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.
Wonders about a range of phenomena within the immediate environment. Shows a willingness to investigate by asking questions like, "What will happen if...?" Begins to distinguish 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 increasing ability to investigate using a "fair test," or controlled experiment, where one factor is tested and all other conditions remain the same (e.g., when comparing two different balls rolling down ramps, the child recognizes that the "fair test" is compromised and says, "But he pushed the ball hard and I just let mine go!"). Benefits from more open-ended explorations (e.g., plays informally with different containers and objects in water to learn about water's properties).
Can use different kinds of tools to gather information (e.g., thermometers, measuring cups, hand lenses). Answers questions by gathering data from pictures, texts, people and direct experiences. Measures things using non-standard units such as paper clips, hands and pencils.
Records information through drawings and some writing. Most children are able to develop an idea beyond a sentence, and will add some details to help describe or explain things in their world. With support, can write brief reports or informational pieces that describe or explain familiar objects, events and experiences. Can collect and represent some information in simple graphs. Begins to use information in graphs to draw conclusions and answer questions.
"Shows ability, though not consistently, 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."). Constructs reasonable explanations and draws conclusions."
Can share observations, verbally and in writing, with increasing detail. Makes rudimentary claims (e.g., says, "Rubber balls are good bouncers."). Is able to represent experiences with drawing, simple writing and other forms of representation.
Shows ability to listen to and work with others. Is becoming aware that in science it is helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others.
Begins to recognize that 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, begins to understand 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.
"Explores and controls light sources and shadows. Experiments with the characteristics of sound and identifies cause/effect relationships (e.g., sees how changing the tension of a string on a guitar can affect its pitch). Begins to understand that sounds are caused by vibrations."
"Begins to recognize that water changes back and forth between liquid and solid due to changes in temperature. May be able to state that water turns into a gas, but has limited if any understanding of why this happens. Is starting to understand that though liquids can differ from one another, they all have certain characteristics (e.g., corn syrup is thicker than water and flows slowly, but both liquids flow and take the shape of their container)."
"Begins to recognize that how something moves can be changed by pushing and pulling (e.g., plays with spinning tops). Explores how things can balance (e.g., tries balancing a pencil or ruler on a finger)."
Builds knowledge for how each animal and plant has particular structures that serve different functions necessary for growth, survival and reproduction.
Recognizes that a living thing has needs and that those needs must be met if the living thing is to survive (e.g., family pet must receive regular food and water). Realizes that plants and animals can depend on one another for survival (e.g., bees collect nectar from flowers to make honey).
Can group and compare living and nonliving objects.
Begins to understand that 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). Recognizes that living things have specific traits or features that contribute to their survival, particularly within their environments (e.g., observes that some insects have camouflage that matches what is found in their habitat).
Sees more diversity and variation in plants and animals (e.g., tomatoes come in different shapes and sizes).
Begins to recognize that each living thing goes through a cycle that includes birth, growth and development, procreation and death.
Recognizes that various kinds of earth materials have different properties (e.g., soil can hold water better than sand can).
Begins to recognize that some aspects of the weather can be measured using certain tools (e.g., reads a thermometer).
Thinks more deeply about the patterns of the sun and moon (e.g., notices that the sun is only out during the day while sometimes you can see the moon during the day, sometimes at night).