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.
Seven-year-olds are endlessly curious; they ask lots of questions. A challenge for science development at this age is to try to refrain from giving answers to these questions too quickly, thus bringing closure to children's thinking. If adults or books are too ready with the answers, children are less likely to continue to build their skills of questioning and investigation because they become satisfied with having a store of information. While Information is indeed useful, "knowing" information is not the same as "understanding" it. By taking the time to investigate a question through first-hand experience, children build the skills of inquiry and develop an understanding of how science is practiced.
Continues to wonder about an increasing range of phenomena within the immediate environment. Asks questions like, "What will happen if...?" and thinks about how to test it out. Better distinguishes between questions that can be addressed by direct experimentation, such as, "What will happen if I leave a cup of water outside over night?" and those that cannot, such as, "Why does ice freeze when it is cold?" Shows improved ability to conduct experiments using a "fair test," or controlled experiment, where one factor is tested and all other conditions remain the same. Is increasingly more interested in phenomena outside of his or her direct experience (e.g., hurricanes, volcanoes, space travel). Benefits from more focused explorations (e.g., uses a dropper to see what water looks like and how it moves when drops are squeezed on to different surfaces).
Uses a wider selection of tools to gather information (e.g., thermometers, rulers, balances, measuring cups, clocks, hand lenses). Finds answers to questions by collecting data from a variety of sources (e.g., direct experiences, books, pictures, charts, videos, guest speakers, the Internet). Identifies similarities and differences with information found from more than one source. Can interpret information from simple diagrams, charts and graphs. Is able to take simple notes from relevant sources. Measures items using a standard ruler, rather than non-standard units such as paper clips, hands and pencils.
Records information through drawings and writing that are more developed. Writes reports that describe and explain topics, objects, events and experiences. With support, uses descriptive language to communicate details (e.g., observations) and varies the structure of sentences. Continues to improve organization of writing by grouping related ideas into simple paragraphs and maintaining a consistent focus. For example, when writing a report, will present ideas in chronological order or describe one topic (e.g., a butterfly's life cycle). Shows improved ability to collect and represent information in simple graphs, tables, maps and charts. Evaluates information in graphs to draw conclusions, show connections among ideas and answer questions.
"Shows increasing consistency in ability to support claims with evidence (e.g., says, "I think rubber balls are good bouncers because when we bounced them they bounced higher than the plastic ones."). Improves ability to construct reasonable explanations and draws conclusions using information and prior knowledge."
Shows improved ability to share information verbally and in writing, using increasingly richer language. States ideas as facts (e.g., says, "Rubber balls are good bouncers."), but can explain his or her thinking. Is able to talk about cause/effect relationships and form conclusions.
Shows improved ability to listen to and work with others. Is aware that in science it is helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others.
Develops a stronger awareness of how the quantity of something stays the same unless more is added or removed, even if its appearance changes (e.g., even though the shape of a piece of clay has changed, there is still the same amount of clay). Similarly, better understands that when a fixed amount of water or another liquid is poured from one container to another, there is still the same amount of that liquid.
"Continues to explore and control light sources and shadows to achieve specific effects. Investigates further the characteristics of sound and how such attributes can be modified. Increases understanding of how sounds are caused by vibrations."
"Recognizes that water changes back and forth between liquid and solid due to changes in temperature. Can state that water turns into a gas, and may know that this is called "evaporation," but has limited if any understanding of what this involves. Understands that though liquids can differ from one another, they all have certain characteristics (e.g., though corn syrup is thicker than water and flows slowly, both liquids flow and take the shape of their container)."
"Develops a greater understanding of how the movement of something can be changed by pushing and pulling (e.g., throwing a ball with more force will make it move faster). Explores further how things can balance (e.g., tries balancing a pencil or ruler on a finger and then adds weights such as paper clips or pieces of clay to see how changing the location of weights affects balance)."
Continues to build knowledge for how each animal and plant has particular structures that serve different functions necessary for growth, survival and reproduction. Recognizes that new plants can develop from bulbs and cuttings as well as from seeds.
Develops a greater understanding of what living things need in order to survive (e.g., observes or reads that Monarch butterflies require milkweed). Recognizes that plants and animals can depend on one another for survival (e.g., spiders need to live where there are insects or other food sources).
Can identify characteristics of living and nonliving objects.
Builds knowledge of how a living thing's habitat contains elements that help it survive (e.g., sees that ants live where they are near food, where they can dig tunnels and where they can hide from predators). Continues to observe that living things have specific traits or features that help them survive, particularly within their environments (e.g., recognizes that some insects have camouflage that matches what is found in their habitat).
Develops an increased awareness of the diversity and variation in plants and animals (e.g., body markings vary on different types of dolphins).
Learns more about how living thing goes through a cycle that includes birth, growth and development, procreation and death.
Increases knowledge of how various kinds of earth materials have different properties (e.g., rocks come in various shapes and sizes, some minerals are harder than others).
Recognizes that some aspects of the weather can be measured using certain tools (e.g., reads a thermometer, makes a rudimentary wind or rain gauge).
Continues to think more deeply about the patterns of the sun and moon (e.g., observes that the moon is not always in the same place).