Taking Science to School Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 (2007)
This report brings together research literatures from cognitive and developmental psychology, science education, and the history and philosophy of science to synthesize what is known about how children in grades K through 8 learn the ideas and practice of science. The resulting conclusions challenge the science education community, writ large, to examine some tenacious assumptions about children’s potential for learning about science and, as a result, the priority of science in elementary schools. We believe this research synthesis and the implications from it have the potential to change science education in fundamental ways. For example, the repeated challenge from science educators is that science education should be for “all” the children. This has been a difficult challenge to meet. Although there is general agreement that all children will and must learn to read, historically there has been far less agreement that all children will and must learn science regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic circumstances. That issue is addressed in this report. Taking Science to School speaks in a clear, evidentiary-based voice. All young children have the intellectual capability to learn science. Even when they enter school, young children have rich knowledge of the natural world, demonstrate causal reasoning, and are able to discriminate between reliable and unreliable sources of knowledge. In other words, children come to school with the cognitive capacity to engage in serious ways with the enterprise of science.