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Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

SciencePlus: Technology and Society. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1997
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis

SciencePlus: Technology and Society is a science program that distributes physical, Earth, and life science topics across the middle grades over three grade levels. The three levels—labeled “Green,” “Red,” and “Blue”—correspond to grades six, seven, and eight, respectively.

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 SciencePlus assesses the program’s life science component.

The life science idea set focuses on the transformations of matter and energy in living systems, including organisms and ecosystems. Most of these key ideas are covered in the SciencePlus program, although some of them are presented only in part or given little attention. In grade six (Level Green), Unit 6: Energy and You presents the concept of energy transformations by explaining the transformation of chemical energy in food to other forms of energy. In grade seven (Level Red), Unit 1: Interactions introduces the process of photosynthesis and the idea that living things get their energy from the sun ultimately, and then discusses the roles of different organisms in the food web in terms of energy. That grade’s Unit 8: Growing Plants also mentions photosynthesis, and involves students observing different leaves under a microscope. A more substantial treatment of photosynthesis and respiration is provided in grade eight (Level Blue), Unit 1: Life Processes.

The other two sections of this report—the Content Analysis and the Instructional Analysis—summarize the results of the evaluation of the life science content and instructional efficacy of SciencePlus.

In both sections, within-the-text page references to the evaluated materials have been clarified by the use of letter suffixes: “s” denotes the student text (as in “p. 18s”), and “t” denotes the Annotated Teacher’s Edition (as in “p. 18t”). Where “T” appears as part of a page reference (as in “p. T27”), it denotes a page number in the Teacher’s Guide within the Annotated Teacher’s Edition. Where “A,” “B,” or “C” appears as part of a page reference (as in “p. 2A”), it denotes a page number as given in the evaluated materials.

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.