Teaching Science through a Systems Approach
Llewellyn, Douglas, Johnson, Scott, Science Scope
Mr. McKenna teaches seventh-grade science at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The district's science curriculum for grade seven specifies the study of the systems in the human body. In Mr. McKenna's classes, students study the systems of the body independently and sequentially. The study of the human body begins with the digestive system, followed by the skeletal system, circulatory system, nervous system, and excretory system. At the conclusion of each unit, students are given a multiplechoice test to assess their ability to recall body parts and their functions.
Across the hall, Ms. Watkins also teaches seventh-grade science. Following the same curriculum, Ms. Watkins takes an atypical, metaphorical approach in her teaching. She commences the human body unit with a discussion about the commonalities that exist amongst an organization. Using the school as an example, she introduces the notion of a system to demonstrate how parts of a system are interrelated and how all the subsystems and parts of the subsystems act in concert to perform a specific function. Ms. Watkins familiarizes students with the concept of systems by discussing examples of engineering systems, natural systems, and social systems. To show an example of several familiar natural systems, she shows students typical food webs for several types of communities, including a forest, a pond, and a desert. She also compares that natural system to another system: a transportation map of the local bus system and commuter rail.
Students in Ms. Watkins class quickly understand how they are part of a system--be it a family, sports team, school, or community. Students come to grasp the idea that all systems, whether they are biological (like their body) or physical (like an electrical circuit), have inputs and outputs and that if one part fails the entire system is affected or may shut down. Once students gain an appreciation of a systems approach, Ms. Watkins prepares an introduction to the systems of the human body and an explanation concerning the connectedness and dependence that characterizes each of the body systems.
What is a system?
A system is a set of individual objects that …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Teaching Science through a Systems Approach. Contributors: Llewellyn, Douglas - Author, Johnson, Scott - Author. Journal title: Science Scope. Volume: 31. Issue: 9 Publication date: Summer 2008. Page number: 21. © 2009 National Science Teachers Association. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.