Letter from Dr. Colascione, Science Dept., Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School
RE: CSH sixth grade curriculum
From The NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum Grades K-4…
Critical to understanding science concepts is the use of scientific inquiry to develop explanations of natural phenomena.
Therefore, it is recommended that students have the opportunity to develop their skills of mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design through investigations on a regular basis in grades K, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Active investigations will nurture student curiosity and develop positive attitudes toward science, which will last a lifetime.
It should be a goal of the instructor to foster the development of science process skills. The application of these skills allows students to investigate important issues in the world around them. Inquiry-based units will include many or most of the following process skills. These process skills should be incorporated into students’ instruction as developmentally appropriate.
Classifying – arranging or distributing objects, events, or information representing objects or events in classes according to some method or system.
Communicating – giving oral and written explanations or graphic representations of observations.
Comparing and contrasting – identifying similarities and differences between or among objects, events, data, systems, etc.
Creating models – displaying information, using multisensory representations.
Gathering and organizing data – collecting information about objects and events which illustrate a specific situation.
Generalizing – drawing general conclusions from particulars Identifying variables – recognizing the characteristics of objects or factors in events that are constant or change
under different conditions.
Inferring – drawing a conclusion based on prior experiences.
Interpreting data – analyzing data that have been obtained and organized by determining apparent patterns or relationships in the data.
Making decisions – identifying alternatives and choosing a course of action from among the alternatives after basing the judgment for the selection on justifiable reasons.
Manipulating materials – handling or treating materials and equipment safely, skillfully, and effectively.
Measuring – making quantitative observations by comparing to a conventional or unconventional standard Observing – becoming aware of an object or event by using any of the senses (or extensions of the senses) to identify properties.
Predicting – making a forecast of future events or conditions expected to exist.
From The NYS Intermediate Level Science Core Curriculum Grades 5-8…
It is essential that instruction focus on understanding important relationships, processes, mechanisms, and applications of concepts. Less important is the memorization of specialized terminology and technical details. Future assessments will test students’ ability to explain, analyze, and interpret scientific processes and phenomena more than their ability to recall specific facts. It is hoped that the general nature of these statements will encourage the teaching of science for understanding, instead of for memorization.”
“Laboratory Recommendations: Critical to understanding science concepts is the use of scientific inquiry to develop explanations of natural phenomena. Therefore, it is recommended that students have the opportunity to develop their skills of analysis, inquiry, and design through active laboratory work on a regular basis in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8.
A general outline of recommended topics that should be covered during the K-6 grades (as per the two core curricula sited above)
Living Environment – A minimum curriculum should include: the body systems, unicellular and multicellular organisms, herbivores, plants, ecosystems, and classification.
Earth Science - A minimum curriculum should include: the sun, moon, planets, atmosphere, gravity, erosion, water and rock cycles.
Physical Science – A minimum curriculum should include matter, mixtures, law of conservation of mass, gases, atoms, molecules, periodic table of elements, energy (fossil and solar), electricity, magnets, force, friction, machines.
Upon reviewing the sixth grade curriculum provided to me I can report the program is designed to be inquiry based.
As per the two curricula sited above, student inquiry should drive the lessons. Developmental scientific skills are best learned through investigation.
After reviewing the K - 4 outlines I can also report that the elementary program does appear to cover the NYS recommended topics.