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Science Essentials

The Building Blocks


Science, Math & Art


Young Explorers

Developing A

Science Story

Building Process And

Problem-Solving Skills

Developing Context-

Based Content

Creating Embedded

Opportunities For

Further Learning

how2Science Story: Content, Process & Discovery, Part II

General considerations.  Define the story, the information you wish to share. Most science topics are huge, even when hyphenated into thematic units. Simplify your content by asking questions. Big ideas can be conveyed simply. Organize your thoughts and define your message.


 Ask yourself questions about the topic.
Begin with the basics: who, what, where, are and how-type questions about the subject. When possible, ask the same question in different ways to refine the question. Incorporate process-type skills such as: compare/contrast, same but different and sort/match in developing your questions, as well as what if... scenarios. As you ask your questions, you will develop your content and identify content areas that may need further clarification. In addition, your “questioning” will help you define “umbrella subjects” the contextual connection that gives meaning to your subject matter.


 Telling a story…a science story.
Use a "less is more" approach-slow it down and keep content focused. Include an overview (context) by presenting an introduction before getting into specifics. This is used to define basic connections.  By defining the connection, the context, you enrich the value and meaning of the content for your students. You can define basic connections with such questions as: what is X; why is X important; and, what if we didn't have any X's. For example, what is a butterfly; why are butterflies important (why are insects important); and, what if there weren't any butterflies? (see: how2BUTTERFLIES) You will be able to apply many of the questions you develop as part of your content development process in class. Use your questions to find out what your class knows. Encourage them to participate. Your questions will show them how to ask questions, how to inquire.


 Illustrations: experiments, activities, demonstrations and show 'n tell.
Use familiar objects and examples. Some experiments are hands-on; some are not, but your class can still be involved. Let them help you prepare solutions, mix ingredients, or let them see you do it. No magic, no tricks, no Wala!  While stand-alone experiments offer great visuals, they lack context and value, and to younger children appear magical. Science is not magic.   Always provide context to your explorations. Prime the experiment with questions. What do you think will happen when? Test out variables. What if we tried this instead? If a child asks would this work too or what if we used this, take it to the next step…let's find out!


 Reinforce content with contextual activities.
The contextual activity can be an easy-to-repeat in-class exercise or an in-class project that children can take home. The activity serves to reinforce content discussed in class, and provides a cue, a reminder, when they talk about what they did in science. Sometimes the take-home project may be part of the experiment rather than a separate activity. There may be words on the handout, which are mostly for the parents' benefit.


 Integrate the science topic with other classroom activities and centers.
Use b
ooks, movement, sensory table, dress-up, art, crafts, and music. Some, all or just one. It all depends on the subject matter.  

how2SCIENCE.com ã 2004