Reviewed by Elizabeth James
HS Physical Science Teacher
Increasingly, the classroom study of science consists of “teaching to the test” and may not hold students’ attention. Inquiry learning is made more difficult when assessments place so much emphasis on content knowledge. If we are to create and sustain a lifelong interest in science, we must offer exciting and stimulating opportunities for science learning both in the classroom and in informal settings.
This awesome book fills a void not generally recognized in the field of science education, the increasing role of informal education in learning about science. The interest in science of many children is first awakened outside the formal classroom. According to the editors, 75% of Nobel Prize winners in science report that their passion for science was first sparked in non-school environments.
The book begins with a discussion of the history of the National Science Education Standards, a discussion of how emphasis has changed, and a delineation of the features of real science. The editors explain how candidates for monographs were chosen and that the goal was for at least half of each chapter to be devoted to real evidence of learning.
One strength of informal education settings is the opportunity for learners to follow their individual interests. Each chapter represents a different type of opportunity for informal science learning. There is a great deal of variety in both subject matter and approach. The very diversity of organizations is impressive. Classroom teachers will be delighted to read about these different methods of science outreach, and providers of informal science education will be uplifted by these success stories.
The book's stated goals are to inspire science educators and provide concrete examples of how science education practices could be improved, to raise awareness of the usefulness of the National Science Education Standards, and to inspire those in more formal science education endeavors. It accomplishes all these in an accessible, interesting, and uplifting format.
Review posted on 1/15/2008