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EDE 407

Science: Concepts and Methods



City University



Classroom Syllabus


EDE 407

Science:  Concepts and Methods



5 Credit Hours


Effective: September, 2002




Required Resources



Kelsey, K., & Steel, A. (2001).  The truth about science: A curriculum for developing young scientists.  Arlington, VA:  National Science Teachers Association.

Sunal, D. and Sunal, C. (2003).  Science in the elementary and middle schoolUpper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education, Inc./Merrill Prentice-Hall.

Washington State Commission on Student Learning.  (1998).  Essential academic learning requirements:  Technical manual. Olympia, WA: Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Hult, C. A., & Huckin, T. N. (2004). The brief new century handbook (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Longman. 


Access to a personal computer is required. All written assignments except lesson exercises and tests must be word-processed.


EDE 407

Science: Concepts and Methods


This document provides an overview of the course foundation elements, assignments, schedules and activities. For information about general City University policies, please see the City University catalog. If you have additional questions about the course, please contact your instructor.


Notification to Students with Disabilities


If you are a student with a disability and you require course adaptations or accommodations, please contact the Affirmative Action Coordinator in the Disability Resource Office as soon as possible. You may also contact your instructor or advisor for assistance.


Scholastic Honesty


Students are responsible for understanding City University’s policy on Scholastic Honesty and are required to adhere to its standards in meeting all course requirements. Violations of the policy include, among other practices:

  1. Cheating;
  2. Plagiarizing;
  3. Submitting substantially the same work for two different courses without prior permission from the instructors;
  4. Collaborating on assignments without prior permission of the instructor;
  5. Submitting papers written wholly or partly by someone else;
  6. Helping someone else commit an act of scholastic dishonesty.


Common violations are copying from someone else’s test paper, using unauthorized books or notes during a test, and using previously published material without clear citations to identify the source. Cases of suspected scholastic dishonesty are referred to the university Scholastic Honesty Committee, which can apply a variety of penalties ranging in severity, including assigning a zero grade for the course, suspension, and dismissal from the university. In cases of suspected scholastic dishonesty, a paper may be submitted to an online service that checks the content of the paper against a database of source material. The submitted paper may be added to a permanent archive.


For more complete information, students should read the section on Scholastic Honesty (under the heading of Student Rights and Responsibilities) in the university catalog, available in print or online at When in doubt about applications to a particular course or situation, students should ask the instructor for guidance.


Course Description


The purpose of this course is to explore the teaching and learning of science in grades K-8.  The course focuses on meaningful learning of essential science knowledge that has its foundation in the national science standards and the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EARLs).  Participants learn concepts, methods and materials that are essential and effective in teaching science to elementary school students as they examine the nature of science, history and goals of science education, research on science learning, and constructivist frameworks for curriculum and instruction.  Participants apply, evaluate, and reflect upon elementary science teaching methods and the content of science instruction through class activities, related field experience assignments, and individual and group projects.  Special emphasis in this course will be in the area of Inquiry methodologies.


This course is in compliance with Washington State Administrative Code provisions.


Learning Goals


Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:


1.  Describe the characteristics of effective science teaching using inquiry and constructivist teaching methodologies in the elementary and middle schools;


1.  Demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of curricular approaches available to elementary science educators, including environmental, inquiry, research, and interdisciplinary curricula;


  1. Design science lessons and units that are developmentally appropriate and sensitive to the needs, values, and interests of a diverse group of students;


  1. Describe science in terms of the construction of knowledge;


  1. Demonstrate understanding of how children learn, especially with regard to science;


  1. Establish rules and procedures that ensure the physical safety of children while doing science;


  1. Use best practices in science instruction that reflect knowledge of current research in science education;


  1. Demonstrate understanding of science content and curriculum K-8;


  1. Demonstrate understanding of the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements for science K-8;


  1. Demonstrate understanding of the national standards for science education;


  1. Use diagnostic observation skills, instructional strategies, and classroom management techniques to promote science learning in small group or whole-class settings;


  1. Use technology to do, learn, and teach science;



Core Concepts 

This course focuses on the science content taught in elementary and middle schools and on the pedagogy for that content.  In this course, participants develop their understanding and knowledge of core concepts related to the following science education topics:


  1. Effective science teaching;
  2. Meaningful learning in science;
  3. Science lesson and unit planning;
  4. Science investigations and research projects;
  5. Inquiry;
  6. Conceptual learning and science content;
  7. Science process skills;
  8. Attitudes and dispositions of science learning;
  9. Assessment and evaluation of science learning;
  10. Science for all students;
  11. Teaching physical science;
  12. Teaching life sciences;


Relationship of Course to Program Curriculum


This course is an introduction to science concepts taught in the elementary & middle school and the methods and materials for teaching them.  It is a foundation course in the Bachelor of Arts in Education with the Elementary Education (K-8) Primary Endorsement.


Entry Competencies


Admittance to the Bachelor of Arts in Education program or prior approval of the Program Director or Senior Faculty is required before students begin this course. 


Recommended Supplementary Resources  

As a City University student, you have access to library resources regardless of where you are taking this class.  For more information, click on “Library” at the bottom of the City U website (

 ·         Cooperative libraries in Vancouver (WA and BC), Spokane, Portland, Seattle, the Tri-Cities, Lynnwood, Bremerton, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Victoria and Yakima


Print Resources


Brown, J., & Shavelson, R. (1996).  Assessing hands-on scienceThousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.

Cain, S. (2002).  Sciencing (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education Merrill/Prentice Hall.

National Research Council.  (1996).  National science education standardsWashington, D.C.National Academy Press.

National Science Teachers Association.  (1993).  Science for all cultures:  A collection of articles from NASA’s journals.  Arlington, VA:  National Science Teachers Association.

National Science Teachers Association.  (1994).  Everyday science:  An enrichment calendar.  Arlington, VA:  National Science Teachers Association.

Novak, J. (1995).  Concept maps help teachers learn.  New York, NY:  Cornell University.


Electronic Resources


The following Internet resources may be of use to you in this course. Please be aware that Web addresses may change from time to time. Consult your instructor if you have questions about electronic resources.


City University


Global Network Navigator



Ask Eric Home Page


Department of Education



Library WWW Servers



Online Computer Library Center



Seattle Internet Directory



Webster’s Dictionary


Washington State Commission on Student Learning



Whole Internet Catalog-Education



National Mathematics Standards



Internet Search Topics:



Science Education

Life Science

Physical Science

National Science Standards


Lesson Plans

Earth Science

Project-based Learning


Overview of Course Activities and Grading


You will complete both in-class activities in the university classroom, instructional activities in a field experience classroom (local school district), and field experience activities related to a science research project.  These activities include both individual and group activities such as readings, discussion, lesson planning, quizzes, oral presentations, and written reports.  The grade you receive for the course will be derived using City University’s decimal grading system, based on the following:




Participation and In-Class Activities


Science Research Project


Presentation of Research Project


Analysis of Science Lesson Plans


Science Unit Instructional Plan


Lab Demos



Please see the current City University catalog or consult your instructor for guidance in determining your decimal grade.


Work Quality


Writing clear and error-free English is a priority, as are clear explanations.  Projects and papers must be word-processed.  Please use a spell-checker and accurate proof-reading to ensure that work is error-free.  Please use a 10- or 12-point font and either 1.5 or double spacing.  Please do not make the margins less than one inch on all sides of the page.  Use only one side of a paper.  Use APA standards for documentation and/or presentation.


Explanation of Assignments and Grading


Attendance, Participation, and In-Class Activities 

Class attendance and participation are integral components of this course.  Class participation expands the participant’s knowledge and ability to implement strategies learned in the course.  Thus, it is essential that you attend class, read the materials assigned, and participate actively in class activities or discussions.  Class participation and mastery of key concepts comprise 10% of the course grade.  Students cannot earn participation points or receive credit for in-class activities when they are absent.  Class participation points cannot be made up.  All assignments must be submitted on time for full credit.  As a prospective teacher, you are expected to demonstrate a commitment to professionalism, in part through regular attendance and participation.  In addition, this course is a foundation course and the concepts acquired here will be of use in other program courses.


Grading Criteria for Attendance and Participation


Promptness and attendance at each class


On-task behavior


Task completeness and mastery of concepts


Leadership and support in groups






Science Research Project 

Working in groups of 3 or 4, you will complete an independent science research project.  You will select and develop this project using the attached Research Project Outline.  Use the textbook The Truth about Science: A Curriculum for Developing Young Scientists (Kelsey & Steel) as a guide.  The objective of this research project is for you to learn and practice the skills of inquiry, research, and scientific investigation that you may later utilize in your own classroom.  You are NOT to report on research or data gathered by others; rather, you are to collect your own scientific data and report on your own findings.  Prior to implementing the project, your group is to prepare a Research Proposal and have it approved by the instructor.  After conducting your investigation, you will report on the project to the class.  Specific project directions and a project rubric are attached.  In-class activities and field experiences will be related to this project throughout the course.


Grading Criteria for Science Research Project


Organization, including following required format


Quality presentation of group Research Proposal according to specified guidelines



Design and implementation of the project


Data collection, including field work or experiments


Data analysis


Communication of project results


Use of technology






Presentation of Research Project


With your group, prepare and present to the class a 10-15 minute oral report about your project.  Use the information given in the Kelsey and Steel textbook on pages 175-193 to assist you.  You should prepare a Research Poster and a Presentation Summary Handout.  Give copies of your Summary Handout to each of your classmates.  Use the outline on page 187 for your handout and your oral presentation.  Your group also needs to prepare and submit a final written report on the project.  Include the same headings in the final written report that were included in the Research Proposal.  A sample final report is given in Appendix C of the Kelsey and Steel text.


Grading Criteria for Presentation of Research Project


Quality preparation and presentation of Research Poster


Quality preparation and presentation of Research Summary handout to class



Overall quality of written research report by Project Rubric


Organization, thoroughness, and quality of oral report summarizing results



Individual contribution to team’s oral report, handouts, and poster including meeting deadlines, completing fair portion of work, and contributing to positive team relations









Analyses of Science Lesson Plans


Select one primary level science lesson plan (K-4) and one middle level science lesson plan (5-8) from a textbook or an internet site.  Using the chart on page 102 (Sunal) re-design each lesson plan as an inquiry lesson.  Include copies of both the original plan and your re-designed plan in the final project.  Write a one-page analysis of the plans describing what needed to be changed, why it needed changing, and how you changed it.


Teach one of the re-designed plans to students in your field experience classroom.  Have your mentor teacher or field supervisor observe the lesson.  Include the observation report with your final project.  Write a one-page reflection on the teaching experience.  Be sure to include what went well, what you might change, and what you learned in your reflection.


Grading Criteria for Analyses of Science Lesson Plans


Quality of re-designed written lesson plans, including completing two plans at specified levels


Creativity and innovation


In-depth analysis and reflection shown in written summary of analysis and re-design of plans


Quality teaching experience in elementary classroom, including observation by mentor or field supervisor


Quality of written reflection on teaching experience


Evidence that teacher candidate understands inquiry format, including questions asked and process skills included







Science Unit Instructional Plan  

Select a science unit topic from an elementary science textbook or generate your own topic.  Create a science unit instructional plan using the first 14 steps described in Sunal Chapter 9 (pgs 247-259).  Include the following items in your final Science Unit Instructional Plan’s written presentation:



Targeted grade level:

Unit Title:  (Be sure to create an interesting title!)


Research on the Topic:

Summarize the key knowledge students should learn by listing the unit’s major concepts (in sentence form).  Identify any alternative conceptions that are commonly held by children and generate ideas for modifying them.


Special Needs:

List 3 possible special needs students may have and give some suggestions for adapting the unit to accommodate these needs.

Focus Questions:

Brainstorm a  list of your unit’s focus questions.  Evaluate the questions by considering the following:

  • ·        What kinds of questions are being asked?
  • ·        Are “how” or “why” questions included?
  • ·        Do questions represent a variety of inquiry skills and thinking levels from recall to evaluation?
  • ·        To what extent do questions relate to students’ interests and needs?

On the basis of your evaluation, modify and select the final focus questions.


Learning Outcomes:

Brainstorm a list of intended learning outcomes.  Use the process on pg 250 (Sunal) to ensure you have outcomes not activities.  Now, create a chart to categorize your learning outcomes as generalizations, concept, or inquiry skill.


Idea Web:

Develop a hierarchical or schematic component web according to the directions on pgs 251-254 (Sunal).


Rationale and Goals:

Create a one-paragraph rationale and goal statement for the unit.  Use the information on pgs 245-255 (Sunal) to help you.



Create a KWL Chart about the unit by interviewing a small group or the whole class of students in your field experience classroom.



List the objectives for your unit.  Relate them to the Washington State EALR’s and the National Science Education Standards.


Lesson Plan Development:

Brainstorm a list of possible activities and resources related to your unit outcomes and objectives.  Now create a list of possible lesson plans by outlining their major outcomes, skills, or activities in topic form (i.e. Lesson on using internet to search for types of rocks; activity on how to make a line graph; classifying soil types; observing animal habitats, etc.).  You do NOT need to create the actual lesson plans.



Describe or list uses of technology and types of technology you plan to include in this unit.



Describe any safety concerns you to need to plan for or give special attention to as you implement the unit.


Assessment Plan:

Describe your overall assessment plan in one or two paragraphs.  Be sure to include assessments for all major projects, a variety of assessments, some performance assessments.  Include plans for how you will grade the unit.


Grading Criteria for Science Unit


Quality of written plan, including adherence to specified format


Creativity and innovation


Articulation of concepts


Focus Questions, including questions addressing a variety of thinking levels, skills, and interests



Idea Web, including completeness, creativity, presentation


Rationale and Goals


Lesson Plan Development


KWL, including involvement of field experience students


Outcomes and objectives


Assessment Plan








 Course Schedule  

The following schedule has been provided as a general guide to the course. Your instructor may elect to adjust the outline to meet the unique needs of the class.



Topics and Assignments






Orientation/Course Overview

Explanation of Research Project

Topics:  Effective Science Teaching, Science Ideas, National Science Standards, Ooze Observations and Experiments

Sunal  Chapter 1


Kelsey & Steel


OCT 11



Topics: The Learning Cycle, Science as Inquiry, Research Project Proposals, Science Box Experiments, Wheel of Inquiry

DUE:     Science Theme Box In-Class Activity

Sunal  Chapters 2, 3, 4


Kelsey & Steel pgs 1-75


OCT 18




Topic:   Conceptual learning, Science Content, Planning Science Units, Methods and Materials for Research, Field Studies


DUE:     Science Unit Topic

Sunal  Chapters 5, 6, 9


Kelsey & Steel pgs 76-94


OCT 25


Topic:  Science Safety, Assessment and Evaluation in Science, Analyzing Research Results


DUE:      Group Research Proposals

Sunal  Chapters 7. 8


Kelsey & Steel pgs 95-160




Topic:   Classroom Science Programs


               Lab Demos

DUE:     Primary Science Lesson Plan

Sunal  Chapters 10, 11, 12






Topic:   Teaching Physical Science

               Lab Demos

DUE:     Middle School Science Lesson Plan

Sunal  Chapter 13


Kelsey * Steel pgs 161-189


NOV 15


Topic:    Teaching the Life Sciences


                Lab Demos

DUE:      Science Instructional Unit Plan

Sunal  Chapter 14


Kelsey * Steel pgs 161-189


NOV 22


Topic:   Teaching Earth and Space Science


                Lab Demos

Sunal  Chapter 15


Kelsey * Steel pgs 161-189


NOV 29

Topic:   Research Projects



DUE:    Written Research Project Reports





Topic:   Research Projects



DUE:    Oral Research Project Reports



EDE 407:  Science Concepts and Methods


Group Research Project Requirements


Working in groups of 3 or 4, you are to select a topic area related to middle school science.  These topic areas may include physical science, earth science, life science, environmental science, ecology, and others.  Your instructor can assist you with topic ideas and you may consult resources.


After your group has agreed upon a topic area, you are to refine the project through preparation of a Research Proposal.  You will actually carry out the research project and report on its results to the class.  Further directions will be given for the final report and class presentation.


We will complete sample investigations related to this project in class.  You should also use the text book listed below as a guide for this project:


Kelsey, K., & Steel, A. (2001).  The truth about science: A curriculum for developing young scientists.  Arlington, VA:  National Science Teachers Association.



Your Group Research Project Proposal should include the following information:


  1. Hypothesis/problem statement


  1. Materials needed


  1. Data Collection


  1. Procedures


  1. Presentation of Findings and Data Analysis


  1. Summary and Conclusions


  1. What you have learned/what you might do differently


  1. Bibliography


Hypothesis/problem statement: 

Your project should be based on a question you are interested in answering.  The hypothesis should be simple and you should not try to answer too many questions.  However, as you collect data and begin data analysis, additional questions may arise.


Materials Needed: 

Develop a list of materials you need to complete the project.  Remember:  you will be actually doing this experiment or data collection.  Do not select a project that is not feasible because the materials are too expensive or unavailable.  Your materials list should be comprehensive (include everything needed).  The list might include such items as tide charts, lunar phases of the moon, meter sticks, compass, protractor, calculator, etc.  As the project develops, the original materials list may expand.


Data Collection:

Each project should include a sound data collection process.  You should determine ahead of time what data will be collected and ask how it should be recorded, tabulated, plotted, analyzed, interpreted, presented, etc.  Data may include actual physical measurements taken, photographs, videos made, data collected from newspaper publications, internet research, experiment results, etc.  You should determine how best to present the data also.  Each student must keep an individual, dedicated, bound notebook that is submitted as part of the final project.



You are to prepare a brief outline of the procedures your group plans to follow, describing the scope of work of your project.  The final procedure will be more detailed and included in your final report.


Presentation of Findings and Data Analysis:

Your final project must include a presentation of the data in chart or graphic form and in a written and oral presentation.  As data are collected, you should keep track of your records in your bound Data Collection notebooks.  Your instructor will check the notebooks periodically.  In your notebooks, you should make note of any questions that come up or observations you have. 


Summary and Conclusions:

Your final report will include a section on summary of the project and its conclusions.  These statements should answer the questions developed in the data analysis section and also should relate back to the problem statement and the hypothesis.  Conclusions about the data may be made based on outside research if needed.


What have you learned?  What might you do differently?

Once the project is completed, you are required to evaluate objectively (individually and in group discussion) the work you have done.  Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • ·        Did the data collected answer your hypothesis/problem statement?
  • ·        What does the data show?
  • ·        By comparing the information presented in your proposal with your completed project, were there any surprises or additions in the process?
  • ·        If given the opportunity to repeat the project, what would you do differently?
  • ·        What did you learn -- about doing science and about teaching science?



You must include a bibliography with your final report showing that at least three resources (books, journals, etc.) were consulted about some phase of the project or for background information.  Use correct APA form.


Lab Demos

Part of providing your future students with a powerful science program involves having a large arsenal of science lab activities.  In this course you will be expected to find one complete lab activity that you will teach to our class as if we were your future elementary or middle school class.  This lab demo presentation is worth 15% of your overall grade.  This presentation needs to include a lab activity that can be introduced, preformed and concluded in a typical 50-minute class period.  In some cases, a conclusion can be simply discussed if data collecting is to take place over an extended period of time.  You will need to provide TWO copies of the lab activity handouts to all students in the class – one to write on and one to keep for future reference.  The topics of the lab activities are virtually limitless but must include background information, materials lists, procedures, data collecting and analysis questions.  Please remember that it is important to select labs that have reasonable materials lists that contain items that one might reasonable expect to see in an elementary or middle school science department.