Reviewed by Lori Cirucci
This series includes three student books and a teachers guide. The first student book for grades 5 through 8 includes what the author considers “one–star” lessons. These lessons are written for the student who has not participated in any science fairs. This is a good beginner book for any student curious about a science fair. It also lays the foundation of good scientific problem solving. The second student book is for grades 7 through 10 and includes “two–star” lessons. These lessons are more cognitively demanding. The third and final student book is for grades 8 through 12 and includes “three–star” lessons. These lessons further develop the ideas about practices that scientists undertake.
Sequentially, a middle school teacher might use the first book for a 6th grade class, the second book for a 7th grade class, and the third book for an 8th grade class. Each book contains chapters on starting points, the nature of scientific inquiry, data collection, variables and controls, experimental design, sources or error, explanations, communicating findings, and finally generating ideas for projects. The teacher's guide starts with a discussion of the nature of science and scientific inquiry. The author then explains his teaching strategy and the importance of helping students develop their independence while doing a science fair project. A careful explanation of the structure of the three books is given. In addition, a wonderful content overview chart of each of the books broken down by chapter and the number of 40–minute periods assigned to each lesson in the chapter is given. A full explanation and detailed lesson plan is also given for each chapter.
These components are extremely helpful to the teacher because not only does the author outline the purpose, time allocation, and materials needed, but also suggests approaches to the chapter content. A Framework for K–12 Science Education (NRC 2012) is discussed and referenced in each chapter. These books are equally useful to the novice science fair teacher and to the experienced science fair teacher. This is a great resource to use in the middle school classroom. I would recommend buying all three books plus the teachers guide regardless of the middle school level you are teaching.
Review posted on 3/14/2013