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Teach Science Concepts in Early Grades, Commentary Urges

A new EdWeek Commentary makes the case that schools should provide a stronger emphasis on science instruction in the elementary grades, beginning as early as kindergarten.

"There is a peak window of opportunity for teaching basic science concepts at the beginning of the elementary school experience that we can no longer afford to ignore," write the five co-authors of the opinion piece, who include two education professors, a physican, a school principal, and the president of the Science Teachers Association of New York state. "Providing a solid science foundation before children enter secondary school should be the single most important step in improving science education in this country."

They point to an "unprecedented opportunity" to revamp science curricula across the country with the recent effort to develop a set of next-generation national science standards, which we've written about several times.

Incidentally, the public-comment period closed just yesterday for the draft framework developed by a panel of experts convened by the National Research Council. That document is intended to guide the development of new, voluntary science standards.

The Commentary says of the draft: "We believe it is imperative that this framework be modeled around teaching fundamental science concepts during the ideal learning period—between kindergarten and 4th grade. Although the current draft document identifies young children's capacity to reason scientifically and places emphasis on the importance of learning core ideas, it does not specify that children can intuitively learn these core concepts through carefully designed activities."

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