Many school staff and their client communities are concerned about pupil achievement, skills, and attitudes related to science. To respond to these concerns, staff need to determine how they can improve their science programs by modifying the content and skills emphasized in the curriculum, changing or supplementing instructional materials, and changing instructional approaches, and changing the use of technology.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has launched Project 2061, an ambitious project outlining content to be included in K-12 school programs. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is developing a project to modify the scope and sequence of K-12 science.
In addition to the state and national frameworks there are guidelines for elementary school science produced by other groups including the National Center for Improving Science Education (1989).
Programs or materials that are judged effective are summarized in the Department of Education publication "Education Programs That Work" (Education Programs..., 1988); updated editions are produced periodically. Elementary science programs in "Science Education Programs That Work," (1989) include "Conservation for Children," "Ecology," "Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST)," "Hands-on Elementary Science," "Informal Science Study (IFSS)," "Life Lab Science Program," "Marine Science Project: for SEA," "Starwalk," and "ZOO."
Some of the Regional Educational Laboratories sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education produce and/or review science materials. The Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, for example, reviews and evaluates computer software, including those related to science. They publish the results of their reviews on a regular basis.
States such as New York produce science materials for schools that have had extensive evaluation. Some states such as California and Texas publish reviews of textbooks.
The ERIC database contains materials, descriptions of programs, and evaluation data related to many programs.
The COSMOS Corporation (White, 1986) worked with the National Science Teachers Association and other groups to identify programs and materials that were considered effective. The catalog published in 1986 contains more than 40 descriptions of programs, materials, and practices for elementary school science.
The Title II program of the Education for Economic Security Act has supported the development of promising programs and materials. A recent document published by the United States Department of Education contains over 80 project summaries from projects funded in 39 states and the District of Columbia (Exemplary Projects. Mathematics-Science..., 1988). The subject areas covered in these projects include several elementary school science projects.
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) inaugurated the Search for Excellence in Science Education in 1982 to carry out the National Science Foundation's 1981 initiative, Project Synthesis. A committee established criteria for excellence and applied them to actual science programs. Twelve elementary school science programs were identified and described in Volume 1, Number 2 of the Focus on Excellence series (Penick, 1983). Additional programs have been identified and described in other publications. Middle school programs were identified in a 1985 NSTA publication edited by Penick and Krajcik.
Elementary school science programs and materials are also being developed with funds from the U.S. Department of Education Eisenhower Act. "The Abstracts of the 1989 and 1988 Awards: Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science National Programs" (Levinson, 1989) includes elementary programs with science components.
There are a variety of programs and materials available that make use of new technology. Software has been and is being developed for elementary school programs. Integrated learning systems have been developed for elementary school science. Distance learning programs (including the STAR School Project) also include materials for elementary school science education. "Linking for Learning" and "Online: Computers in Education" describe several examples.
The ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education (ERIC/SMEAC) has contacted (1) state, county, and local coordinators and curriculum specialists for science and (2) federal program staff for nominations of programs and materials they consider promising and exemplary. In addition, association programs, newsletters, journals, and materials received at ERIC/SMEAC have been reviewed for programs and materials.
From these sources, possible programs and materials have been and are being identified and schools and projects involved with these activities are being contacted to obtain information about the programs and materials and actual materials when available. A description of a selection of the programs and materials related to elementary school science will be published in 1990.
ERIC/SMEAC plans to produce supplements to the 1990 publication when additional programs and materials are identified. Nominations for programs and materials should be sent to ERIC/SMEAC.
Division of Materials Development,
Research and Informal Science Education
1800 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20550
Northwest Regional Laboratory
101 Southwest Main Street
Portland, OR 97204
National Diffusion Network
555 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20208-1525
P.O. Box 839
Water Mill, NY 11976
Criteria for Excellence. An NSTA Science Compact. National Science Teachers Association, Washington, DC, 1987. ED 280 739. NSTA price $4.00.
Directory of Awards. Fiscal Year 1987 AND 1988. National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, 1989. ED 309 026.
Education Programs That Work: A Collection of Proven Exemplary Educational Programs and Practices. Edition 14. Sopris West Incorporated, Longmont, CO,1988. ED 296 984.
Exemplary Projects. Mathematics-Science, Computer Learning and Foreign Languages. A Collection of Projects Funded through Title II of the Education for Economic Security Act. Department of Education, Washington, DC, 1988. ED 302 390.
Glass, Lynn W., ed. Focus on Excellence: Energy Education. National Science Teachers Association, Washington, DC, 1985. NSTA price $7.00.
Levinson, Luna Lambert, ed. Abstracts of the 1989 and 1988 Awards: Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science National Programs. Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, 1989. SE 051 024.
Linking for Learning. Office of Technology Assessment, Washington, DC, 1989.
National School Boards Association. Online: Computers in Education. What's Happening? What's Possible? Jostens Learning Corporation, San Diego, CA, 1989.
Penick, John E., ed. Focus on Excellence: Elementary Science Volume 1, Number 2. National Science Teachers Association, Washington, DC, 1983. ED 243 689. NSTA price $7.00.
Penick, John E., ed. Focus on Excellence: Elementary Science Revisited. National Science Teachers Association, Washington, DC, 1988.
Science and Technology Education for the Elementary Years: Frameworks for Curriculum and Instruction. Center for Improving Science Education, Washington, DC, 1989.
Science Education Programs That Work. A Collection of Proven Exemplary Educational Programs and Practices in the National Diffusion Network. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, September, 1989.
Science for All Americans. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC, 1989.
White, J. Lynne, ed. Catalogue of Practices in Science and Mathematics Education. COSMOS Corp., Washington, DC, 1986.