Journal Title: Science and Children
Description of Journal: Science and Children is a peer-reviewed professional journal published monthly by the National Science Teachers Association for science educators at the elementary level (K-5). Each issue features a science theme, and many of the articles, projects and opinions shared align with the topics for that theme. The consistent features of the journal are: (1) “The Editor’s Note” – thoughts on the theme and topics in the current issue, (2) “In the News” – insight into recent events or research on the topic, (3) “The Early Years” – a column discussing resources and topics related to the theme for preK-2, (4) “The Poetry of Science” and “Teaching Through Trade Books” – both focused on connections between literature and the science topic, (5) “Science 101” – a column providing background information for teachers, (6) “Science 102” – a column sharing specific exercises to challenge teachers’ content knowledge, (7) “Engineering Encounters” – a column focused on techniques to enhance and deepen science teaching, (8) “Methods and Strategies” – another column focused on specific science teaching techniques and best practices, and (9) “NSTA Recommends” – a section providing book reviews on relevant science literatures, resources, and/or textbooks. In addition to these regular features, the journal showcases submitted research and content information, student work and science projects, and topical resources (identified for specific grades) related to the science theme of that issue.
Reaction to Journal: I would highly recommend the Science and Children journal to teachers and curriculum specialists responsible for science teaching at the elementary level. The journal’s content covers many components of teaching, ranging from project-based learning to content in a real-life context to science methods, but does it focused in on one content area. Though some issues may focus on a topic not directly related to the curriculum for a specific teacher’s grade level, the online archive of the journal is an amazing resource for going back to issues that do focus on the topics of relevance. In addition to the variety of teaching resources, the layout and organization of the journal provides for easy navigating, quick reading, and the ability to jump directly to columns or articles of most interest. The two features that stood out to me most were the features focused on literacy integration into science (both informational texts and poetry) and on specific methods and strategies. As a new teacher, I can benefit from learning about as many different techniques as possible for science teaching – so the depth of information in this journal would be very helpful.
Article Summary: In the article “Science and Superheroes”, a team of teachers share about their design of a science lesson using role-play to teach younger grades about the science behind several physical science devices. They first explained how they used backward design to identify their learning outcomes before developing the learning activities, as well as how they prioritized using scientific inquiry to guide the learning process. Their learning outcomes focused on students investigating forces, air, and air pressure through interacting with the various physical machines and devices. The teachers used the techniques of both gameplay and roleplay to create stations and opportunities for the students to complete the activity in character. The roleplay involved students dressing as superheroes trying to save a city by understanding the physics behind an action or machine needed to defeat the enemy. At each station, or for each ‘villain’, students watched a brief video introducing the villain, followed a set of procedures to investigate the concept, engaged in inquiry through small group discussions and questions (called “press conferences”), and recorded observations and understandings in various formats (i.e. notes, graphs, etc). An example of one villain is ‘Vile Fluorine’, a villain trying to defeat the city with poison who could only be stopped if hit with a balloon rocket. Students were tasked with creating balloon rockets and inquiring about how the amount of air blown into the balloon affected the distance the balloon travels. When summarizing the lesson’s impact on student learning, the supervising professor identified the lesson as a great success because the roleplay created a playful learning environment. She described the successful release of responsibility by sharing about how “students acted out their roles as heroes, which placed responsibility on them to learn the science behind a series of gadgets” and that consequently “students showed a high level of engagement, actively participating in our story line and learning the associated science content” (Dolenc, et. al, 2016, p. 61). Overall, this article provided incredible insight into how teachers can engage students in scientific inquiry outside of the traditional exploration activities, science notebook strategies, and methodical experiments.
Dolenc, N., Wood, A., Washburn, M., Batson, Y., Fan, B., Dickens, V., & Armstrong, S. (2016). Science and superheroes. Science and Children, 54(2), 56-62.