Science Curriculum Resources
How is Science Taught in Rock Hill Schools?
When elementary science came up for adoption across the state in 2006-2007, the Rock Hill School Board agreed with the Instruction and Accountability Department that the district would follow the increasing nationwide trend toward teaching science using a hands-on, minds-on approach using science kits. Several well-known companies, Carolina Biological Supply Company (the kits are known as Science and Technology for Children or STC) and Delta Scientific (markets the Full Option Science System, or FOSS, created by the Lawrence Hall of Science) saw the increased interest in teaching hands-on science and began producing science kits over 20 years ago. The kits were designed using a wealth of educational research on how students best learn science and around a number of big concepts in science. (View the kits currently being used in Rock Hill Schools.)
Research showed that science, as a rule across the nation, was taught having students read chapters in a textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapters or using worksheets. Very little, if any, was taught hands-on. With this in mind and understanding the research, the Rock Hill Schools made the decision to purchase one set of text books to be shared between two classes at the same grade level and to purchase 22 different science kits for grade levels kindergarten through grade 5. One kit shared between 2 teachers or 2 kits shared between 3 teachers.
The kits have been closely correlated to the 2014 SC Science Academic Standards and are approved by the State Board of Education as instructional materials that can be purchased with state funds. For additional information teachers should refer to the Grade Level Master course in Canvas for up-to-date changes with regards to lessons and materials used for science instruction.
If you any questions regarding the use of science kits in the Rock Hill Schools, please contact Kimberly G. Massey, Instructional Specialist for Science, at 981-1886 or KMassey@rhmail.org.
Why use science kits instead of the traditional textbook?
Science kits have been around for more than 20 years. The two best known to Rock Hill Teachers are FOSS (Full Option Science System) developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley and STC (Science and Technology for Children) developed and marketed by the Carolina Biological Supply Company. Both kits utilize research-based educational best practices for the teaching of science and are based on the landmark Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993) and the National Science Education Standards (Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education, 1996).
Our district has student and teacher sign-on access to the Discovery Education Techbook. The techbook provides textbook-like resources, an interactive glossary, suggestions for hands-on lab experiences, teacher preparation suggestions, and video resources. Grade levels K-8 and high school biology have sign-on access.
Children are naturally curious. Science kits tap into and help focus this curiosity.
Children develop theories about the world around them and how it works. Kits being research-based and inquiry-centered, provide students an experiential base to develop these theories. (Science for All Children, 1997)
Science kits provide students an opportunity to construct their own understanding about the question at hand and in doing so move toward a deeper understanding of that question; an important goal of science. 4-H calls it “The Learn-by-Doing Approach.”
Science kits are well researched and are specifically designed to be developmentally appropriate. They meet students where they are in their cognitive development.
Science kits, in general, focus on using a “learning cycle”. The learning cycle is reflected in 4 steps or stages and is based on research about how children learn. The 4 steps are:
1. Focus—First, students focus on what they know about a topic and what they would like to learn about it. In other words, learning begins with the student's existing knowledge and experience.
2. Explore—Next, students explore a scientific concept or phenomenon by completing a sequence of activities. Classroom explorations are usually done in groups of 2 or 4 children
3. Reflect—To reinforce learning, students reflect on their findings, record them in their science journals, and discuss them with their classmates.
4. Apply—Finally, students apply their new learning to real-life situations and to other areas of the curriculum. (Taken from Carolina Biological)
Other Things to Think About...
1. Think back to when you were in elementary school, what do you remember about science? Chances are you remember some project or activity that was hands-on. You don’t remember a single worksheet you may have done or answering the questions at the back of the chapter.
2. Science kits are “fun”. Kids love the opportunity to explore, “play,” on their own, and I bet they talk about science when they get home.
3. Talk to students about which they enjoy more, they will tell you more often than not, they enjoy “doing science” instead of “doing worksheets”.
4. Watch children at play…they explore the world around them with a great deal of enthusiasm and imagination. My son calls it, “Doing a project.”
Arrange to visit a class when students are experiencing science using the kits. You will be amazed at the energy in the room.