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Guidelines for Authors: Science and Children

About Science and Children

Science and Children coverScience and Children is an award-winning peer-reviewed practitioners’ journal with an audience of preK–5 science teachers and those who provide them support, as well as instructors of teachers and preservice elementary students. S&C is published six times a year and is available in both hard copy and as an e-journal. S&C subscribers are members of the National Science Teaching Association who select it as their preferred journal. We seek manuscripts that are inspirational and provide ideas for enhancing preK–5 science teaching and learning. Features are articles written by educators for educators. The editorial staff of Science and Children would like to thank you for considering S&C as a venue for your ideas. We look forward to your contribution to the profession.

NSTA offers no remuneration for published articles.

Creating a manuscript for Science and Children

Deciding what to write about

To understand the voice and type of articles published in Science and Children, it is strongly recommended that you begin by reading a few past issues. If you do not subscribe, you will find access to many free articles in the NSTA learning center. Each issue of Science and Children is structured around a theme (see the call for papers). Your manuscript does not need to address a theme, but the more it matches the call for papers for a theme, the more likely it is that it will be published in that issue. In any given issue, we publish articles that are not on theme to provide our readers with a broad spectrum of ideas. Several columns are also published in Science and Children. Descriptions of the columns we accept submission for are found at the end of the call for papers. Note that your manuscript idea might be a better fit with a column than with a feature article.

Manuscripts should identify a grade level reference. Our feature articles are teacher-student focused and should provide:

  • practical, timely classroom ideas and strategies that appeal to a wide audience and are accessible to the general readership of Science and Children;
  • examples of teacher and student interactions and student work that demonstrates that your manuscript is an authentic, classroom-tested activity. This might include questions posed, student reactions, materials generated by the entire class, etc.
  • suggestions for managing the activity that include examples of what may have gone wrong, unexpected results, and unforeseen challenges—if you are not a classroom teacher, consider partnering with one to field test your activity and capture authentic details;
  • all aspects of the learning experience from preassessment through summative assessment;
  • safety precautions. See the NSTA Safety in the Science Classroom, Laboratory, or Field Studies to assist you;
  • support for claims made in the manuscript, including research citations and personal anecdotal evidence.

We do not publish feature articles that

  • have been previously published in either print or digital format (websites, blogs, e-books, etc.);
  • focus on research without providing the practical details necessary for the application of your ideas;
  • contains material that is not original, or does not provide a unique approach to a classic activity that provides teachers with a new teaching approach;
  • are strictly opinions, a personal rather than professional experience, travelogues, personal reflections, or diary-type submissions;
  • are term papers, dissertations, university writing assignments, unsupported lesson plans, lists of ideas, or materials reviews;
  • promote a commercial product such as materials, books, software, or professional services;
  • do not apply to grades preK–5.

Preparing your manuscript

If you do not follow these guidelines, your manuscript will likely be returned to you. Also, please review this annotated sample manuscript.

  • Our manuscripts go through a double-blind peer-review process. Do not include names or institutions within your manuscript. Do not include a cover sheet that includes your name. Submit only the blinded version to Manuscript Central.
  • Figures, photos, and other graphics should not be embedded in your Word document; instead, these elements should be uploaded as separate files during the submission process (see Supplemental Materials section).
  • The main body of your manuscript should be no more than 2,000 words. References, captions, and other supplementary text are not included in the word count.
  • Your manuscript should be double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and numbered pages. Use a single 12 point font throughout the manuscript. Avoid extra formatting of any kind.
  • A 200-word abstract should accompany your submission.
  • References and resources lists should be alphabetized by author and limited to current, readily available items. Cite only the most germane references, not to exceed six. Provide a page number for any direct quote. See previous issues of S&C for reference format.
  • Manuscripts must identify how they align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States 2013, The specifics should identify the Standards box, Performance Expectations, Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross Cutting Concepts by reference number including the specific grade level. Also provide the specific page number based on the DCI Arrangement of the Next Generation Science Standards document. Do not include all of the Standards box components unless they all apply directly to your manuscript; rather, select those that are most germane to the activities identified in your manuscript.

Provide specific references to the NGSS in a table at the end of your manuscript. See example below. You may also reference all or some of this information within the body of your manuscript as connections are described. Be sure to include specific evidence of how the activity you describe in the article connects to the elements of the NGSS you identify in the table.

Submitting your manuscript

All manuscripts are submitted electronically through Manuscript Central. You will be asked to set up an account the first time you enter that system. Reviewers provide input to the Field Editor through Manuscript Central. The Field Editor will then communicate with you concerning decisions and reviewer suggestions. Revisions also go through Manuscript Central. Please note that both original manuscripts and any subsequent revisions need to be blinded before being submitted through Manuscript Central.

Download blank template

Click here for an annotated NGSS table that might be submitted with a manuscript.

5-ESS2 Earth Systems

The chart below makes one set of connections between the instruction outlined in this article and the NGSS. Other valid connections are likely; however, space restrictions prevent us from listing all possibilities. The materials, lessons, and activities outlined in the article are just one step toward reaching the performance expectations listed below.
Performance Expectation
5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact
Science and Engineering Practices
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations Students construct models of storm water runoff
Developing and Using Models Students construct explanations regarding the movement of water in the models
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking Students measure and observe characteristics of the drainage area in the schoolyard
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions Students calculate the effective size and depth of the rain garden use calculations and observations to plan a rain garden to reduce storm water flow
Disciplinary Core Idea
ESS2.C: Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes.
  • These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth's surface materials and processes.
Students evaluate the landscape around the school and design a rain garden to mitigate storm water runoff.
Crosscutting Concepts
Systems and System Models Students use models to draw and explain components of the watershed, the interaction of these components and the impacts of local runoff the watershed as a system.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity Students measure the drainage area and plan rain garden size to scale.

Supplemental files

In addition to your main manuscript, upload the following as separate files (do not embed in your manuscript).

  • Photos of students involved in the work you are describing. Be sure they are participating in a safe manner and have appropriate safety attire. Include photos of student work, examples of apparatus used, the activity in progress, or images to be used in instruction. Photos of students should be candid; they should be engaged in the activity, not posing for the camera. If photos of students are used, a signed model release form is required for each identifiable student. This can be provided after manuscript acceptance. Photos should be high resolution (a minimum of 300 dpi), so please check your camera settings before taking any pictures.
  • Support materials you use to organize your lesson and those that provide support to students such as tables, charts, graphs, record sheets, assessments, rubrics, etc. These may be used in the article if space permits, or we may provide a link to them so that readers can download them from our website . These materials will be seen and evaluated by the reviewers.
  • Trade books containing scientifically accurate, grade level appropriate core content that supports the disciplinary core ideas presented in your manuscript. These can be referred to in the main body of the text and included in a Resources section at the end of the manuscript.
  • Digital resources, which can be posted on our NSTA Connections webpage or embedded in the digital edition of the journal. We are interested in audio (mpeg) and video files (flv), slideshows (jpg), presentations such as PowerPoint files, and other digital resources that enhance your article. You can also provide links to other online resources, such as YouTube videos and educational websites.

Authors are responsible for permissions for the use of any graphics or photos and for the accuracy of permissions, citations, quotations, figures, and facts use in their manuscripts.

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters to the Editor. Letters should be submitted in a timely manner and focus directly on an issue addressed in Science and Children. Statements should be validated by reference to research. Limit letters to 300 words. All letters are subject to editing for clarity and space. Writers whose letters are chosen for print will be notified. Letters include writer’s name, institutional affiliation, address, and email. Authors of articles addressed in the letter will be given a chance to respond to the comments in the letter to the editor. Letters to the Editor should not be submitted through Manuscript Central. Instead, they should be emailed to S&

A final check before submitting

Many of our authors find it helpful to ask a colleague to read their manuscript prior to submission. Ask them to consider whether you have shared the complete experience, including what you did, what worked, and what didn’t. Have them check to determine if, when describing an activity, you identified the grade level, assessment techniques, safety considerations, and how it aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. You might want to share our review form with your colleague so they know what we are looking for in a manuscript. This can help them provide you with valuable input.

You might want to share the section “What our reviewers look for” with your colleague. This can help them provide you with valuable input.

What our reviewers look for

An initial review is completed by the Field Editor. This review is for compliance of the guidelines for submission identified above. The Field Editor may reject your manuscript or return it to you for revision. If it is returned, you have the opportunity to make revisions and submit it under the same identification number it was initially given. Once the manuscript is known to fulfill the basic requirements, it will be assigned to a team of three reviewers whose background and expertise will match the content of your manuscript. Reviewers are asked to provide feedback on a set of questions, which you may preview.

After the reviews have been received and considered, a decision will be made about your manuscript. The Field Editor has the following choices: Accept, Send for Minor Revisions, Send for Major Revisions, Reject with Encouragement to Resubmit, or Reject. You will have the option of revising your manuscript if it is not rejected. Once we are in receipt of your revision, it will go through another review. Reviewers will look for your responses to their suggestions and consider if it has been revised to meet the profile and standards of Science and Children. Please note that the review/revision process may go on for a few rounds.

Upon acceptance

The process is not over when your manuscript is accepted. You will be asked to clarify and provide additional information as the manuscript is reviewed by our editorial team. You will also be asked to update your material; identify the people and institutions you had left out during the blind review; complete your biography; provide model releases, credits, and captions for photos if you have not done so; and submit other support material you may want to include.

Even if your manuscript was submitted for a specific issue on a particular theme and then accepted, it may not appear in that issue of Science and Children. Space is limited, and the field editor may choose to save your article for a future issue in order to balance the grade level and subject matter of the content presented in the current issue. Articles are typically published within two years of acceptance.

Once your article is published, you will receive five complimentary copies of the issue in which it appeared.


If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact the journal by phone or e-mail.

Science and Children
Valynda Mayes, Managing Editor
1840 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201-3000
Phone: 703.312.9234


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