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Science Education

for grades K-8 and older beginning science learners


Nebel’s Elementary Education: Creating A Tapestry Of Learning

Table Of Contents With Synopsis Of Each Chapter

Note that the subject matter of the text is divided into themes of related topics. The teaching strategy will be to  shift among themes as student’s interest, weather conditions, and special opportunities may dictate, and thus, pursue each to the topics more or less in tandem, integrating them as you go. This allows great flexibility while still providing broad coverage and rigor.

Preface And Introduction

Description: Effective learning is not achieved by rote memorization of a certain body of facts. It is achieved as facts are based on real-life experience, investigative endeavors and observations, and further, as these pieces are integrated into a framework of understanding in which the facts interrelate and reinforce one another. Effective learning is further developed as this framework of understanding is constantly called upon for rational thinking. Adhering to these principles, each chapter of this text is constructed as a continuum of lessons and investigative activities, each one of which is designed to tie into and build upon a childs real-life experience. In turn, the teaching of seminaring draws students to use each lesson as a stepping-stone to the next. Thus, students are guided to systematically and continually expand their knowledge and understanding. Web references for pursuing topics further, and a means for ongoing support are given.

Chapter 1. Teaching Strategies  

Description: As in needing different tools for different jobs, teaching methods should vary with the type of learning to be conveyed. Four basic teaching strategies and their pros and cons in conveying different sorts of information or skills are discussed. Particular emphasis is given to the need to help students assimilate new learning into their ever-expanding framework of understanding, which they will then use in critical thinking, reasoning and questioning. Seminaring or intensive interactive discussion is promoted as the means of doing this. Additional topics include the importance of questioning, what generates the fun in learning, and a baloney detection kit.

Theme 1. Communication   

Description: There is a basic human desire and need to communicate. Teaching from the viewpoint of facilitating the childs ability to communicate will harness their natural drive and passions. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 2: Reading, Writing, And Fine Arts   

Description: Gives simple instructions regarding the teaching of reading and writing. Points of emphasis include using a combination of phonics and whole-word recognition; separating the translation of letters into words and reading for comprehension; using reading and writing to reinforce one another; and immediately putting both reading and writing to use in the study and learning of other subject material. Effectiveness of maintaining student notebooks as a means of enhancing leaning, developing writing skills, and providing a means for continuing communication between parents, teacher, and students is promoted. Fine arts are put in the context of nonverbal forms of communication.

Theme 2. Values, Purpose, History, And Society   

Description: This Theme integrates character education, economics and government since the latter subjects are where peoples values have the most impact on society. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 3. Values, Self-Confidence, And Purpose: Determiners Of History, Past, Present, And Future

Description: Starts with making an important distinction between self-confidence and self-esteem, and between values and virtues. Provides a listing of and straight-forward instructions regarding the teaching of virtues, and expands this into the setting and achieving goals and developing a sense of purpose. Four key virtues, service, creativity, unity, and justice are advanced as guiding virtues. Finally, a method of teaching history that makes it more relevant to children, makes them recognize how they, themselves, are participants, and sets virtues and purpose as central toward determining the future, is advanced.

Chapter 4. Economics: Exchanging Goods And Services

Description: Economics is not about money; it is about exchanging goods and services. Money is only a medium to facilitate the exchange. All work, in final analysis, is providing a service for others. Beyond these basic points, this chapter addresses natural resources and natural services, brings students (via problem solving) to distinguish between gross and net profit, how each factor effects the others in the price/supply/demand relationship, and the role of competition. Borrowing, lending, and interest rates, including their calculation, are covered. Finally, pitfalls of the free market system, especially regarding environmental impacts, the tragedy of the commons, and the consequent need for regulations regarding environmental and consumer protection are discussed. The sorts of regulations currently in place are addressed.

Chapter 5. Government And Leadership   

Description: Starts by pointing out that the basic functions of government are keeping order and providing services, aspects even young children can relate to. Then, children are made aware of the many familiar things are actually government services, e.g., public schools, roads, parks, libraries, police, and how they are paid for—taxes. The chapter progresses to give students an understanding of how government (US) is organized to provide these services and, most importantly, how it is decided what and how much of any given service to provide. Finally, students will discover the ways in which they may have a voice in the decisions through voting or direct involvement. Aspects of good leadership and suggestions toward teaching leadership skills are given.

Theme 3. Discovering Our Planet Earth.

Description: Integrates observations of the apparent movements of the sun with basic aspects of the solar system, geography, and ecology. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 6. Geography, Climates And Seasons, And The Heavens Above  

Description: Building on students direct observations and investigations, this Chapter ties basic aspects of the solar system, the Earths rotation and its orbiting the sun, to understanding causes for the changing seasons, different climates in different regions of the world, and associated ecosystems. In the process, students learn the skills of record keeping, how to read, draw and follow maps including the use of a compass, and to tell time and directions from the position of the sun. Phases of the moon, eclipses, tides, and apparent star movements are additional topics covered.

Theme 4. Living, Nonliving, And Human-Made Things

Description: This Theme introduction contains specific pointers regarding nurturing and keeping alive a preschoolers natural inclination to explore, discover, and learn. It also launches a practical, hands-on introduction to organization and categorization that will set the stage for classification of living things and other things as well. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 7. The World Of Living Things

Description: Children are encouraged to make collections of sightings of or actual living things. Dos and donts regarding collection of living things are given. From collections children are guided to discern the attributes common to all living things, and then learn to fit them into the groups and subgroups of the accepted classification scheme from kingdom to species. This advances toward a general knowledge and appreciation of the range of different sorts of living things that inhabit our planet, and the major taxonomic groups that they fall into. Understanding principles of ecology and ecosystems is another outcome as students are led to consider how each organism interacts with others and its environment. Geographical knowledge is expanded as students relate plants and animals to environments in different regions of the world.

Chapter 8. Animal Science (With Emphasis On The Human Body)   

Description: Paralleling the collection, identification, and ecological considerations, this Chapter gives specific attention to how animals and plants actually function, i.e., their anatomy and physiology. This Chapter instructs you in a unique approach that may be used to give even first graders an overall comprehension of the body, its major organs, and what each does to maintain the body as a whole. This overview may be reinforced repeatedly with greater detail and understanding at higher grade levels. The cellular nature of all tissues, the principles of cell division and differentiation, embryology, and hormonal controls are included, giving emphasis to the importance of good nutrition and avoidance of substance abuse.

Chapter 9. Plant Science

Description: Presents practical aspects of growing vegetables and flowers including considerations of soil, soil fertility, and composting. Instructions are given for tub gardens that can be placed almost anywhere. Beyond practical aspects, first graders are guided to make basic observations concerning germination and functions of roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. At higher grade levels, studies progress to examining how plant growth occurs on a cellular level. Flower parts and their roles in reproduction, basic genetics, responses to light and gravity, photosynthesis, and asexual reproduction or cloning are also covered.

Chapter 10. Natural Nonliving And Human-Made Things   

Description: Progressing from the basic idea of the particulate nature of matter, this Chapter introduces students to the concept of atoms and molecules and how they interact with one another to give solids, liquids, and gases. Additional attributes of matter, e.g., dissolving and crystallization, the distinction between matter and energy, the essence of chemical reactions, and the Law of Conservation of Matter are also addressed. Simple activities give students experiential understanding of the different gasses in the atmosphere. Studies of different rock types unfold the Earths history in terms of erosion, sedimentation, and plate tectonics. Regarding human-made things, emphasis is given to the fact that they all start with one or more naturally occurring raw materials. Students will learn to identify the starting raw material(s) for human-made products setting the stage for consideration of the technologies involved in production.

Theme 5. Numerical Skills

Description: In real life, numbers used in calculations are never naked. They always refer to numbers of particular things or units of measurement. Thus, from early counting forward, emphasis is placed on always keeping numbers clothed, that is, connected to an item or unit of measurement. Beyond integrating reading and writing with math, this technique builds a solid foundation for critical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 11. Numbers, Units Of Measurement, Calculations, And Thinking   

Description: Going beyond the teaching of traditional numerical skills, lessons found here are unique in their early emphasis on having students learn measuring skills (for lengths, weights, and volumes) using both English and metric units. Far from burdensome, however, this familiarity with units of measurement provides students with an invaluable visual aid for understanding and working with fractions, decimals, areas, volumes, and concepts such as rate, pressure, and density. Likewise, it opens up doors for addressing and solving any number of practical word problems. The use of conversion factors, e.g. 12 inches/one foot, and canceling units as well as numbers is described in detail and promoted as a tool in problem solving. Concepts and calculations involving geometric figures, percents, and probability are also covered.

Theme 6. Water Wonders

Description: Water figures into virtually every other area of study. Therefore, water becomes a major cord integrating diverse areas of investigation. But much of this hinges on an understanding of water itself, and its behavior. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 12. Water: Where It Comes From And Where It Goes

  Description: From experiential learning regarding evaporation and condensation, children are guided to reason out the basic features of the water cycle, set up a demonstration of the water cycle in a bowl, and observe that water is also purified in the evaporation/condensation phase of the cycle. Atmospheric circulation patterns causing some areas to receive high rainfall while other areas receive very little is addressed. Movement of water over and through the ground is considered along with implications for groundwater supplies. Erosion and its prevention are emphasized. Finally, attention is given to water pollution and its prevention, sources of water for human use, the treatment and purification of drinking water supplies, and the treatment and disposal of sewage or wastewater.

Theme 7. Physical Forces And Principles

Description: The investigations and experimentation presented in this Theme will give students an understanding, including some basic principles and concepts, concerning motions and mechanics, vibrations and sound, convection currents and density, electricity and its generation, engines and fuels, and light and optics. Useful in itself for understanding many real life issues, this understanding will create a solid foundation for future studies in many areas of science and industry. (Objectives for this Theme will be found at the end of this introduction.)

Chapter 13. Gravity, Momentum, Vibrations, And Sound  

Description: Through investigative activities, students will discover various parameters of gravity and momentum. Outcomes will include understanding how things fly, weightlessness in space, the distinction between mass and weight, and planetary motions. Experimentation with inclined planes reveals the principle that force time distance of the load equals force times distance of the pull. Students will analyze pendulums and oscillating masses on the end of a steel rod. The latter extends to understanding vibrations and sound, and the ability to analyze all sound instruments in terms of vibrations.

Chapter 14. Action And Reaction, Levers, Convection Currents, And Density   

Description: Through investigative activities, children will discover the basic physical principle of action and reaction, or, in child-friendly terms, push pushes back. Using this principle, they will interpret the action of propellers, blowers, jet engines, and rockets. Experimentation with levers, pulleys, and gears reinforces the fact that force times distance of the load equals force times distance of the pull. Siphons are likewise addressed. Students are guided to interpret the cause of convection currents by observing changes in the volume of air and water that occur with changes in temperature and ascertained change in density. They will learn to determine unknown liquids or solids by determining density, and to explain how metal ships float.

Chapter 15. Energy: Making Things Go   

Description: Gives instructions for guiding young children to recognize forms of energy by analyzing what it takes to make things go or happen. Similarly they will recognize how forms of energy may be interconverted, but always with a loss. By examining various systems, including plants and animals, students ascertain that keeping any system running requires a constant input of new energy. Developing an understanding of electrical circuits including concepts of volts, amps, and resistance is give attention, as is the interplay of electric currents and magnetic fields. The latter leads to an understanding of motors, generators, and other electrical devices. The workings of various engines, the other major drivers in todays world, are also addressed. Pros and cons of present and future energy sources regarding pollution and sustainability wraps up the Chapter.

Chapter 16. Light, Rainbows, And Waves

Description: Beginning with a simple distinction between light and dark, this Chapter guides children to distinguish between absorption and reflection and how objects appear different colors, including black, white, and shades of gray. Experimentation reveals how light is bent as it passes from one medium to another and leads to interpreting the optical properties of simple lenses and optical instruments. Finally, students are introduced to the wave nature of light and the electromagnetic spectrum. Covered also are polarized light, black lights, and concepts of solar heating, global warming, and the ozone shield.

Appendix A: Instructions For Drawing Graphs  

Description: Instructions for drawing graphs

Appendix B

Description: How to use a metric balance

Appendix: C  

Description: Common units of measurement, English and metric

Appendix D: Places To Purchase Equipment

Description: Places to purchase equipment