The overall goals of children's development in science are to deepen their conceptual understandings of the world around them, to increase their comprehension of how science is practiced and to develop their abilities to conduct scientific investigations. Adults can help children achieve these goals with a supportive environment.
Five-year-olds really want to know more about how the world works. Hands-on experiences help them to form theories to explain "how" and "why" things happen. They can use tools like thermometers and scales to gather information and are able to more independently carry out simple investigations. Five-year-olds also use increasingly descriptive language to relay information, ask questions and provide explanations.
Can find answers to questions by designing and carrying out simple investigations that apply learning from past experiences (e.g., at school, makes a plan to move water up from a bucket on the floor to a water table after a period of exploring water movement with tubes, funnels and cups).
Understands that one can find out about a group of things by studying just a few of them. Is able to use standardized tools (e.g., thermometers, scale) to gather information.
Improves ability to independently collect and record information through charts, drawings, graphs, etc.
Forms theories about "why" and "how" based on direct experience. Compares data from several sources (e.g., a book in which a boat sinks, observations of sinking and floating from experiences in the bath tub at home and at the water table at school) to form reasonable conclusions.
Uses increasingly descriptive language to relay information, ask questions, and provide explanations.
Is able to plan, carry out and discuss findings of simple cooperative investigations (e.g., works in a group to figure out which objects will travel down an incline faster, tries out the group's ideas using a stop watch, and records the seconds it takes each object to reach the bottom of the incline).
Knows that some things can be done to materials to change some of their properties (e.g., heating, freezing, mixing, bending), but not all materials respond in the same way.
Begins to explore the sources and properties of sound and light (e.g., tries to identify the source of a sound in the neighborhood or what illuminates an area of the classroom). Experiments with modifying light by changing the location of its source.
Increases understanding of water and its properties through personal experiences (e.g., causing variation in water movement, observing the size and shape of drops, recognizing the characteristics of objects that sink and float). Knows that water can change from a liquid to a solid and vice versa.
Draws on multiple personal experiences to form ideas about position and motion.
Can understand ideas of form and function in living things (e.g., the role of the roots on a plant). Is just beginning to understand the inner human body (e.g., my heart beats faster when I run, my brain is for thinking, muscles help me throw the ball). Knows that plants and animals closely resemble their parents.
Understands variations in how plants and animals get their basic needs met. Has some understanding of human needs from the environment (e.g., food, air, water).
Is able to differentiate between things that are "living" and things that are "nonliving."
Can apply his or her understanding of the needs of living things to planning an indoor environment for plants or animals brought in from outside.
Recognizes diversity and variation in plants and animals, such as leaves have different shapes on different plants or all leaves on one plant are not the exact same color, shape or size.
Can describe the life cycle of a plant or an animal, drawing on observations of the changes it goes through. Has some understanding of the human life cycle as it relates to members of his or her family.
Can understand that rocks come in many different shapes and sizes (e.g., boulder, pebble, sand, soil).
Knows that weather conditions can change daily, and that weather patterns change with the seasons.
Knows basic patterns of the sun and the moon through observation.