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science scope and sequence...

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I'm really struggling with science this year. And as I look ahead I am at a loss of what I want to cover... As I look at various programs, I find myself thinking whether or not they fulfill our long term goals.

I know I want our children ready for high school level biology by 9th grade. So, help me out! What material should be covered before that? Help me build a scope and sequence that will prepare them for high school.

My hope is knowing where I want them will help me evaluate curriculum. I'm just not sure what the prerequisites are for high school.


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Hey! I didn't know you were in the same boat! lol.


As it stands, highschool science doesn't really presume a good deal of background knowledge, so I think its safe to go with what works. Which grades are you looking for?

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I am (sort of) doing 2 things. 1) I'm looking for a set of textbooks to use a 'spine'. 2) Continue doing non-fiction reading in science subtopics via the library.


For item 1 on my list, there are there are several free McGraw Hill textbooks that I found through this forum and I'm sorely tempted to just use them. My boys are solid readers and they are good at remembering what they read and making connections so I'm thinking of just starting we definitely wont be doing 1 book per year (we'll probably finish the 1st-5th grade texts by the end of Dec.)


Item 2 is easy--just keep going to the Jr. non-fiction section at the library and read the books. We try and discuss the material as well.


I keep reminding myself not to over complicate the issue of elementary school. After all, it is elementary, my dear Watson.

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I do not consider any particular content mandatory before high school. My goals for pre-high school science are to expose my kids to a broad array of topics and to keep the curiosity and interest alive. I have not liked any formal curricula and programs I have seen. We have used non-fiction books, documentary, and field trips.

On this foundation we then build a systematic science study in high school.


The only things a student needs in order to be ready for high school biology are adequate reading skills.

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Given the age of your kids, you might look at Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding by Bernard Nebel.

It's definitely not open and go, but it's what I'd choose to use if I were doing it all over.

He runs two yahoo groups as well that he posts on regularly if people have questions.

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I agree with Regentrude that it's not like being ready for high school level composition or ready for high school level algebra or whatever.  Basic thinking skills, reading skills, note taking skills, etc. are really going to be the main skills a child needs.  I mean, sure, a child who has never heard of mammals or cells is going to be at a disadvantage, but it would take a lot of ignoring to get to that point at age 14 for a child in a household where people discuss and ask questions and read books.


Just do something.  Watch videos, read books, do nature studies, do a curricula, take advantage of local science museums or classes.  Don't worry too much about it.

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I have always been fairly loose with science (never following a curriculum, per se) and yet my kids have a great level of scientific literacy. My 9 year old and I recently read The Magic of Reality and watched Your Inner Fish series on PBS (excellent, BTW). We're following this up with beginning The Big History project this week (the 6-8 hour version for parents, rather than the full-high school course). I plan to read Dr. Art's Guide to Science with her over the summer. That will probably be about all the official science we do until this time next year, other than reading about science-related current events, discussing topics as they crop up naturally in our lives, etc. I may encourage her to participate in a science fair next year, just to motivate us to "do" some science, rather than just reading about it!


My older girls are both bigs fans of their PS science classes and have been lucky enough to take 2 science classes each for next year with pretty great teachers. I'm sure that sets the tone for my youngers; we've become a science-loving family some how.

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We are interest driven when it comes to science.  But the only thing I reinforce or lead them to is the scientific method.  Young elementary that would mean asking a question, making a guess based on what they already know or think and then finding the answer.   As they get older then the terminology, steps, and actual experiments, are done enough so they understand.  

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I love making science plans!  :001_wub:   And I am very happy to help.


A year ago, I ran a thread to identify a general scope and sequence for K-12 science.  Not everyone agreed, but below is what we generally came up with.  Give it a read over, and if you want me to walk you through  making a plan, I would love to help.


Ruth in NZ



Elementary level goals

Content: Interest driven. There are no requirements for content in elementary

1) Reading: able to read nonfiction at increased difficulty over time
2) Output: able to summarize what has been learned, verbally or in writing
3) Observation: ability to see what is actually there, not what you expect to see
4) Math: at grade level

1) Curiosity: "wanting to understand the world"(Regentrude). Including the desire to find answers either through books, observation, or tinkering
2) Enthusiasm towards science (or at least a positive attitude)

Middle School level goals

Content: Broad overview of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics (this can be systematic or interest driven). High school science is easier if it is not the first time the material has been encountered.

Skills (students who already possess these skills by 9th grade will be set to succeed in high school science):
1) Reading: Ability to read difficult text. Ability to interpret graphs, charts, and diagrams.
2) Writing: Ability to write succinct answers to "short-answer" questions including evaluate, interpret, integrate, compare and contrast, critique, etc.
3) Math: at grade level. Including the ability to identify and draw appropriate graphs for the data
4) Logical thinking and problem solving capability
5) Study skills, reading a textbook, organization skills, time management, note taking
6) Scientific Method: general understanding of how experiments are replicated and controlled, how hypotheses are are accepted or rejected (this does not need to be a detailed understanding, although it could be if you want to spend the time doing it in middle school to save some time in highschool)

Reinforce 1 and 2: curiosity and enthusiasm
3) Scepticism: "inquire what facts substantiate a claim" (Regentrude)
4) Acceptance of falsification: Ability to reject your hypotheses; to not have your ego tied to your ideas.

High School level goals

1) Science curriculum, including interdisciplinary topics
2) Current events: including politics, pseudoscience, and ethical decision making (I need to think more about this one)
3) Science careers: understanding the peer review process, variety of methods to answering questions (observational, theoretical, statistical, experimental, etc)(Regentrude), double blind studies (need to think more about this one too)

Reinforce skills 1-5: reading, writing, math, logical thinking/problem solving, and study skills

6) Scientific method:
a) Forming a hypothesis and identifying if it is answerable
B) Collecting background information
c) Designing systematic methods to answer a question (including objective measurement, defining terms, and replication and controls if doing an experiment)
d) Identifying best way present data (designing tables, graphs, diagrams)
e) Identifying assumptions
f) Identifying errors, find their source, suggest future ways to prevent them
g) Interpreting data
h) Identifying future work

7) Ability to use equipment appropriate to field of study
8) Ability to write lab reports
9) Statistical knowledge including probability and issues like correlation vs causation
10) Evaluation of scientific research (obviously, in only a general way)
11) Presentation skills/public speaking (not required, but an excellent add in if time)

Reinforce 1-4: curiosity, enthusiasm, scepticism, falsification
5) Persistence: in the face of failed experiments and the need to try new things over and over and over
6) Honesty: being completely objective while collecting data. The goal is to find the truth, not support your personal opinions (this is often harder than your realize, which is why scientists do double blind studies)

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Ever heard this joke:

Psychology is biology is chemistry is physics is math?


IMHO, off the top of my head, being a certified science teacher (grades 5-12 ), and having had enough college-level science classes to buy a house with, you do need a couple of things beyond the theory of science. You need to be able to do equations (and trigonometry, if you want to do physics). stoichiometry is a breaking point for many AP high school/freshman chemistry students, especially in organic chemistry. Systems of equations show up again in the physics of electricity. You need a good, detailed understanding of the atom, for physics and chemistry, especially as regards magnetism and electricity (another one of those hurdles).  You need to understand that those electrons in glycolysis/Krebs/electron transport chain are the same concept as electrons creating electricity in physics. It doesn't hurt to do a good grounding in the theory of physics of light/sound, either. 

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