The mind-building lessons and activities in these books teach topics and skills drawn from state and national science standards to prepare students for more advanced science courses and new assessments that measure reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing in science.
Students read lessons that include a variety of charts, tables, and graphs. Then they answer critical thinking questions to improve their understanding of the science concepts and develop their reading comprehension and inferential and deductive thinking skills. Students can’t just scan the story for answers—they must carefully analyze and synthesize the information from the text, charts, tables, and graphs to explain and support their answers.
Many questions in these books ask students to use complete sentences to explain their thinking. The ability to express their thoughts—supported by evidence—in writing, is not only important in science assessment, it is essential when communicating with other people in school and work. It also promotes better understanding of the concepts being studied. The questions in Science Detective® are modeled after questions found on science assessments but require more critical thinking. There is a growing trend to evaluate responses to open-ended questions in the context of logical reasoning, and many science students score poorly on these test items. The carefully designed questions in in these books will not only develop thinking, reading, and writing skills, but will also familiarize your students with questions found on contemporary science assessments.
Includes teacher and student introductions, a chart of topics and key ideas to help select activities, and detailed answers.
Reproducible. 100+ pages. Answer Key. View Beginning Table of Contents.
Developing Critical Thinking through Science
Hands-On Physical Science
The fun, hands-on physical science lessons/experiments in these books teach science principles found in state and national science standards. Students also learn and practice critical thinking through the application of the scientific method of investigation. Each activity is a 10- to 30-minute guided experiment in which students are prompted to verbalize their step-by-step observations, predictions, and conclusions. Reproducible pictures or charts are included when needed, but the focus is inquiry-based, hands-on science.
Preparation time is short, and most materials can be found around the classroom. Step-by-step procedures, questions, answer guidelines, and clear illustrations are provided. Practical applications at the end of each activity relate science concepts to real-life experiences. These activities can be used successfully with a minimum of science knowledge, preparation time, and science equipment. The lessons/experiments teach science following these four important educational themes:
- Science can and should motivate students toward learning and toward developing curiosity about the world in which they live.
- Science is viewed as an active process of developing ideas, or “storybuilding,” rather than as static bodies of already-existing knowledge to be passed on to students. Instead of merely describing what is taking place, the teacher guides the students through an inquiry process by asking pertinent, open-ended questions and by encouraging investigative process through demonstration, hands-on opportunities, and extension of experiments.
- Students are encouraged to observe and describe their observations accurately and completely using scientific terminology. Scientific terms are defined, demonstrated with concrete examples, then applied and reinforced throughout the activities.
- An open, interactive atmosphere in the classroom is essential. Students and their teacher actively investigate ideas together (compared to a passive learning situation in which students are merely told the problem, given the answers, and expected to memorize the information.) Through observation, hands-on participation, and verbalization of the physical and thought processes, students build a more concrete understanding of the concepts taught in the activities. With the teacher’s help, students can learn to apply these same analytic and problem-solving skills to their other studies and to any classroom or social problems that might arise.
| Book 1 (Grades 1-3) Units:|
• Buoyancy and Surface Tension
• Moving Air—Air Pressure
• Space, Light, and Shadows
| Book 2 (Grades 4-8) Units:|
• Process Skills
• Force, Movement, Work, Systems, and Weight
• States of Matter
• Mass, Volume, and Density
• Air Pressure & Pressure of the Atmosphere
• Heat, Expansion, and the Movement of Molecules
• Transfer of Heat
• Flight and Aerodynamics
• The Speed of Falling Bodies
• The Flight of Rockets
• Inertia and the Flight of Satellites
• Surface Tension and Bubbles
• Reflection and Refraction of Light
• Magnetism and Electricity
Reproducible. 150-300+ pages. Answer Key. View Book 2 Table of Contents.
Daily Mind Builders™ – Science
In addition to waking up sleepy brains for the day’s lessons, these fun, short, daily activity pages develop the most important reading comprehension skill found on all standardized reading tests. Synthesizing disparate information and using the result to produce a reasonable conclusion is an essential skill assessed on standardized reading tests. This comprehension skill usually determines a student’s reading score–and every Daily Mind Builders™ activity develops this skill.
Each daily activity page includes two puzzles that are often solved in 5-15 minutes. The first puzzle is a short, true mystery. Its solution requires careful reading, inferential reasoning, and deductive thinking. The second puzzle involves deductive thinking, and is designed to build vocabulary and associative thinking skills. This puzzle uses a process of elimination involving the meanings of words or relationships between words. Try a sample and you’ll be hooked!
The best use of this book is when presented as a non-threatening, non-graded, fun activity where students are praised for all logical answers even if they don’t happen to be the correct answers. Remember, in critical thinking, the journey is as important as the destination, and all reasonable efforts at critical thinking should be commended.
These intriguing puzzles can also be used as a:
• Motivational beginning activity as an addition to the curriculum.
• Culminating activity after a lesson or at the end of the day.
• Fill-in activity when there is an awkward time break during the school day.
• Valid educational activity for students who finish assigned activities earlier than their classmates.
Reproducible. 144 pages. Answer Key. Grades 5-12. View DMB Science Table of Contents.
Pattern Problems to Develop Mathematical Reasoning
Mathematics and science can be thought of as a search for patterns and structure. Discovery and insight comes when patterns are recognized and structure is understood. From a developmental perspective, the ability to recognize a pattern signals the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. So having students explore pattern problems helps sensitize them to the discovery process that provides a foundation for authentic learning and abstraction. These books provide rich and diverse collections of pattern problems for students to explore, investigate, discover, and create. The five types of pattern problems found in these books are:
- Pattern Predictor
- Equality Explorer
- Sequence Sleuth
- Number Ninja
- Function Finder
There are eight pages of each puzzle type, along with optional hints, and detailed solutions.
The activities are independent and self-contained, but tend to build on one another and get gradually more sophisticated. This collection deliberately avoids use of variables, but the activities involve reasoning that lays a genuine foundation for algebraic thinking and technique. Calculators are never needed, and their use is discouraged.
Parents and teachers should encourage students to pursue these pattern problems with a sense of adventure and perseverance. There are many ways to solve and explain a pattern problem, and the solutions provided are not intended to be unique. In all situations, and at whatever pace and facility, the transition from concrete to abstract thinking is worthwhile.
All activities provide space for work to be shown, but students are encouraged to have scratch paper at hand in case uncovering a pattern merits deeper investigation, such as guess-and-check, drawing diagrams, and making lists or charts.
Reproducible. 88-96 pages. Answer Key. View Level 1 Table of Contents.