Reviewed by Deb McNabney
Science Educator - retired
The emphasis on standardized test scores for math, language arts, and reading makes it difficult for elementary teachers to teach quality science. Lack of time and inadequate content understanding hamper attempts to meaningfully engage students in the scientific process. Inside-Out: Environmental Science in the Classroom and the Field attempts to bridge the gaps.
This publication combines content information with classroom- and field-based activities. Its 153 pages are divided into eight chapters, six of which emphasize content areas including topography, physical geography, water, soil, energy, nutrients, and biodiversity. The chapters are well-organized. Each contains content material specific to the chapter title; related activities, including a materials list and procedure; an open-ended question section called "Think About"; and an extensive list of resources.
The activities in the first six chapters develop the skills needed for the action projects outlined in chapter 7. Chapter 8 is a compilation of educators' reflection statements regarding the implementation of field-based learning. The first chapter on topography was my favorite. I liked that it included the use of Google Earth technology.
I can envision teams of excited middle schoolers trying to outdo each other in map interpretation and creating a topographic map of the schoolyard. Although this publication is targeted for grades 3 to 8, I believe it is most appropriate for the middle school level, where specialization begins to occur. Most of the activities may be too advanced for the elementary classroom without additional support. An elementary teacher without a good science background may have to go further to get the content needed for some of the activities.
Review posted on 10/6/2011