National Academies Press: OpenBook

Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science (1996)

Chapter: Part 4 Overview

« Previous: Part 4. Ancillary Resources for Elementary Science Teachers
Suggested Citation:"Part 4 Overview." National Academy of Sciences. 1996. Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4966.


Part 4, "Ancillary Resources for Elementary Science Teachers," provides information about resources outside the classroom that can help enrich the experiences of teaching and learning science. Specifically, it focuses on facilities, associations, and federal organizations that have programs, services, and materials relevant to some aspect of hands-on, inquiry-based elementary school science education.

The first of the two chapters in this part of the guide, chapter 9, "Museums and Other Places to Visit," identifies facilities that teachers can take their elementary school science classes to visit—for example, museums, zoos, aquariums, science and technology centers, planetariums, and botanical gardens. These facilities are diverse in terms of size, areas of emphasis, and types of materials and support offered. They are places that not only can be visited by science classes but that often provide local outreach, kits, publications, teacher training, and other services.

They include, for example, a regional science discovery center with in-service education on science content and hands-on learning in Anchorage, Alaska; a dolphin research center with an education hotline in Grassy Key, Florida; a world-renowned museum in San Francisco, California, with more than 600 interactive exhibits; and a children's museum with a hands-on science bar in Portland, Maine. Such diverse resources can meet many different needs of individual teachers and their science classes across the country.

About 600 facilities throughout the United States and several in Canada are listed in chapter 9. Of those, half are annotated with information about their programs for students, the materials they can provide, and the types of education and support they offer for teachers.

The listing and the annotations are based on responses to a national survey conducted by the National Science Resources Center (NSRC).

Suggested Citation:"Part 4 Overview." National Academy of Sciences. 1996. Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4966.

Chapter 10, "Professional Associations and U.S. Government Organizations," highlights about 120 institutions engaged in active efforts to provide information, services, or materials for the enhancement of elementary science teaching. These listings represent many scientific fields—physics, biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, entomology, and others. A teacher needing support in a certain scientific area will likely find a source of professional help through these annotations.

The annotations in chapter 10 present information in two categories: "Programs/services" and "Publications/materials." Within these categories there is wide variety, again reflecting the diversity of the organizations themselves.

In "Programs/services," readers will find, for example, mention of in-service workshops on space topics for teachers nationwide; databases of experts in various scientific fields who are available for teacher-scientist partnerships, classroom demonstrations, and student mentoring; information hotlines; and conferences and seminars for teachers. Also mentioned (and highlighted in boldface type) are formal programs such as the National Science Foundation's Teacher Enhancement Program, the Community Service Centers Project of the Quality Education for Minorities Network, and the Saturday Workshop Program of the Gifted Child Society. The "Publications/materials" category identifies such forms of assistance as periodicals, curriculum units and guidelines, catalogs, and audiovisual and computer-based materials.

Programs and organizations that serve as centralized sources of information—for example, clearinghouses and networks—are included in chapter 10. There are also annotations for groups of facilities, such as the U.S. Department of Energy's national laboratories and specialized facilities, that offer science education programs. Such listings can provide teachers with a starting point for a productive search for particular information or assistance.

The information on professional organizations in chapter 10 was gathered through a formal survey conducted by the NSRC. The material on federal organizations draws on information in the directory of federal resources in mathematics and science education, Guidebook to Excellence, produced by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education.

It was not possible to include every organization or facility that might provide assistance, materials, and information for hands-on, inquiry-centered science teaching. Readers are encouraged to utilize what is presented here and to seek out additional sources suitable to meeting their needs for professional development and for assistance in the classroom.

Because some of the detailed information presented in these annotations will inevitably change with time, chapters 9 and 10 should be treated as starting points for gathering further information. Teachers will want to contact the organizations listed to arrange for class visits and to obtain specific information, such as dates and duration of classes, workshops, and other programs; any costs involved; exact descriptions of items listed here in somewhat generic categories—"teacher's guide," "field trip," and so forth. By following up on information in chapters 9 and 10, individual teachers, schools, or school systems might significantly enhance the effectiveness of their science education efforts.

Suggested Citation:"Part 4 Overview." National Academy of Sciences. 1996. Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4966.
Page 166
Suggested Citation:"Part 4 Overview." National Academy of Sciences. 1996. Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4966.
Page 167
Next: 9. Museums and Other Places to Visit »
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What activities might a teacher use to help children explore the life cycle of butterflies? What does a science teacher need to conduct a "leaf safari" for students? Where can children safely enjoy hands-on experience with life in an estuary? Selecting resources to teach elementary school science can be confusing and difficult, but few decisions have greater impact on the effectiveness of science teaching.

Educators will find a wealth of information and expert guidance to meet this need in Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. A completely revised edition of the best-selling resource guide Science for Children: Resources for Teachers, this new book is an annotated guide to hands-on, inquiry-centered curriculum materials and sources of help in teaching science from kindergarten through sixth grade. (Companion volumes for middle and high school are planned.)

The guide annotates about 350 curriculum packages, describing the activities involved and what students learn. Each annotation lists recommended grade levels, accompanying materials and kits or suggested equipment, and ordering information.

These 400 entries were reviewed by both educators and scientists to ensure that they are accurate and current and offer students the opportunity to:

  • Ask questions and find their own answers.
  • Experiment productively.
  • Develop patience, persistence, and confidence in their own ability to solve real problems.

The entries in the curriculum section are grouped by scientific area—Life Science, Earth Science, Physical Science, and Multidisciplinary and Applied Science—and by type—core materials, supplementary materials, and science activity books. Additionally, a section of references for teachers provides annotated listings of books about science and teaching, directories and guides to science trade books, and magazines that will help teachers enhance their students' science education.

Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science also lists by region and state about 600 science centers, museums, and zoos where teachers can take students for interactive science experiences. Annotations highlight almost 300 facilities that make significant efforts to help teachers.

Another section describes more than 100 organizations from which teachers can obtain more resources. And a section on publishers and suppliers give names and addresses of sources for materials.

The guide will be invaluable to teachers, principals, administrators, teacher trainers, science curriculum specialists, and advocates of hands-on science teaching, and it will be of interest to parent-teacher organizations and parents.

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