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How do I Choose the Best Science Curriculum?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best science curriculum ultimately depends on how well the curriculum mirrors the standards, or what students are expected to learn. Keep in mind that the definition for the best science curriculum is a moving target. This is because of the constant evolution of new standards and new learning techniques, as well as new scientific developments. There is also concern over the rigor of science curriculums, especially in the US and the United Kingdom, for example. One concern is that science curriculums fail to include adequate exercises for problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Studies such as the Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS) program suggest it is best to begin introducing a science curriculum to children in the early school years. That way, students have a foundation to build on when they get to the upper grades and are faced with learning complex topics, such as biology and physics. The curriculum should build upon concepts introduced at earlier grade levels. Additionally, all topics should be adequately covered. A good science curriculum provides coursework that allows students the opportunity to analyze experiments, make observations, and draw conclusions.

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Another key characteristic of a good science curriculum is hands-on learning. In other words, students should do experiments and see real-life examples of various science concepts. The should also consider developmental issues based on what students can learn according to their age. For example, the SCIS program bases its design on the findings of psychologist Jean Piaget, who characterizes lesson design as exploration, invention, or discovery.

Curriculum decisions are typically made based on research. In fact, studies that receive notoriety can have a lot of influence. This information often gets implemented by textbook publishing companies and science kit providers, which in turn supply these materials to schools.

Student diversity is another concern in choosing the best curriculum. There is a movement underway to encourage more females and minority groups in the US, for example, to take science courses. Some speculate that part of the reason for this may be a bias that females, for example, are not "good" at science. The field traditionally is dominated by males. The amount of higher-level thinking skills required in science can also help prepare students for a college education.

Parents who teach their children at home rather than send them to a public or private school also face the task of choosing the best curriculum. One of the first concerns is whether science class materials are reasonably priced and can be safely used at home. If not, the experiments may require extensive supervision and preparation by the parent.

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