The Hilliard City Schools Board of Education approved the current kindergarten through fifth-grade science course of study on May 11, 2004. The science curriculum is based upon Ohio’s Academic Content Standards for science and is designed around six standards. The first three might be thought of as “content standards,” whereas the final three are more “process-oriented:”
- Earth and Space Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Physical Sciences
- Science and Technology
- Scientific Inquiry
- Scientific Ways of Knowing
The science curriculum is designed around the philosophy that students become scientifically literate by seeking to understand essential concepts, knowledge, and skills through active processes that maintain high expectations.
We believe that science instruction should help students:
- make connections between physical, life and Earth and space sciences
- learn about the historical development of scientific knowledge and its impact on the principles of science
- develop awareness of the role of science and its global implications for society
- become informed citizens, capable of making generalizations and decisions while recognizing the limitations and possibilities of science
- develop scientific habits of mind as they use the processes of scientific inquiry, including:
- value continued learning.
Over the course of their K-5 experiences, students have repeated exposure and experiences with each of the six academic content standards for science. Units of study are developed for Earth and Space, Life, and Physical Science at each grade level. The “process” standards are integrated into the three “content” standards units.
Teachers are provided with physical resources, both consumable and non-consumable, which support learning activities that target specific grade level indicators. Consumable materials are replenished each year so that students and teachers continue to offer the high-interest, active learning activities which build toward understanding of the standards.
Habitat studies are featured at each grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade. They are year-long studies meant to be a unifying structure through which students make discoveries in Earth and Space, Life and Physical Science. The habitat studies also provide opportunities to integrate the additional standards of Science and Technology, Scientific Inquiry, and Scientific Ways of Knowing. The habitat studies are not designed as separate additional units.
Beginning with “Our Back Yard,” the habitat studies follow an “expanding horizons” succession whereby students study that which is near and familiar and eventually expand to more distant, and therefore abstract, habitats of the world.
The power of the habitat studies, and their uniqueness in a course of study, are the connections that students construct when they encounter scientific concepts, which remain constant regardless of location. Life cycles, for example, are not unique to frogs in a pond, but exist for any organism in any habitat. The interdependence of life is no more important in the ocean than in one’s own backyard. The structure and characteristics of plants and animals in the forest, for example, vary widely, but all plants and animals have structure and characteristics; the degree to which they vary may be far greater across different habitats.
These types of similarities and differences continue within concepts such as diversity of life, heredity, basic needs, change caused by animals and plants, and the flow of matter and energy. By making discoveries in many contexts, students understand that ideas they study are not isolated scientific facts and knowledge but are rather unifying concepts of the living environment, which have relevance on a global scale.