Science Companion Story
Developing the Curriculum
Thirteen years ago, Max and Jean Bell served as founding contributors to the reform mathematics curriculum, Everyday Mathematics, developed in conjunction with the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project.
The Bells then chose to use their experience and resources to create the science curriculum that they had always wanted to integrate with math. (No retirement relaxation here!)
They formed the Chicago Science Group (CSG) to bring great inquiry-based science to young children around the country. CSG is made up of a diverse set of individuals, including prominent educators, scientists, experienced teachers, successful authors, and publishing experts.
After several years of research, writing, and extensive field testing, it was time to bring Science Companion commercially out to classrooms. Chicago Educational Publishing Company (CEPC) was born to launch Science Companion to market.
From 2004 to 2007, Science Companion was distributed exclusively by one of the world’s leading elementary publisher, Pearson Scott Foresman, and with their help the curriculum was extended into classrooms around the country.
In 2008, CEPC resumed distributorship of Science Companion so we could ensure that we were working as closely as possible with our educational partners.
The Science Companion curriculum, developed by the Chicago Science Group (CSG) is a hands-on learning program that takes advantage of children’s extensive knowledge of – and curiosity about – how things work in the world. The purpose of the curriculum is not only to provide children with the opportunity to wonder about their world, but to teach them science processes as they explore, quantify, and interpret the world. The children are also given the time and encouragement to draw, write, discuss, and reflect upon what they have done. The program’s approach to primary education balances discovery-based learning with teacher-directed instruction.
Science hasn’t thrived in the elementary classrooms for multiple reasons. The following represent a couple of these issues and how our curriculum solves them:
- The main focus of most elementary classrooms is language arts and mathematics, and teachers find their days full enough without the addition of a regular science time.In addressing the issue of making time for science, the approach of the Science Companion curriculum is to treat science not as a separate, discrete subject, but to use it to support other learning. Mathematics and language arts are essential tools in “doing science.” Science provides the opportunity to apply and practice mathematics, language arts, social studies, art, and group cooperation in an authentic context.
- Many teachers feel that they lack the expertise needed to teach science.In an effort to provide teachers who don’t have science backgrounds with the information they need to teach confidently and accurately, the Science Companion curriculum includes “Teacher Background Information” for every unit. This information covers the major concepts that the lessons introduce, giving extra information that’s not in the lessons so teachers can answer children’s questions.It also gives teachers a heads-up for what the children will probably find once they observe closely. Our hope is that teachers will learn along with the children, and feel comfortable with the process of exploration. In addition, we provide “Best Practice” ideas for how to pursue science, and a discussion area on this website where teachers can share concerns and solutions.
Call to Action
We believe that the very best education happens when curriculum developers, teachers, and parents all work together in partnership to shape children’s learning experiences. We continue to stay in close contact with our colleagues in the classroom. But we also need the active participation of parents, both in supporting their own children’s learning, and in improving science education for their children at school and at home.