Reviewed by Donald Logsdon Jr.
Many recent assessments have shown American children are not learning much science in school compared to other countries. This, in turn, is one reason why American adults have a relatively low level of science literacy. To change this pattern science study needs to improve in elementary and middle school classrooms. Teachers need educational tools to make science interesting, relevant, and fun for students. One effective approach is to make use of activities that can be easily employed in the classroom to encourage inquiry–based learning.
One of a four–volume series on Earth Sciences, this book was prepared for use by middle school teachers. The focus is physical oceanography, the study of water, something that covers three–fourths of the Earth’s surface. The other three volumes cover Astronomy, Geology, and Meteorology. As the author’s note: “Project Earth Sciences Physical Oceanography hopes to address the need for making science…something students do, not something that is done to the student.”
The book includes 18 activities, ranging in topic from an examination of the properties of water to the abundant trash that humans continually dump into the ocean. Each activity follows the same format: a section on what is happening, an important review of student preconceptions, a look at what students need to know, a check of time management, and a description of preparation and procedure. This is followed by reviews of extended learning, interdisciplinary study, and differentiated learning. Finally, answers are provided to questions students were asked and approaches suggested for assessment of learning. Each activity has a number of sidebars on topics such as: safety alerts, websites (SciLinks), vocabulary, fast facts, and connections. Forms are provided which can be copied for data collection. The volume has an extensive introductory section, a series of readings directed primarily at the teacher, a guide to further resources, and an index. For the ambitious teacher, there are even complete instructions on how to build a wave tank.
Review posted on 4/24/2012