Magazine article Technology & Learning

First Science Programs

Magazine article Technology & Learning

First Science Programs

Article excerpt

Nothing comes as naturally to young children as the desire to explore the world around them. Observing, investigating, experimenting, and other hands-on activities are all key to the understanding of basic science concepts. As educators, one of our primary challenges is to preserve and encourage that fascination within the often-limiting confines of the classroom. Here, we look at three good programs that take different approaches to introducing primary-grade students to natural science. Although each fills a separate niche in the school curriculum, they are all activity-based, with numerous on- and offline projects, a good range of teacher/ adult support materials, and lots of kid-appeal.

KinderVentures:

Feed Me !

(Optical Data)

Feed Me ! (the kindergarten component of the Windows on Science series) is one unit of a four-disc library that uses a videodisc, an optional CD-ROM with an interactive game, a range of manipulatives, and other offline materials to help teachers put together a comprehensive science program. Feed Me! focuses on food sources, food groups, and other food-related topics as it guides kids through investigations of how products are grown and how they get from the farm to the dinner table. An excellent 228-page guide takes teachers step by step through 20 days of "circle time," science experiments, field trips, slide shows, and movie clips. Even the necessary permission slips are supplied as blackline masters in both English and Spanish.

Circle time centers around discussions illustrated by the slides and movie clips contained on the videodisc. For each session, the program provides a number of discussion topics, possible answers, and even tie-ins to other subject areas. Slides and clips target specific topics, and lead kids directly into follow-up activities including dramatic play, scavenger hunts, puzzle creation, and graphing exercises. My favorite activities were the imaginative experiments that ask students to investigate the difference between a one-, two-, and four-minute egg; follow instructions to grow their own plants; or perform other hands-on tasks.

From art projects to bulletin board designs, Feed Me! is truly a rich resource. It is so large, in fact, that a wish list would include a content-specific index so that teachers not following the text page by page can more easily access the hundreds of ideas and activities found scattered among discussion topics and videodisc access codes.

Ozzie's World

(Digital Impact)

Ozzie's World is a lighthearted point-and-click playground where kids can explore familiar scenes to uncover a range of activities, facts, and basic investigations on science topics. The program features 40 experiment ideas, five coloring books, and 20 different games, such as sorting exercises and jigsaw and picture puzzles. Each of the five colorful settings - a bedroom, a beach, a forest, a garden, and a veterinarian's office - feature appealing animal characters, lots of animations, and good audio support to draw in young kids.

The most solid science content of Ozzie's World is found in the components which give instructions for offline experiments. Sets of graphics, presented in slide form, clearly illustrate the step-by-step procedures for planting a forest in a bottle, making a pinwheel, simulating an oil spill, and other introductory experiments. And handy textual reprints of this information in the parent's/ teacher's guide make it easy for adults to support youngsters' efforts at experimentation.

Ozzie's World is an entertaining place to explore, and the well-designed games are sure to engage kids. …

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