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Life Science vs. Integrated Science?

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Keith Wilhelmi Keith Wilhelmi 60 Points

Last May I retired after 42.5 years of teaching science to middle school students, and I was fortunate to be able to devote most of my career toward the subject of my primary passion (and training) - life science. Recently, I have been offered the opportunity to assist the author of a life science book in producing a new edition of his book. My concern is the current and future 'market share' for life science as a separate subject. I have written to a few science education professors seeking their input on this topic, and have begun researching this topic online. If my admittedly small amount of research is correct, CA has adopted the integrated approach, and MA school officials have recommended integrated over single discipline, but they are not mandating this option. I would greatly appreciate any feedback, particularly how I might obtain actual statistics on this - that is, what % of school districts use which approach. Thanks!

Micheal P Floyd Jr Micheal P Floyd Jr 75 Points

Life Science, today, is no longer a single topic. The Science behind "Life" involves a combination of Sciences. Take for example my studies in Biological Science, which involves a great deal of Earth Science in which Biological Science lives/reside. Biological Science's structure also involved Life Science - that which Biological Structures is composed of - Life itself - and it centers upon Environmental Science, especially where Biologicals are found. So to learn Biological Science, one has to learn an array of Sciences that embodies it. So to look upon "Life Science" as a topic isn't Science at all. One has to look upon "What makes Life Science" a Science? Does this address your Enquiry? -

Keith Wilhelmi Keith Wilhelmi 60 Points

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response.

I just composed a detailed reply, but found when I tried to post it that my time expired. Lesson learned. I'll compose it again offline and paste in soon.

Keith Wilhelmi Keith Wilhelmi 60 Points

I agree with all that you've stated. However, I think that the best way to present science information to middle school children might still open to debate.

In teaching life science, I did incorporate some basic chemistry (atoms, molecules, equations for photosynthesis and cell respiration, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels), as well as a good deal of environmental science (cycles of matter, creek health), but I feel very fortunate that I had the time and support to include a number of lengthy biology units. A few of these were: a Fall garden unit that also introduced the scientific method and the use of spreadsheets (with each pair of students growing a plot of turnips with, and without, a measured amount of fertilizer); a creek unit (with small teams completing biodiversity indexes / tallying the number of different species of macroinvertebrates); an in-depth study of local trees and birds (both of which I'm convinced enhanced my students' concern for nature); and a lengthy self-paced dissection of the bullfrog (integrated with the study of the major human organ systems).

From your feedback, and from other research that I've recently completed (including responses from college professors of middle school education), it is apparent that the single-discipline approach is losing favor. Frankly, I fear that this shift could be costing us many good middle school teachers - at a time when we are in dire need of good science teachers. While there has been a surge in public interest in nature, what percentage of those who love biology (and middle school children) will also find that they have a passion for the more abstract physical sciences?

Further, will teacher training in preparation for the integrated science approach allow time for advanced coursework - such as I had - in topics such as freshwater ecology, field ecology, entomology, field biology, as well as human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and pathogenic microbiology?

Once again, I truly appreciate you taking the time to produce your detailed response.

Micheal P Floyd Jr Micheal P Floyd Jr 75 Points

Thank you for your judgment, for many who read your response may share that you're working to hard, instead of thinking gard. Keep this in focus, Middle School Science is a beginning, not an ending. Sixth Graders are taught the foundation of Science that would include Earth and Biological Science, and these include the tools found within Mother Nature's Toolbox which changes the face of the Earth forever... Earth Science... and how the Biological Structures of animals, breath, eat, and pass waste. Tell me, do you know the basic stages of breathing? Don't provide book sense, try common sense: "Into the mouth, down the esophagus, into the Trachea, down through the Bronchus. Over to the Bronchioles, into the Alveolies. and out-of-the lung. into the blood stream, over to the heart... this continues down through the appropriate ventricles, down the body, up the body, into the brain, out of the brain, down the body into the appropriate Ventricles, over to the lung. Then into the lung"... reverse the process until out-of-the mouth. Children of this age can relate, because it is what they do 24/7. How they eat follows something similar, but a different pathway. Once Sixth graders learn animal method of breathing and eating, which leads to a different pathway to exit the body, they may enter seventh grade where they'll learn the walls that stand upon this foundation. Plants functions a different, but taking in liquid is basic: "Water in the ground, absorb by the roots, up through the xylem, over through the branch, into the leaves, into the Cell with its ridge cell wall. Inside the cell is chloroplast, water, and carbon dioxide. Fueled by the Sun there's a chemical reaction that goes like this. "Sugar plus water, plus carbon. makes oxygen. Leaves give us through transpiration water and oxygen, leaves take in water and carbon, and expels water and and oxygen, through a process called Stomata... "Whats Stomata with you?" I said all of this to express the steps of learning in Middle School, many don't know, but they know what those in power say. I am not in power, but I prove to those in power that "I know best". Sixth grade learn the foundation of Science, Seventh grade learn in walls that stand upon the foundation, Eighth grade learn the rafters that bear the roof. Ninth grade learn the wiring and plumbing throughout the structure that was built in Middle School, Tenth grade learn the walls that cover wiring and plumbing. Eleventh grade installs the furniture that brings it all together. Twelve grade are introduced to a new foundation of Science from within a "Different World" of learning (University). I do hope this helps... -

Marcus Phillips Marcus Phillips 60 Points

I absolutely agree with you. I'm glad I found this post, but the problem is that I don't even know where to start writing a personal statement. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought, I think, without the help of personal statement writing services can not do. This is too important a document to take risks and make mistakes in it.

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