Reviewed by Jacqueline Pfeiffer
3rd Grade Teacher
“Help! I’ve just been transferred from middle school to elementary school and now have to teach science! I can’t remember much from my college courses. What am I going to do?” This book was written for just such a situation. It is filled with science content—no activities, no planning suggestions, no pedagogical knowledge, or recommendations. It’s a pure science book designed to give background to educators and pre–educators who need to brush up on science content so they can plan exciting and rich inquiry lessons for their students.
There are four main sections: Life Processes and Systems, Ecology and the Environment, The Physical Sciences, and Earth and Space. Each section is broken down into key ideas which are broken down even further. The complex concepts are written in easier to understand terms and explanations. The author states, “Let your curiosity take you and your students to new and exciting places. This book is only a start.” It focuses on essential content knowledge to help teachers understand science concepts.
I started out not liking this book, but as I continued to read, and as I became aware of all of the science concepts I have become rusty on, I enjoyed it more and more. It is written so that even the most reluctant science teacher can read it and is filled with those nuggets of information that really grab students’ attention and would make a lesson even more interesting.
For example, Autopoiesis is the study of the basic attributes of living things. All vocabulary is defined and illustrated as it is being used. Jellyfish and flatworms have a blind gut, only one opening for eating and eliminating wastes. Sea squirts have a reversible heart that can pump in one direction and then reverse directions. Alligators have a 3 ½ chambered heart. Your head is made of 28 bones. There are five categories for taste: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami—the taste of amino acids (protein source in meats and cheeses). Evergreen tropical rain forests receive up to 22 feet of rain yearly. The Marianna Trench is nearly 7 miles deep. Atmospheric pressure in now measured in Kilopascals. Oxygen has isotopes 16, 17, and 18. As a space ship explores outer space, there is no sound. Humans have a community of organisms living all over our internal and external surfaces—mites, bacteria, fungi. The electromagnetic items on the grid now include microwaves, cell phones, and laptop computers. There is a rock cycle which includes the development and recycling of rocks. The Earth’s inner core is hotter than 1200* F but the increased pressure of the earth keeps the material in a solid state. The Earth’s plates move 6/10 of an inch to 6” per year. Do you know what loess is?*
I highly recommend this book for new teachers, rusty science teachers, and anyone who needs to brush up on their basic science concepts and those who don’t have time to take a course in each. There is just enough on each topic in this book to answer students’ questions and to stimulate the teachers’ learning.
*Loess is the dust that is released from melting glaciers and is blown into dunes in Alaska.
Review posted on 9/6/2012