In yesterday's post I talked about mapping out the upper grades reading and writing curriculum. Today I am moving on to science. The overall sequence looks like this:
As I explain in our application, the cool thing about this approach to science is that it mimics our children's' own expanding awareness of their world. We move from the concrete - what can I observe about this animal's body? - to the abstract - how can I observe heat rising? - as our student's own cognitive abilities develop.
Consistent with our overall goals of building background knowledge and reading stamina, we also plan to read a number of biographies of important scientific figures from around the world. While Marie Curie or Albert Einstein are familiar to most of us, Chinese astronomer Zhang Heng and the Persian polymath Avicenna are less so. Which is of course great, as it helps expand their world view. And perhaps ours too?
I owe a deep debt to educator, author and mother Susan Wise Bauer for her ideas and book recommendations that drive much of our proposed approach to science and history. In describing a book of physics experiments that can be used for 4th grade, Susan notes that "one or two of the experiments use items more common in the 50's than today." Flipping through the book I ran across this illustration:
No - we will not be using cigarette smoke to illustrate that heat rises.
But you can look forward to your kids coming home with news of the beetles that Charles Darwin loved to play with when he was a young boy, the incredible drive of young Marie Curie, who cleaned houses in her native Poland for years to earn enough money to attend university in Paris, and of course the fact that earthworms are slimy on the outside because they secrete mucus.