Thinking About an Elementary Science Education Curriculum:
Continuing the Conversation

Paul Grobstein
Notes for 8 June meeting
Lansdowne Friends School
6 June 2006

31 May summary and follow up
with Anne Dalke and Alice Lesnick

"Initial thoughts" still wanted for posting at collaboration web site ( - email them to me (

Continuing on-line conversation at

From 31 May

Moving on ...

Continuing from last time: Inquiry sophistication scope and sequence ...

Inquiry skillQuestions exploredBackground knowledgeCommunication Ability/Awarenesses
  • curiosity (inclination to make new observations
  • imagination (story telling ability)
  • ability to distinguish observations from interpretations
  • ability to use interpretations to generate new observations
  • ability to recognize/use multiple interpretations from a given set of observations
  • ability to recognize/use dependence of observations on interpretations
  • ability to make productive use of other peoples' observations/intepretations
  • Who am I?
  • What is outside of me?
  • What is life?
  • What is the relation of living and non-living things?
  • What is culture?
  • What/why is change?
  • scales in space and time
  • biology
  • psychology
  • earth science
  • astronomy
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • mathematics/statistics
  • logic/computer science
  • personal knowledge and conveying it
  • use collective knowledge
  • contribute to collective knowledge
  • assess collective knowledge
Presume kids start with ability to make/learn from observations and to tell "stories", both about what will happen and about what produced what has happened (?) Initial task is to support/encourage those activities, expand their scope, begin developing sense that the products of active inquiry facilitate future inquiry.

Create continuing opportunities to take things apart, put things together, see things in larger contexts in space and time. Include self in observations/stories/explanations. Make use of detective "mysteries" that can be "solved" in a variety of ways, lead on to further questions.

Create contexts that encourage making distinctions between observations and interpretations/stories. Encourage discovery of the advantages of there being multiple possible interpretations of a given set of observations, and of the importance of being deliberate in drawing interpretations from observations.

Create contexts that encourage discovery of advantages of making use of observations/interpretations by others. "communal" character of science/inquiry. Encourage development of ability to criticize observations/intepretations by others.

Create contexts that encourage discovery of the dependence of observations on interpretations/stories, and the uses to which that can be put.

Do all this in context of the "story" of who one is, who one comes to be (cf Teaching science as rich narrative)? With continual revisiting of same questions/some same contents at successive levels of sophistication?

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