You are here

Teaching Science in Elementary and Middle School

Teaching Science in Elementary and Middle School
A Cognitive and Cultural Approach

Second Edition
  • Cory A. Buxton - Oregon State University, USA, University of Georgia, Athens, USA, University of Miami, Coral Gables, USA, University of New Orleans, USA
  • Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. - University of Miami, USA

August 2010 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Featuring an increased emphasis on the way today's changing science and technology is shaping our culture, this Second Edition of Teaching Science in Elementary and Middle School provides pre- and in-service teachers with an introduction to basic science concepts and methods of science instruction, as well as practical strategies for the classroom.

Throughout the book, the authors help readers learn to think like scientists and better understand the role of science in our day-to-day lives and in the history of Western culture. Part II features 100 key experiments that demonstrate the connection between content knowledge and effective inquiry-based pedagogy. The Second Edition is updated throughout and includes new coverage of applying multiple intelligences to the teaching and learning of science, creating safe spaces for scientific experimentation, using today's rapidly changing online technologies, and more.

New to This Edition:

- Links to national content standards for Mathematics, Language Arts, and Social Studies help readers plan for teaching across the content areas.

- Discussions of federal legislation, including No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, demonstrate legislation's influence on classroom science teaching.

- New "Scientists Then and Now" biographies provide practical examples of how great scientists balance a focus on content knowledge with a focus on exploring new ways to ask and answer questions.

- Sixteen additional video demonstrations on the Instructor Teaching Site and Student Study Site illustrate how to arrange and implement selected experiments.

Visit to access these valuable Instructor and Student resources:

- The password-protected Instructor Teaching Site includes video clips that illustrate selected experiments, PowerPoint® lecture slides, Electronic Test Bank, Teaching guides, and Web resources.

- The open-access Student Study Site includes tools to help students prepare for exams and succeed in the course: video clips that illustrate selected experiments, chapter summaries, flash cards, quizzes, helpful student guides links to state standards, licensure exams and PRAXIS resources, and Learning from SAGE Journal Articles.

Part I. Creating the Context for Science Education
1. The Nature of Science
What Is Science?

Theory Into Practice 1.1: Nature of Science Cards

What Science Is Not

How Science Is Done

Theory Into Practice 1.2: Hidden Shapes

Patterns That Connect

Qualities of Scientific Inquiry

Combining the Qualities of Scientific Inquiry to Address Scientific Questions

Theory Into Practice 1.3: The Hypothesis Box

Paradigms and Paradigm Shifts in the Nature of Science


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: Researching Scientist Biographies

Internet Connections: Nature of Science Resources


2. Science Education in Social Context
The Historical Role of Science Education in Our Society

Theory Into Practice 2.1: What Would Life Be Like Without Certain Inventions?

Science Education Within Broader Educational Reforms

Theory Into Practice 2.2: Education Reform and You

The Contemporary Role of Science Education in Our Society and the Current Wave of Science Education Reform

Theory Into Practice 2.3: D efinitions of Scientific Literacy

Broader Education Reforms and Science Education

Learning to Speak the Language of Science

Theory Into Practice 2.4: Metaphors in Science

Ethics in Science and the Concept of Human Progress

Theory Into Practice 2.5: Ethics and the Humane Treatment of Experimental Animals


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: Creating a Virtual Smithsonian Science Museum

Internet Connections: Science Museums on the Internet


3. Toward a Philosophy of Hands-On Inquiry-Based Science Education
Piagetian Constructivism and Learning Through Rediscovery

Learning Through Play

Theory Into Practice 3.1: Helping Students Make Meaning of Experience

Designing Experiments and Learning Through Project-Based Science

Theory Into Practice 3.2: Learning by Design

Sociocultural Theory and Learning Through Legitimate Peripheral Participation

Theory Into Practice 3.3: Learning Theories Textbook Review

On-Line Resources and the Changing Science Classroom


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: Studying Natural Disasters

Internet Connections: Design-Based Learning


4. Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom
History of Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom

Theory Into Practice 4.1: Draw a Scientist

Current Science Education Reforms and Their Impact on Diverse Learners

Theory Into Practice 4.2: Mapping the Increasing Diversity in American Classrooms

Strategies for Working With Diverse Learners in the Science Classroom

Theory Into Practice 4.3: Two-Column Girls and Scientists Activity

Theory Into Practice 4.4: Modifying Lab Activities

Theory Into Practice 4.5: Sheltered Second- Language Activity

Theory Into Practice 4.6: Debating the “Fairness” of Gifted Education


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: Auditory and Visual Learning in Science Education

Internet Connections: Science for Diverse Learners


5. Observing as a Scientist and as a Science Teacher
Scientific Observation

Theory Into Practice 5.1: Observation Experiment: Watching a Traffic Pattern

Observation in the Classroom

From Observation to Assessment of Science Learning

From Observation to Managing the Classroom to Enhance Science Learning

Creating a Safe Science Learning Environment

Field Experiences, Peer Teaching, and Other Opportunities to Practice the Craft of Science Teaching

Observational Forms

Theory Into Practice 5.2: Science Lesson Observation Form

Theory Into Practice 5.3: Observing in a Science Museum or Other Non-School Setting

Theory Into Practice 5.4: Interviewing a Teacher After Observing a Science Lesson

Beyond Observation: Other Science Inquiry Processes

Creating a Science Educator’s Portfolio

Theory Into Practice 5.5: Looking at Electronic Portfolios


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: Combining Content with Field Experiences

Internet Connections: Scientific Observation

Part II. Teaching and Learning the Science Disciplines
6. Understanding and Teaching Earth and Space Sciences
Earth Scientists Then and Now: Mary Anning and Charles Keeling

The Place of Earth and Space Science in Science Education

Measuring and Estimating in Earth and Space Science

Experiment 1: Estimating the Number of Books in Your School Library

Experiment 2: Orienteering

Experiment 3: Geologic Time on a Football Field

The Cosmos: The Sun, Planets, Solar System, Stars, and Beyond

Experiment 4: Solar System Model

Experiment 5: Expanding Universe Model

Experiment 6: Hot Enough to Fry an Egg

Astronomy: Observing the Heavens From Earth in the Past and Present

Experiment 7: Modeling Phases of the Moon

Experiment 8: The Changing Seasons

Experiment 9: Changing Lengths of Shadows

Restless Earth: Earth’s Composition, Layers, Movements, and Impacts in Surface Features

Experiment 10: Convection Currents

Experiment 11: Mountain Building With Towels

Experiment 12: Earthquake-Resistant Structures

Rocks and Minerals: Formation, Identification, and Human Use of Common Rocks and Minerals

Experiment 13: Crystals in Your Kitchen

Experiment 14: Identifying Minerals

Experiment 15: Determining Soil Type

Earth Cycles: Many Processes on Earth Operate in Cycles

Experiment 16: Building an Aquifer Model

Experiment 17: Edible Rock Cycle

Experiment 18: Cloud in a Bottle

Weather and Climate: Weather Patterns, Climate Zones, and Climatic Change Over Time

Experiment 19: Tracking Rainfall

Experiment 20: Making an Anemometer

Experiment 21: Rainforest Terrarium

Atmosphere: Atmospheric Movement, Layers, Pressure and Cloud Formation, Smog and Pollution

Experiment 22: Why Are Clouds White?

Experiment 23: Why Is the Sky Blue?

Experiment 24: Smog in a Jar

Water and Oceans: Fresh Water/Salt Water Distribution, Interactions, and Contamination

Experiment 25: How Salty Is Too Salty?

Experiment 26: Mapping the Ocean Floor

Experiment 27: Oil Spill Clean-Up

Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Internet Connections: Earth and Space Science

7. Understanding and Teaching Biology
Biologists Then and Now: Ernst Haeckel and Steven Jay Gould

The Place of Biology in Science Education

Measurement in Biology

Experiment 28: Measuring Peak Flow Rate

Experiment 29: Estimating Lengths of Very Small Objects

Experiment 30: Measuring Population Change


Experiment 31: Observation in the Bag

Experiment 32: Developing a System of Classification

Experiment 33: Classifying Different Animals


Experiment 34: Seed Germination

Experiment 35: Making a Plant Cell Model

Experiment 36: The Effect of Acid Rain on Plant Growth


Experiment 37: Owl Pellet Dissection

Experiment 38: Making an Animal Cell Model

Experiment 39: Conducting a Bird Census

Neither Plant nor Animal: Protista, Monera, Viruses, Bacteria, Fungi

Experiment 40: Exploring Pond Water

Experiment 41: The Power of Yeast

Experiment 42: Making Yogurt

Ladder of Life: The Building Blocks of Organisms

Experiment 43: Cell Packing

Experiment 44: Photosynthesis and Transpiration

Experiment 45: Minimal Surfaces in Natural and Biological Forms

Code of Life: All Life Is Based on the Same Genetic Code

Experiment 46: Making a Model of the DNA Double Helix

Experiment 47: Black Marker “Fingerprints”

Experiment 48: Hearing Loss Simulation

Evolution: Natural Selection and Evidence for Species Evolution

Experiment 49: Bird Beak Models

Experiment 50: Experimenting With Stereoscopic Vision

Experiment 51: Design-an-Organism

Biomes and Ecosystems: Interactions Between Plants, Animals, and the Non-Living World

Experiment 52: Tracing Food Webs

Experiment 53: Greenhouse Effect Model

Experiment 54: Unintended Consequences

The Human Body and Human Health

Experiment 55: You Are What You Eat

Experiment 56: Modeling the Human Arm

Experiment 57: Spreading Infectious Disease

Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Internet Connections: Biology


8. Understanding and Teaching Chemistry
Chemists Then and Now: Marie Curie and Frank Sherwood Rowland

The Place of Chemistry in Science Education

Measurement in Chemistry

Experiment 58: Estimating Volume

Experiment 59: Making a Thermometer

Experiment 60: Serial Dilution of Colored Liquid

Atoms, Elements, and Molecules

Experiment 61: Marshmallow Molecule Models

Experiment 62: Evaporating Molecules

Experiment 63: Elements You Eat


Experiment 64: Hot Air Rises

Experiment 65: Densities of Liquids

Experiment 66: Making Salt Crystals

Experiment 67: Floating a Needle on Water

Experiment 68: Separating Mixtures

Experiment 69: Comparing Soaps


Experiment 70: Evaporation of Alcohol and Water

Experiment 71: Hot and Cold Water Mixtures

Experiment 72: Making Ice Cream


Experiment 73: Burning Candles

Experiment 74: Creating a Simple Vacuum

Experiment 75: Cartesian Diver


Experiment 76: Building a Voltaic Pile

Experiment 77: Making a Solar Water Heater

Experiment 78: Peanut Power

Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Internet Connections: Chemistry


9. Understanding and Teaching Physics
Physicists Then and Now: Michael Faraday and Stephen W. Hawking

The Place of Physics in Science Education

Measurement in Physics

Experiment 79: Using Standard and Nonstandard Units of Length

Experiment 80: Determining Relative and Absolute Weights Using a Pan Balance

Experiment 81: Using a Stopwatch to Measure Time

Force: Gravity, Velocity, Acceleration, Newton’s Laws

Experiment 82: Flipping a Card off Your Finger While Leaving a Quarter in Place

Experiment 83: Swinging a Bucket of Water in a Circle Without Getting Wet

Experiment 84: Demonstrating “Lift” with a Ping-Pong Ball and Straw

Forms of Energy

Experiment 85: Bouncing Superballs

Experiment 86: Modeling Nuclear Half-Life

Experiment 87: Creating an Electroscope to Detect Static Electricity

Simple Machines

Experiment 88: Experimenting With Pulleys

Experiment 89: Experimenting With Ramps

Experiment 90: Experimenting With Levers


Experiment 91: Demonstrating the Conduction of Sound

Experiment 92: Experimenting With Harmonic Sound

Experiment 93: Experimenting With Resonance

Light and Color

Experiment 94: Making a Thaumatrope

Experiment 95: Color Blending

Experiment 96: Bending Light

Electricity and Magnetism

Experiment 97: Observing Magnetic Fields

Experiment 98: Making a Simple Circuit

Experiment 99: Making an Electromagnet

Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Experiment 100: Design Your Own Experiment

Internet Connections: Physics


Part III. Making the Transition From Preservice Teacher to Inservice Teacher
10. Teacher Professional Development: Growing as a Teacher of Science
History of Teacher Professional Development

The Current State of Teacher Professional Development

Theory Into Practice 10.1: Recertification Requirements Across States

Action Research: From Research “On” to Research “With”

Lesson Study

Theory Into Practice 10.2: The TIMMS Video Project

Parental Involvement and Parental Engagement

Theory Into Practice 10.3: Parent Interview

Professional Organizations: NSTA

Advanced Study

Theory Into Practice 10.4: Interviewing an NBCT in Your School District

Applying for Grants

Theory Into Practice 10.5: If I Had $500


Student Study Site

Reflections on Science

Learning Science On-Line: On-Line Resources for Science Teaching


Appendix. The National Science Education Standards for Science Content
About the Authors

Great content for Science Praxis prep.

Dr Michelle Daussin
Ed Leadership/Coun/Found Dept, University Of New Orleans
August 7, 2023

Excellent science methods book and it explains theory and strategies for use in the classroom.

Mr Willis Lewis
Elementary Education, Indian Bible College
September 21, 2015

I love how the book pays attention to cultural historical and diversity issues of science and science education.

Mrs Sanaz Farhangi
teaching and learning, New York University
February 4, 2013

Great combination of theory, practice, and historical context.

Dr Kimberly Lanier
School of Education, University of Miami
October 22, 2010

For instructors

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412979917