This is an excellent book for those teachers who hesitate to invite their young learners to inquire, because they don’t know what to expect. In its true form, inquiry-based instruction---allowing students to discover science around them, learning facts and processes along the way---is the best teaching practice for science learning. It is truly fun learning, wondering, searching, and wondering some more.
From infancy on, children want to know the how and why of things, and these articles explain how to tap into that interest. They are arranged in sections around the topics of "Early Learning and Science," "Child Centered Curricula," "Integrating Curricula," and "Assessing Understanding." Shown through a great chart, all the activities are connected to the National Science Education Standards. SciLinks are also noted throughout the book.
The first series of articles explores the beginnings of science in the early grades and how to build on that curiosity. The next also builds on the natural curiosity of children and their wondering why things work or happen the way they do. A simple observation of a bird in the schoolyard can lead to a yearlong science project. In the article, “Gravitating toward Reggio,” the author states, “Young children need to experience science in such a way that they are excited about what they are doing and are engaged in building ideas, giving explanations, and constructing knowledge through developing science process skills.” This is the essence of inquiry science. Other articles include a New Jersey 4 H science discovery project on spiders, a frog’s life cycle, and how science centers can embrace the differences in children’s learning styles and yet be an excellent tool to deal with those differences.
Science can best be taught by integrating it with other curricula. For instance, bird watching, growing tulips, ladybugs, and mini sleds are just a sample of the topics of articles in this section. The last series of articles on assessing understanding all relate that students’ understanding of concepts was more thorough when taught using inquiry science. The students were more attuned to details and could document more complex understandings.
This is the essence of inquiry science, and a great book for those teachers who are hesitant to start. All of the articles were written by real teachers who have learned firsthand that children learn better by doing. I highly recommend this book. After reading this series of articles, those teachers will have no doubts that this is the way to go for science for young students.