When I was a young child in the 1950s, science wasn't a subject taught in my elementary school. The teachers focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic. At that time, home economics and shop classes played a more prominent role than social studies and science instruction.
All that changed when the Soviet Union launched a satellite by the name of Sputnik on Oct. 5, 1957. Suddenly, science was added to the curriculum of every school in the nation—and the space race had officially begun.
Today's science curriculum focuses on more than the process skills of observation, inference, and experimentation. An emphasis on laboratory science is included in what is commonly called the hands-on approach to science learning, in which scientific knowledge is combined with reasoning and thinking skills.
Science teaching today is also shaped by the National Science Education Standards, produced by the National Research Council in 1995 and published in 1996. The standards divide K-12 science education into eight categories:
* Unifying concepts and processes in science
* Science as inquiry
* Physical science
* Life science
* Earth and space science
* Science and technology
* Science in personal and social perspective
History and nature of science
The very nature of science as an ever-changing discipline requires timely and updated tools to deliver instruction within the science classroom. Technology programs provide the perfect solution to engage today's students in scientific inquiry.
This article covers science software in the categories of standards-driven teaching, simulations, inquiry, and science tools. This piece is not intended to provide a thorough review of the science resources available to educators; these products are examples of programs of these types designed for K-8 students.
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