementary school. Students are usually curious and fascinated with ‘hands-on’ science activities, so why should they be denied these experiences until their teens? We just concluded a great unit on mixtures and solutions in my 5th grade class and even my lower achievers were very motivated! Literacy, math and science are not mutually exclusive!

  12. Steve LaBonne says:

    Actually I think we agree more than disagree, that’s why I specified “lower” elementary grades in my comment. 5th grade seems to me just about the right place to start, and I also like the emphasis on hands-on activities.

  13. I’m not so sure that teachers and educators have a right to dictate at what age science instruction (or any other instruction) should begin.

    First of all, people differ. The “one size fits all” approach does not lead to quality education. As for proper science education, and teaching the scientific method – that can be done at an early age.