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

Science Methods

July 2010 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc


A practical methods text that prepares teachers to engage their students in rich science learning experiences

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.

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

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

Mr Willis Lewis
Elementary Education, Indian Bible College
September 27, 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
Key features

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.

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental