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AAAS  :: Project 2061  :: Textbook Evaluations

Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

PRIME Science. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1998
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis
I. [Explanation] This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material attempts to make its purposes explicit and meaningful to students, either in the student text itself or through suggestions to the teacher. The sequence of lessons or activities is also important in accomplishing the stated purpose, since ideas often build on each other.
II. [Explanation] Fostering understanding in students requires taking time to attend to the ideas they already have, both ideas that are incorrect and ideas that can serve as a foundation for subsequent learning. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material contains specific suggestions for identifying and addressing students’ ideas.
III. [Explanation] Much of the point of science is to explain phenomena in terms of a small number of principles or ideas. For students to appreciate this explanatory power, they need to have a sense of the range of phenomena that science can explain. The criteria in this category examine whether the curriculum material relates important scientific ideas to a range of relevant phenomena and provides either firsthand experiences with the phenomena or a vicarious sense of phenomena that are not presented firsthand.
IV. [Explanation] Science literacy requires that students understand the link between scientific ideas and the phenomena that they can explain. Furthermore, students should see the ideas as useful and become skillful at applying them. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material expresses and develops the key ideas in ways that are accessible and intelligible to students, and that demonstrate the usefulness of the key ideas and provide practice in varied contexts.
V. [Explanation] Engaging students in experiences with phenomena (category III) and presenting them with scientific ideas (category IV) will not lead to effective learning unless students are given time, opportunities, and guidance to make sense of the experiences and ideas. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material provides students with opportunities to express, think about, and reshape their ideas, as well as guidance on developing an understanding of what they experience.
VI. [Explanation] This category consists of criteria for evaluating whether the curriculum material includes a variety of aligned assessments that apply the key ideas taught in the material.
VII. [Explanation] The criteria in this category provide analysts with the opportunity to comment on features that enhance the use and implementation of the curriculum material by all students.

I. Providing a Sense of Purpose

Conveying unit purpose (Rating = Poor)

The first page of every chapter in the PRIME Science textbook series consists of one or two paragraphs about the context for the chapter. In level C, Chapter 3: Gulp! the context is drinks. The paragraph about drinks ends with a rhetorical question: “Have you ever thought about what it is that all drinks have in common?” (p. 45s). Following this is a list of what students will explore further in the chapter and a list of the other topics to which they will be introduced. These lists are a confusing mix of empirical concepts (for example, “The elements sodium, chlorine, and fluorine,” “The difference between elements and compounds,” “The water cycle,” “Fermentation and alcoholic beverages”), theoretical concepts (for example, “The particles matter is made of”), and procedures (for example, “Ways of separating and purifying substances,” “How to determine whether water is pure,” “How to treat and use water from rivers,” “How to determine the differences between solids, liquids, and gases” [p. 45s]). The central purpose of this chapter is not presented clearly to students on this page. As a result, beyond the theme of “drinks,” there is no unity in the sequence of lessons in the chapter that would be evident to students. Moreover, the lists of concepts and procedures that students are told they will explore are not likely to be comprehensible to those students who are not already familiar with these topics, nor are they likely to be interesting to them. While the context of drinks is likely to be relevant to students, there is no attempt to make the purpose of the unit interesting or motivating to them. The rhetorical question (“Have you ever thought about what it is that all drinks have in common?”) and the activities that follow are not framed in ways to be motivating (level C, p. 45s). The overview of what students should learn in each lesson (level C, pp. 113–114t) shows that each lesson addresses one or more of the items on the disparate list of concepts, phenomena, and procedures that students are told on the first page of the chapter they will explore or to which they will be introduced. None of the chapters addresses explicitly the question of “what it is that all drinks have in common.”

Conveying lesson/activity purpose (Rating = Poor)

The Teacher’s Guide provides key points for the activities in the student textbook (such as discussions, demonstrations, and laboratory work). For example, the following key points are listed for laboratory work in which students examine what happens when drinks such as tea are made: “When substances dissolve in water, the flavor and color become spread throughout the water. The particles of dissolved solids are too small to be seen. Every drop of the solution contains some particles of the dissolved solid” (level C, p. 136t). However, teachers are not directed to make these key points known to students. The purposes of individual activities are not conveyed to students by the activity titles, which are not specific and do not give a sense of purpose about the activity (e.g., “What happens when you make tea?” [p. 56s] and “[b]ubbly drinks” [p. 57s]). The purpose of activities is communicated clearly to students only when they are to observe or learn a procedure. For example, the text at the top of the student work sheet introduces the importance of “chemically pure” or distilled water in the context of a steam iron. Then students are told: “You can make distilled water using the apparatus in the diagram below” (level C, p. 133t). This states clearly the purpose of the activity—to make distilled water—in a manner that is comprehensible to students. For the activities related to the small particle model, the purpose is never communicated clearly to students. Students are rarely required to think about the purpose of the activities, nor how the activities relate to the unit purpose.

Justifying lesson/activity sequence (Rating = Fair)

Although the Teacher’s Guide provides an overview of the lessons in level C, Chapter 3: Gulp! it does not state explicitly a rationale for the sequence of the lessons. A rationale can be inferred only for the first five lessons of the chapter. Beginning with the idea that all drinks have water as their base and highlighting the importance of water as an essential part of life (lesson 1), the chapter explores where water used for industrial processes and home consumption comes from (lesson 2). The chapter continues by discussing cleaning water and water purification (lesson 3). Then the materials take a more careful look at clean water versus pure water, examining dissolved substances in water and obtaining pure water by distillation (lesson 4). Then the question of whether or not fluoride should be added to the water supply is raised (lesson 5). Lesson 6 starts by having students experiment with ways of making drinks. Experiences in dissolving lead to a discussion of the particle nature of matter. Next, students are introduced to some of the commercial aspects of making, distributing, and marketing drinks. This is followed by an introduction to the process of fermentation and an investigation of the factors that affect it (lesson 7). The chapter ends with an examination of the properties of solids, liquids, and gases and provides an explanation of these properties using the kinetic molecular theory (lesson 8). Lesson 6 is a break in a sequence of activities that follow from the importance of water in lesson 1. There is no attempt to connect lesson 6 to the lessons that precede it. Lesson 7 (fermentation) interrupts a sequence of activities on the particle model of matter that starts in lesson 6 and continues in lesson 8.

II. Taking Account of Student Ideas

Attending to prerequisite knowledge and skills (Rating = Fair)

The Background section in each chapter of PRIME Science gives some indication of the chapters in which prerequisite experiences and topics may have been addressed. However, specific prerequisite ideas or skills are rarely identified, and the specific activities in which they have been addressed are not named.

PRIME Science provides many prerequisite experiences to the key physical science ideas in the chapters where these key ideas are developed and in earlier chapters. For example, comparisons of the behavior of collections of objects with the behavior of the individual object can help students make sense of the idea that properties of substances can be due to the arrangement and motion of a collection of tiny, seemingly invisible particles. Specifically, it may be helpful to have students first observe and describe the behavior of large collection of pieces and consider that the collections may have new properties that the individual pieces do not have (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993, p. 76). PRIME Science offers a similar experience with fabrics. In level B, Chapter 9: Wear and Tear, students first explore the idea that some properties of fabrics (like the ease of pulling them out of shape) depend more on the arrangement of their threads—felted, loosely or closely woven, or knitted—than on the properties of the threads themselves (p. 184s). Then they are to examine the properties of threads to determine that some properties of threads can be explained by the properties and arrangement of their fibers (level B, p. 185s). Finally, the properties of fibers are related to the properties of tiny particles (polymers) that cannot be seen.

However, the prerequisite ideas are not identified as such in the Teacher’s Guide. Furthermore, rarely are there connections between the key ideas and the prerequisites. A case in point is the previous example. Although students have an experience with a prerequisite idea, teachers are not alerted to the fact that this activity addresses the prerequisite idea nor are they told to relate this activity to the later lessons that address the kinetic molecular theory.

Alerting teachers to commonly held student ideas (Rating = Poor)

PRIME Science does not describe for the teacher’s benefit any of the students’ commonly held ideas related to the kinetic molecular theory that have been documented in research studies. For example, research on student understanding of the structure of matter reveals that many students think that particles (atoms or molecules) are in substances and/or that there is something (e.g., air) between the particles, rather than that substances consist of nothing except molecules with empty spaces between them (Brook, Briggs, & Driver, 1984; Nussbaum, 1985). Research also reveals that students are often confused between the observable properties of substances and the properties of molecules themselves. For example, students may think that molecules themselves become hot or cold, or that molecules themselves expand, causing substances to expand (Johnston & Driver, 1989; Lee, Eichinger, Anderson, Berkheimer, & Blakeslee., 1993). Teachers are not alerted to these beliefs that many students have.

Assisting teachers in identifying their students’ ideas (Rating = Poor)

Students are rarely given tasks or asked questions that would reveal their prior understanding of the key ideas before these ideas are introduced. Students are never asked to make predictions and are seldom asked to give explanations before or after relevant activities. The Teacher’s Guide states only what ideas should come out of “the discussion.” It does not suggest that teachers use such discussions to probe their students’ thinking on the issues.

Addressing commonly held ideas (Rating = Poor)

PRIME Science makes no attempt to challenge commonly held student ideas and does not include any questions or activities that would help students with their difficulties. Given the extensive, well-documented commonly held ideas about the nature of matter and the kinetic molecular theory, this is a serious flaw.

III. Engaging Students with Relevant Phenomena

Providing variety of phenomena (Rating = Satisfactory)

Overall, there are a satisfactory number and variety of phenomena that support the key ideas in PRIME Science. There are numerous and various phenomena for the idea that relates to the different arrangement and motion of particles in solids, liquids, and gases (Idea e). For example, students investigate substances (such as water, paraffin, wood, and air) to compare their density, “squashability,” and “movement through solids, liquids and gases” (level C, p. 147t and student sheet 8a, p. 149t). There are several relevant phenomena that support the idea that increased temperature means increased molecular motion (Idea f), but most of them relate to the expansion of gases (level 1, p. 313s). There are no phenomena that support the idea that all matter is made of particles (Idea a), and only a small number of phenomena are related to the motion of particles (Idea c).

Providing vivid experiences (Rating = Very good)

Most of the phenomena in the PRIME Science materials are presented to students as hands-on activities. There is an optimal number of first-hand experiences related to the kinetic molecular theory; they are typically simple and of short duration.

IV. Developing and Using Scientific Ideas

Introducing terms meaningfully (Rating = Very good)

Technical terms and their meanings are integrated in PRIME Science and are not listed in either the Teacher’s Guide or the student text as definitions to be learned. Moreover, technical terms usually are linked to relevant experiences. An exception is the introduction and use of the term “particle.” PRIME Science does not link the introduction of the term “particle” to appropriate experiences with the particulate nature of matter, nor does it define the term for students. The use of technical terms is restricted to those needed to communicate intelligibly about the key ideas. For example, PRIME Science avoids technical terms in an activity that has students move through stations where they explore the differences in density, “squashability,” and ease of “movement through solids, liquids, and gases” (level C, p. 147t and student sheet 8a, p. 149t). Students are encouraged to use their own words to describe the properties of matter, and the technical terms “compressibility” and “viscosity” are not introduced or used, because they would not contribute to students’ learning of the particle model of matter.

Representing ideas effectively (Rating = Poor)

In PRIME Science there are several diagrams that represent the key physical science ideas. As in other middle school curriculum materials, there is a deficiency in representing dynamic processes with static diagrams, such as representations of the motion of molecules. More importantly, PRIME Science includes representations that are inaccurate and misleading. For example, one diagram shows solid, liquid, and gas particles in blue backgrounds, indicating that the particles are contained in the solid, liquid and gas, rather than the correct idea that substances consist of particles (with empty space between particles) (level C, p. 63s). This misrepresentation—enhanced by these labels on the diagram: “solid particles in solid water (ice),” “water particles in liquid water,” and “water particles in gaseous water” (emphasis added)—is likely to reinforce the common student misconception that there are molecules in substances rather than that substances are made of molecules (Lee et al., 1993). Likewise, another diagram on the same page shows some lines to indicate motion only for the particles of liquid and gas. This may also reinforce students’ commonly held misconception that molecules in solids, such as ice, are not moving (Lee et al., 1993). Similar misrepresentations appear throughout the relevant chapters.

Demonstrating use of knowledge (Rating = Poor)

There are no demonstrations of using the kinetic molecular theory to explain phenomena in the middle grades materials (levels A, B, and C). In level 1, there are some explanations of phenomena using the key physical science ideas, but they are not identified as demonstrating the use of these ideas to give explanations (e.g., accounts of the properties of wood, fired clay, and plastics in level 1, pp. 34s, 39s, 42s). In some instances, there is an explanation of a type of phenomenon (e.g., pressure in a gas increases as the temperature increases), but it is not related to the explanation of a specific phenomenon (e.g., the pressure in a bicycle tire increases as the temperature increases); hence, it does not demonstrate the use of knowledge (see level 1, p. 320s).

Providing practice (Rating = Fair)

PRIME Science is inconsistent in the number and variety of opportunities provided for students to practice using the key physical science ideas. There are no questions or tasks that ask students to apply the idea that all matter is made of particles (Idea a), that particles are extremely small (Idea b), or that they are in perpetual motion (Idea c). On the other hand, there are many varied tasks for students to practice the idea that increased temperature means increased molecular motion in the context of gases (part of Idea d). For instance, students are asked to explain why a dented ping-pong ball can be fixed sometimes by putting it into a pan of hot water, why a sponge cake looks smaller after it has been out of the oven for a while, and why it is dangerous to throw an aerosol can into the fire even if it is empty (level 1, p. 330s, question 6). However, overall, having students practice using the key ideas is not a main focus. For example, after students are introduced to the kinetic molecular theory, the Teacher’s Guide suggests that they could be asked to use the theory to explain phenomena they have encountered before (such as the dissolution of tea in water or the dilution of a concentrated drink [level C, chapter 3, p. 148t]). The time allocated for students to read about the kinetic molecular theory, observe some relevant demonstrations, and practice their new knowledge by explaining phenomena is only 25 minutes. Given the optional nature of the assignment and the unrealistically small amount of time allotted to it, it is not likely that students will be given the opportunity to apply the newly taught ideas. Even if they are, no provisions are made for them to receive feedback on their responses, and the Teacher’s Guide does not even give recommended answers to all of the questions.

V. Promoting Students' Thinking about Phenomena, Experiences, and Knowledge

Encouraging students to explain their ideas (Rating = Poor)

The student text rarely includes questions that encourage students to express their own thoughts about the key ideas. In a few cases, the Teacher’s Guide suggests that the teacher should lead a discussion concerning an activity or (less often) that students should discuss an activity in small groups. There are no opportunities for students to express their own ideas associated with the kinetic molecular theory in writing, although they are sometimes asked to write down notes (observations) from experiments and make tables to summarize their findings related to other ideas. Students are never asked to clarify, justify, or represent their ideas. No suggestions are made for when and how they will get feedback about their thinking from their peers and the teacher.

Guiding student interpretation and reasoning (Rating = Poor)

In the middle grades materials, typically, a general question is posed at the end of an activity in the student text about what the activity showed or what conclusions might be drawn from it. The questions are not specific enough to help students connect what they observe to the ideas that the lesson is trying to develop or to their own ideas. For example, students are asked to put a tea bag with tea in it into water and observe what happens (level C, p. 56s). They tear open a tea bag and examine with a microscope the paper from which it is made. A single question is asked (“What does this suggest to you about the bits of tea that spread out in the water?”) to guide student interpretation of the activity. The question is too general to help students connect what they observe to the idea that the activity is trying to develop that the particles of dissolved solids are too small to be seen.

In several instances, the middle grades materials require students to make big leaps from observations to inferences. For example, students do some activities that show that a solid residue (calcium carbonate) is left when tap water evaporates (level C, p. 53s). The Teacher’s Guide suggests that, “[i]n discussion of the results the students can see that the solid residue must have come from the water, which had tiny particles of the dissolved substance spread out through it” (emphasis added) (level C, p. 130t). This is the introduction to the notion of tiny particles in this chapter. Not only is this too big a leap from observation to inference, but also there are no questions that engage students in considering this phenomenon using the particle theory in the student book.

In some instances, the high school materials include relevant questions to help students make sense of readings and activities about the kinetic molecular theory (e.g., level 1, p. 316s). However, in other instances, they do not (e.g., Getting an airing, in level 1, p. 320s).

Encouraging students to think about what they have learned (Rating = Poor)

There is only one vague suggestion in the Teacher’s Guide for students to monitor their progress by discussing their results of a laboratory experiment in relation to their “original” ideas about particles. After students devise a way of extracting flavor from licorice root, the teacher is instructed to “prompt students to discuss their results in relation to their original ideas about particles. Thus many of the ideas that are introduced in this chapter are brought together and revised” (emphasis added) (level C, p. 139t). This suggestion comes before students have been introduced formally to the small particle theory. Moreover, the instructions for this laboratory activity in the student book do not prompt students to express their original ideas about particles.

VI. Assessing Progress

Aligning assessment to goals (Rating = Poor)

For the end-of-instruction assessment, the material provides Sample Assessment Items for each chapter and, in addition, identifies the Things To Do questions as assessment (all levels, p. 6t). For the first two assessment criteria, four chapters have been examined: level B, Chapter 9: Wear and Tear; level C, Chapter 3: Gulp!; and level 1, Chapter 2: Construction Materials, and Chapter 11: The Atmosphere.

Most of the key physical science ideas are not adequately assessed in PRIME Science.
For the idea that all matter is made up of particles called atoms and molecules (Idea a), students explain (in terms of small particles) how milk mixes with coffee (level C, p. 153t, Sample Assessment Items, item 4c). For the idea that atoms and molecules are perpetually in motion (Idea c), students explain (in term of particles) how one can smell coffee some distance away (level C, p. 153t, Sample Assessment Items, item 4a). For the explanation of dissolving (part of Idea f), students explain at the molecular level how solid sugar “disappears” into coffee (level C, p. 153t, Sample Assessment Items, item 4b). Two items are included to assess students on changes of state and the different arrangement and motion of particles in solids, liquids, and gases. Students imagine that they and their friends are “a group of water particles in a block of ice that is floating south along the east coast of America” and write a story about what happens to them over a period of one year using what they know about particles in solids, liquids, and gases (level C, p. 65s, Things To Do, item 4). For the idea that increased temperature means greater molecular motion, so that most materials expand when heated (Idea d), students explain why bubbles come out of an empty dishwashing liquid bottle held upside down in hot water (level 1, p. 330s, Things To Do, item 1). In addition, students explain the following phenomena in terms of what they know about gas particles: “[a] dented ping-pong ball can sometimes be fixed by putting it into a pan of hot water”; a sponge cake “shrinks” a bit after it cools; “[i]t is very dangerous to throw an aerosol can onto a fire”; and a bicycle tire takes in air in a volume that is larger than the inner tube to become hard (level 1, p. 330s, Things To Do, item 6). No other tasks are provided to assess students on the key physical science ideas.

Testing for understanding (Rating = Poor)

While all relevant assessments described under the previous criterion require application of the key ideas, they are insufficient.

Using assessment to inform instruction (Rating = Poor)

Assessment aimed at determining the progress of student learning and modifying instruction accordingly is not a feature of PRIME Science. To keep track of students’ progress, the Teacher’s Guide suggests that discussions, students’ work sheets, and all other questions in the chapters could be used (all levels, p. 6t). However, the material does not provide sufficient questions or tasks that can be used, even by a well-informed teacher, to diagnose students’ remaining difficulties with respect to the ideas examined (See the criteria above entitled “Providing practice” and “Encouraging students to explain their ideas”). Furthermore, for the relevant questions that are included, PRIME Science does not include suggestions for teachers about how to probe beyond students’ initial responses, nor does it include specific suggestions about how to use students’ responses to make decisions about instruction.

VII. Enhancing the Science Learning Environment

Providing teacher content support (Minimal support is provided.)

The material provides minimal support in alerting teachers to how ideas have been simplified for students to comprehend and what the more sophisticated versions are. Content background notes in the Teacher’s Guide usually summarize student activities for each chapter and lesson (e.g., level 1, p. 727t, Background), state main ideas for each lesson (e.g., level C, p. 140t, Outline of Activities, Key Points), and offer brief elaborations of student text concepts (e.g., level 1, p. 105t, For your information). Overall, the teacher content support is broad but not sufficiently detailed.

The material rarely provides sufficiently detailed answers to questions in the student text for teachers to understand and interpret various student responses. Most answers are brief and require further explanation (e.g., “There should be explanations of the differing properties of the states of matter and the processes involved in changes of state and the formation of solutions” [level C, p. 151t, Answers to Things To Do, item 4]). Some questions go unanswered (e.g., level 1, p. 764t, Answers to Things To Do, items 1–5 and 7).

The material provides minimal support in recommending resources for improving the teacher’s understanding of key ideas. The introductory notes of the Teacher’s Guide include a list of “Optional Resources” (printed matter, video, computers, and resource centers [e.g., level C, pp. 29–34t]), and additional “Optional Resources” are listed at the beginning of each chapter (e.g., “The World of Chemistry: Acids and Bases, Periodic Table, Oxidation Reduction of Metals. American Chemical Society” [level 1, Videos, p. 94t]). Limited descriptions for some of the references identify topics addressed, but few of the references are explicitly linked to specific text sections or key ideas.

Encouraging curiosity and questioning (Some support is provided.)

The material provides a general suggestion for how to encourage students’ questions but not guide their search for answers. Introductory notes in the student text state, “Ask questions of yourself and of those around you” (level C, p. xiiis).

The material provides many suggestions for how to respect and value students’ ideas. Introductory notes in the student text generally elicit and value students’ ideas by stating, “Write your thoughts down to see how they sound, and take a moment from time to time to see if you have changed your ideas or have more evidence that your thoughts were right in the first place” (level 1, p. xvis). Also, teacher’s notes state that multiple student answers should be acceptable for some questions (e.g., level A, p. 74t, Answers to Student Book Page 23, item 3) and ask students to record their own ideas in many tasks (e.g., level C, p. 150t, Time to think again). In addition, students and their ideas are highlighted throughout the text. For example, drawings of students with dialogue balloons illustrate students discussing scientific ideas to be studied (e.g., level C, pp. 62–63s), and students are specifically referenced in some tasks (e.g., level A, p. 18s, Testing the idea).

The material provides a few suggestions for how to raise questions such as “How do we know? What is the evidence?” and “Are there alternative explanations or other ways of solving the problem that could be better?” It also encourages students to pose such questions themselves. Introductory notes in the student text ask students to review their ideas periodically and determine if they have more evidence that their “thoughts were right in the first place” (level C, p. xiiis). In addition, the material includes a few tasks that ask students to provide evidence or reasons in their responses (e.g., level C, p. 56s, What happens when you make tea? bullet 3; level C, p. 150t, student sheet 8a).

The material provides some suggestions for how to avoid dogmatism. Introductory teacher’s notes emphasize the human focus of the material, stating that ideas are “introduced through personal and social contexts” (e.g., level B, p. 1t), and introductory student notes emphasize the use of multiple resources to increase student understanding (e.g., level C, p. xiiis). The student text portrays the nature of science as a human enterprise in which students may participate (e.g., level A, pp. 28–29s, Expansion and contraction). Student dialogues throughout the material often present multiple perspectives on a scientific issue (e.g., level A, p. 22s, Getting hotter?). However, the material also contributes to dogmatism by giving little attention to the work of particular practicing scientists and changes over time in scientific thinking. In addition, single specific responses are expected for most student tasks.

The material does not provide examples of classroom interactions (e.g., dialogue boxes, vignettes, or video clips) that illustrate appropriate ways to respond to student questions or ideas. However, a limited sense of desirable student-student interactions may be gained from procedural directions for laboratories and cooperative group activities (e.g., level C, p. 137t, Lab work 1; level C, pp. 58–59s, Licoriceade: a new product, pp. 138–139t, Text application/Design/Lab work 4).

Supporting all students (Some support is provided.)

The material generally avoids stereotypes or language that might be offensive to a particular group. Most of the drawings in the student text are of 15 recurring students, girls and boys, of various cultural backgrounds (e.g., level A, pp. 5–7s). Photographs also include a diverse cultural mix of students and adults (e.g., level A, pp. 22–23s; level B, p. 177s; level C, p. 61s). In addition, the material’s use of narrative dialogues (e.g., level A, p. 10s, Making gelatin), along with traditional expository text, may support the language use of particular student groups.

The material does not provide illustrations of the contributions of women and minorities to science and as role models. Few contributions of any scientists are included, in that the material instead emphasizes the role of science in students’ everyday lives.

The material suggests multiple formats for students to express their ideas during instruction, including individual investigations (e.g., level 1, p. 330s, Things To Do, item 1), cooperative group activities (e.g., level C, p. 147t, Classifying data), laboratory investigations (e.g., level C, p. 57s), whole class discussions (e.g., level 1, p. 99t, Discussion 2), essay questions (e.g., level 1, p. 316s, item 1), creative writing (e.g., level C, p. 65s, Things To Do, item 4), and visual projects (e.g., level B, p. 351t, Modeling). In addition, multiple formats are suggested for assessment, including oral discussion (e.g., level B, p. 351t, Discussion), essay (e.g., level 1, p. 330s, Things To Do, item 7), and performance (e.g., level 1, p. 330s, Things To Do, item 2). However, the material does not usually provide a variety of alternatives for the same task.

The material does not routinely include specific suggestions about how teachers can modify activities for students with special needs.

The material provides many strategies to validate students’ relevant personal and social experiences with scientific ideas. Introductory teacher’s notes emphasize the material’s focus on “personal and social contexts” and the “applications of science” (level B, p. 1t). Many text sections relate specific personal experiences students may have had to the presented scientific concepts (e.g., level C, p. 45s). In addition, some tasks ask students about particular personal experiences they may have had or suggest specific experiences to have. For example, a question following text examples of a glass bottle and metal strips on a bridge asks students to give their own “examples of solid materials that contract and expand” (level A, p. 28s, What is happening?, item 2). However, the material rarely encourages students to contribute relevant experiences of their own choice to the science classroom and sometimes does not adequately link the specified personal experiences to the scientific ideas being studied (e.g., level A, p. 54s, Things To Do, item 4).