THE DEVELOPMENT AND STUDY OF EARTH SCIENCE LESSONS IN KINDERGARTEN CLASSROOMS
This project focused on the development and testing of Kindergarten Earth Science lessons that have been designed to fit the NGSS and allow students at an early age to develop an Earth Science foundation. It is hoped that by introducing the concepts at an early age, the students will be less likely to develop misconceptions. Six lessons were developed covering the following topics: 1) the scientific method, 2) atoms and the states of matter, 3) layers of the Earth, 4) mineral characteristics, 5) the rock cycle, and 6) volcanoes. Each lesson was tested in an after-school program for kinder and first grade. The lessons were taught once a week over six weeks and in the sequence listed above.
In addition to the lessons, teacher and student assessments were developed and evaluated to better understand the participants’ perceptions of teaching and learning from the lessons. Student assessment was designed to be appropriate to the kinder level and involved circling cartoon faces and drawing pictures. Throughout the lessons, the students seemed to build on connections between each topic. Assessment results showed that the majority of first grade students had a good level of understanding while the kindergarteners struggled with the concept of evaluating the lessons.
Overall, the students gained a better understanding of Earth Science through these lessons and developed an interest for the Earth Science concepts. Results from this round of testing will be used to revise these six lessons to accommodate the teacher suggestions and alleviate observed student confusion. Future work will involve the development of additional lessons covering the topics of: plate tectonics, fossils, and igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.