A paragraph from "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas" Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. PREPUBLICATION COPY---Uncorrected Proofs
"The research summarized in Taking Science to School  revealed that children entering kindergarten have surprisingly sophisticated ways of thinking about the world, based on in part on their direct experiences with the physical environment, such as watching objects fall or collide and observing plants and animals [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. They also learn about the world through everyday activities, such as talking with their families, pursuing hobbies, watching television, and playing with friends . As children try to understand and influence the world around them, they develop ideas about their role in that world and how it works [17, 18, 19]. In
fact, the capacity of young children—from all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels—to reason in sophisticated ways is much greater than has long been assumed . Although they may lack deep knowledge and extensive experience, they often engage in a wide range of subtle and complex reasoning about the world [20, 21, 22, 23]. Thus, before they even enter school, children have developed their own ideas about the physical, biological, and social worlds and how they work. By listening to and taking these ideas seriously, educators can build on what children already know and can do. Such initial ideas may be more or less cohesive and sometimes may be incorrect. However, some of children’s early intuitions about the world can be used as a foundation to build remarkable understanding, even in the earliest grades. Indeed, both building on and refining prior conceptions (which can include misconceptions) is important in teaching science at any grade level. The implication of these findings for the framework is that building progressively more sophisticated explanations of natural phenomena is central throughout K-5, as opposed to focusing only on description in the early grades and leaving explanation to the later grades. Similarly, students can engage in scientific and engineering practices beginning in the early grades."