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Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

Science 2000. Decision Development Corporation, 1991 and 1995
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis

Science 2000 is a technology-based science program that distributes physical, Earth, and life science topics across theme-based units. The program is intended for grades six through eight (with one unit for grade five). It includes software, laser videodiscs, and manuals for teachers, but does not include a student textbook.

The program has been evaluated in terms of how well its content matches each of three topic-specific sets of key science ideas, and how well it provides effective instructional material in terms of a set of universal criteria for the teaching of science ideas. This report on Science 2000 assesses the program’s physical science component.

The physical science idea set focuses on the particulate nature of matter and the kinetic molecular theory. In Science 2000, the material relating to these key ideas is to be found in five clusters in grades five through eight (clusters are subsections within units). A lesson in grade five briefly presents the changes of state in water and their explanation at the molecular level. In grade six the idea that all matter is composed of small building blocks called atoms is introduced in the context of studying building materials and their properties. In the context of examining how cooking affects the substances in food, a different unit in grade six has students explore changes of state and what happens to the molecules of heated substances. In grade seven the kinetic molecular theory is used to explain the behavior of gases in lessons about how a small bicycle tire can support the rider’s weight. In grade eight, while students learn about radioactivity, the idea that all matter is made of atoms is briefly mentioned again.

The titles of the clusters and lessons that address the key physical science ideas are listed below by grade and unit:

Grade 5
Unit 1
  Cluster 1: What is water and where do we find it on the Earth? What are the oceans? How will we get to North America?
    Lesson 2: How can we describe water? What are some of its properties?
Grade 6
Unit 3
  Cluster 21: How can you assess the properties of building materials? How building materials be combined and shaped to withstand forces?
    Lesson 1: What are some basic types of building materials? What are their properties, and what are they composed of?
Unit 4    
  Cluster 28: How does cooking or heating affect the substances in food? What happens to foods when we cook or heat them?
    Lesson 1: How do temperature changes affect the substances in foods? How do foods change when they are cooked or refrigerated?
    Lesson 2: Why do we use different cooking methods to prepare different foods? Which cooking methods work best for different foods?
Grade 7
Unit 3
  Cluster 20: How can a small bicycle tire support my weight?
    Lesson 1: What is a gas? What is air pressure? How can we increase the inside pressure of an enclosed gas?
    Lesson 2: What is atmospheric pressure? What is the relationship between inside and outside pressure?
    Lesson 3: How does temperature affect an enclosed gas?
Grade 8
Unit 4
  Cluster 22: What is radioactivity? How does radiation affect living tissue? What does history tell us about the dangers of radioactive materials?
    Lesson 1: What is radioactivity? What can we learn about radioactivity from history?

The other two sections of this report—the Content Analysis and the Instructional Analysis—summarize the results of the evaluation of Science 2000’s physical science content and instructional efficacy.

In both sections, within-the-text references to the evaluated materials are given as a basic sequence of four numbers separated by periods. It is a top-down sequence that identifies, in order, the grade, unit, cluster, and lesson. The lesson in the last entry quoted above, for example, is “” In some cases, more than one lesson is cited, as in the two preceding entries above (“–3” and “, 3”). And in some cases, the basic sequence is extended to include lesson subunits, set off by a comma. Such subunits consist of either a lesson plan (LP) or student investigation (SI). Lesson plans are designated “LP1,” “LP2,” etc. Student investigations are designated by both cluster and lesson number (following usage in Science 2000), as, for example, “SI21–1–A.”

The reference works cited in this report are given as complete citations in the References list, along with those cited in other reports in this document. The References list can be accessed by clicking on the link at the beginning of each content and instructional analysis. To view a specific research reference while reading the content and instructional analyses, simply click on the in-text citation.

The key science ideas and the instructional analysis categories are presented and discussed under Project 2061 Analysis Procedure on the main menu.