Instructional Models for Elementary School

The gold standard for instruction in elementary science education has been the BSCS 5E Instructional Model.  Developed by Busby while at BSCS in Colorado Springs, maybe, it has a catchy catchy name and is clever blend of constructionist and instruction.  At the very least, it reminds teachers to teach, not just to instruct.

The folks who developed Science4Us were enthralled and inspired by the 5E Instructional Model and implemented the 5E Instructional Model for the primary grades with fidelity and creativity.

Looking forward, there is renewed emphasis on authentic investigative science and it remains to be seen for 3rd- 5th grade this can be merged with the 5E Model. Stay tuned. What’s also fun is how this has been made available to elementary homeschool science learners.


Science is Science

To start 2018, I will make a point that I hardly believe has to be made.

Science is science.  Science is not part of a spectrum that includes opinions and religions. Science is backed by the scientific method and scientific facts are scientific facts.

Science is agnostic or secular, it has nothing to do with clock makers or intelligent design or any other thinly veiled religious approach to seeing the world.

Science is science. Much like math.  Beautiful. Pure. Complicated. Evolving. As we learn.

How to Homeschool? When people ask me, I say anyway you want. But as long as you are teaching, teach science. Not supernatural stuff. That’s something else and not science.

Dogs and Science

It would seem to me that since we all have pets, we would have a routine set of intelligence tests to determine the intelligence of our dogs.  I’m convinced that my beloved white dog is pretty but really dumb. Her name is Emy.

I have another smaller dog, Bella, who is also a shitzu. I think she is a little brighter.

Neither dog is anywhere near as intelligent as the dog that I had years ago named Lady.

But, this is just my impression, how would we test?  Here’s a post on dog intelligence:

Dr. Hare and his team have developed 9 intelligence profiles for dogs, which are:

  • Ace: Ace accounts for 10% of all dogs. Aces are excellent problem-solvers with top-notch communication skills.
  • Charmer: The Charmer profile accounts for approximately 16% of all dogs. Charmers have excellent social skills and are able to read your body language effectively.
  • Socialite: Socialites are social butterflies with excellent communication skills and account for 22% of all dogs. Socialites may not possess excellent problem-solving skills but they do know how to get what they want.
  • Expert: An expert dog has a strong memory with sharp problem-solving skills and account for approximately 7% of all dogs. Expert dogs tend to be more independent and rely less on humans.
  • Renaissance Dog: Renaissance dogs are extremely attentive; they account for approximately 12% of all dogs. Renaissance dogs are reliable and possess traits from all of the other categories.
  • Protodog: Flexible and spontaneous, protodogs account for approximately 15% of all dogs.
  • Einstein: This accounts for approximately 3% of all dogs. Einsteins have an incredible memory and excellent problem-solving skills. Einsteins are essentially the ‘rocket scientists’ of the dog world, but they struggle socially.
  • Maverick: Approximately 7% of all dogs are considered “maverick,” or very independent problem solvers.
  • Stargazer: Accounts for approximately 8% of all dogs. They are commonly seen as aloof and often struggle both socially and with training.

Dognition also an approach to test dogs intelligence.  They have science-based games that assess 5 core dimensions of your dog’s cognition — empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning.

Bicycle Mechanics Courses for Gen Ed?

I have often thought about creating a course which focuses on bicycles. Most kids learn to ride bicycles and they love them. Embedded in the bicycle, there are a lot of interesting lessons that I think could help.

I’d start with the pictures of the old bicycles.  I might even get one. I’d get everyone to think through the problem of speed, wheel circumference, and why those old bikes really didn’t work very well.

I think this would engage them. There are lots of interesting engineering idicussions about why bicycles which are 2D stay upright.

I’d then move to the endineering of modern bicycles and how gears change ratios. Interesting math and engineering. Something to think about. There must be some great tool kits, either in simulation of mechanical, where kids can practice controlling force and figuring it out.  Anybody developed this course before?


Modern Bike

This is such a good idea, I’ll start researching it and maybe, go for a bike ride!

Science Programs

The last few years have been marked in US science education by:

Continuing Growth in computer science – In addition to high school level courses in programming such as the AP java course, there are high school algorithm courses for the other AP exam, advanced high school (ie post AP courses), and lots of coding and algorithm work in younger grades using programs like Tynker, Codable, Code Monkey etc

Growth in Robotics and robotics competitions – There are leagues from elementary school up and these are great STEM projects which involve teams working together to design, code, 3D model and maintain their robots

Makerspaces with all sorts of tinkering and special interests. For instance, I’ve seen lots of computer controlled sewing machines as well as 3d printing machines being used in all sorts of ways by all sorts of students including those that would have not gotten anywhere near science labs traditionally .



Much Time Has Past


I was recently alerted to the existence of this blog which has the name of a website: SpellingCity – that I founded and operate. Of course, the site’s name is now VocabularySpellingCity and as I look at this blog, I recognize my writing and pictures.

This isn’t a case of copyright infringement, this is a case of my having a bad memory, I had totally forgotten starting this blog. I guess it’s meant to give commentary and for reflexion away from the more commercial busy corporate site that I now run.

This is what’s on my mind this week: doing more with expressions that are commonly used that confuse youngsters and ESL students. Examples:

Raised eyebrows

Opportunity knocking

A chance up at bat

Not a pretty picture

I’d rather die




Whats Hot? Maker Spaces & Robotics

The science K12 world has been abuzz with a few hot trends over the last few year:

  1. Maker Spaces
  2. Robotics
  3. 3D printing
  4. Coding

These tends in science education have been huge, even in elementary school. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have really figured out the youngest grades and how to get kids started in science in the schools where there are so few resources. The problem is really human resources, the whole class instructors that typically teach in the younger grade (K, 1st, and 2nd grade) just do not have the science background to feel comfortable teaching it. More on this next week (I’m trying to revise this blog!).

How Early is Too Early for STEM

STEM is meant to be project based learning with a group of students working as a team on a real world engineering problem.

What if we pointed some children towards a backyard which is a litttle soggy and suggested that they drain itso that they could play.

Could the kids figure out how to build a bunch of drainage ditches and work together to get it done?

This was in fact an experience that I lived through 52 years ago when I was just a little little kid

Robotics, Game Design, & Coding Take Over STEM

The last two years have been marked in STEM by the emergence of robotics and coding as massively popular educational programs.

What an understatement, robotics, game programming, and coding haven’t just emerged, they have charged through the STEM landscape and pretty much stolen the show, upstaged all the other aspects of entire curriculum, and pretty much sucked the oxygen out of the room.

Just a few years, student gardens were all the rage and science teachers were studying the draft version of NGSS but now, it’s all about the robotics and coding.  Is it a good thing? It must be because there’s a resurgence of interest in science and its trendy in way. It’s great if you happen to think game programming, robotics, and coding are gateways to….well, general science curriculum and education.

I do wonder about the core curriculum, take for example,  Matter

  • Materials and Mixtures
  • Observing Matter
  • States of Matter
  • Changes in Matter

STEM Education in Florida

There is so much interest in STEM in Florida, I thought it would be useful to start charting our the different players and approaches.  My focus in elementary and primary STEM and science education in Florida which by itself, is a huge them.

Let’s pick a region, say Palm Beach in South Florida.

First, there’s the Palm Beach Schools with their elementary science curriculum.  They have a grade by grade scope and sequence of the science program as well as information on the science standards and other resources such a robotics, field research, and science fairs.

There’s also a Palm Beach STEM Council made up of a range of interested parties.  Known as STEM PBC, it’s organized by the School Board and includes local STEM interested employers and local universities.  And I quote:

The Council is an alliance of private, public and non-profit sectors that works collaboratively to create and promote STEM education in Palm Beach County.

The purpose of the Palm Beach County STEM Education Council is to address pressing issues in STEM education and identify priority actions that need to be taken to enhance STEM education in Palm Beach County. The work of the council will drive the development and implementation of the Palm Beach County STEM strategic plan. The goal is to build a national model for STEM education and the collaboration of school districts, community partners, philanthropic organizations, and institutions of higher education.

MISSION: The Palm Beach County STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Council represents a unified voice advocating quality STEM education for all students in Palm Beach County. An alliance of public, private and non-profit sectors, the Council works collaboratively to create and promote a world-class approach to STEM education.

It has an impressive list of members. I notice that the leading national digital science program for kindergarent through second grade, Science4Us, which is local to Palm Beach, is not listed as a member. Hmmmmm

STEM Education Council Partners