An Overview of Ready, Set, Science by Sarah Michaels

An Overview of
Ready, Set, Science
by Sarah Michaels, Andrew W, Shouse and Heidi A.
This overview was written by Ellen F.
Bailey in order to share this resource with
her colleagues.
Based on Taking Science to School, a
Report on Best Practices in Teaching Science
Synthesis of research on learning and teaching
A redefinition of and framework for what it means to be
proficient in science
A practical means for implementing current brain-based
research in science education
Acknowledge and support the work of teachers while
explaining the implications of new knowledge for
classroom practice.
Chapter One – A New Vision of Science
in Education
Four Reasons to Teach Science Well
Can be harnessed to improve quality of life on a
global scale
May provide a foundation for the development of
language, logic and problem-solving skills
As a democracy, we are dependent on citizens
who can make personal, community-based and
national decisions that involve scientific
For some students, science will become a
lifelong vocation or avocation.
What Scientists Really Do
Involves Creativity
– Approach problems in many different ways with
many different preconceptions
– There is no single “scientific method” employed by
all scientists
– A wide array of methods is used to develop
hypotheses, models, formal and informal theories
– Different methods are used to assess the
fruitfulness of theories and experiments
– A range of tools is used to collect data, enhance
observations and make measurements
Is a Social Enterprise
– Communication with colleagues is a vital part of
– Research is completed in large groups or by
networks of scientists
– Discuss frequently the validity of data and
The Language of Science
It is vital that teachers be very clear when using
science terms. For example,
Theory: well-established understanding that has undergone
significant testing and is almost impossible to dispute
Datum or data (pl.): observation recorded for future
analysis- no opinions allowed
Evidence: cumulative body of data or observations of a
Fact: Best seen as evidence. For example, it is a fact that
different types of earthquakes occur. But, the explanation of
plate tectonics as a reason for earthquakes is scientific
Science in the Classroom
How a well run science classroom is remarkable
similar to the way scientists operate in the real
– Engage in the process of logical reasoning
– Work cooperatively to explore ideas
– Use mathematical or mechanical models
– Develop representations of phenomena
– Work with various intellectual and technological
– Participate in active and rigorous discussion
– Examine, review and evaluate their own
– See science as a process of building theories
Ready, Set, Science and Teaching in
the Science Classroom
Science Teaching at Its Best
Several examples throughout the book of strong
science lessons at all age levels:
Seeing Ourselves in Measurement
Measuring and Graphing Height
Biodiversity in a Schoolyard
Molecules in Motion
Establishing Classroom Norms for Discussion
Rethinking Children’s Capacity for
Scientific Understanding
The capacity of young children to reason
scientifically is much greater than has been
previously assumed.
So teachers must…
Engage children in a wide range of subtle and
complex reasoning processes, even at very
young ages in order to build a foundation of deep
questioning and thinking.
Building on Knowledge, Interest and
Let students communicate what they already know,
think and understand. Build from there with practice
in observation, creating hypotheses, collecting and
analyzing data.
Students must present evidence to one another and
learn how to engage in healthy disagreements about
Work as a classroom community to solve problems.
Use as much variety as possible in tools,
communication techniques and data collection.
Science should be creative!
The Rest of the Book
The goal of the remainder of the book is to teach the teacher.
This book will give the science teacher the tools needed to
meet the ideals set out in chapter one.
The titles of the remaining chapters:
– Ch. 2: Four Strands of Science Learning
– Ch. 3: Foundational Knowledge and Conceptual Change
– Ch. 4: Organizing Science Education Around Core
– Ch. 5: Making Thinking Visible: Talk and Argument
– Ch. 6: Making Thinking Visible: Modeling and
– Ch. 7: Learning From Science Investigations
– Ch. 8: A System That Supports Science Learning
Why Every Science Teacher Should
Read This Book
This book finally is a handbook on HOW to teach
science in a way that uses the latest brain research.
This book is practical with a multitude of lessons that
can be used in almost any science classroom.
This is K-8 book with activities and lessons for every
age level. This book also makes clear the
progression in development in a way that informs the
science teacher’s practice!
The Text is Available ONLINE
Ready, Set, Science! is available online, free
to the public (as are all reports published by
the National Academies Board on Science
Here is the link:
Michaels, S., Shouse, A., & Schweingruber, H. (2008). Ready,
set, science. Washington DC: The National Academies

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