Before most children enter formal educational settings, they have been exposed to the concept of learning through games, thus have been dubbed “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001). Increased exposure to digital media and games has spurred a strong interest regarding the academic potential of games and other digitally based activities on children and adolescents’ learning in science (Blumberg, Rosenthal, & Randall, 2008; Chiong, 2011; Dede, 2010).
Digital learning materials can meet students’ diverse learning needs and styles (Blumberg, Altschuler, & Almonte, 2010; Fisch et al., 2010; Gamas & Nordqust, 1997; Prensky, 2001, 2006, 2007). While there are many high quality digital games and simulations, they tend to cluster more at the middle and high school level (Mayo, 2009; Quellmalz, Timms, & Schneider, 2009; Squire & Patterson, 2009). There are few empirical studies that examine the impact of games in curricula on lower elementary children’s engagement in science (see: Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2004 and Owen & Moyle, 2008 for review). Science4Us.com is one of the first digital based online projects to address these issues and to respond to the National Academies 2007 report on Taking Science To School (Duschl, 2007). Science4Us relies on many recommendations from Taking Science to School including the emphasis on big ideas, the organization in grade bands, the integrated approach to process and content knowledge, and the raised expectations for conceptual thinking in the earlier grades. The Science4Us design also adopts Taking Science’s emphasis on experiential learning but relies on digital techniques to achieve it. Professional development is provided by the Science4Us materials to bolster teacher content knowledge, confidence, dispel common misconceptions and support best practices.
Science4Us seeks to develop the first digital elementary science curriculum that builds on learning progressions—a concept that the National Research Council (NRC, 2006) defines as a successively more sophisticated way of thinking about a topic as children learn about and investigate a topic over a broad span of time.
The significance of the innovative Science4Us curriculum is to engage students and teachers to learn science and have increased enthusiasm for science education. Specifically, the Science4Us SBIR will enhance K-2 students’ and teachers’ understanding of nature of science concepts and promote interest in science.
There are many surprising elements about the elementary school science curriculum. Evidence suggests that most teachers tend towards biology as the primary topic whereas if you look at the actual content standards, say with NGSS, you’ll find that it’s physics that gets the most attention. Here, for instance, are the units in curriculum of Science4Us.
For higher level science, here’s a guide to good online science curriculum:
- Third Grade homeschool Science Lesson Plans
- Fourth Grade homeschool Science Lesson Plans
- Fifth Grade homeschool Science Lesson Plans
- Middle School homeschool Science Courses
There’s also a wealth of free science vocabulary resources on SpellingCity.com.