Science and Technology

Content Standard E

As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop

  • Abilities of technological design

  • Understanding about science and technology

  • Abilities to distinguish between natural objects and objects made by humans

Developing Student Abilities and Understanding

The science and technology standards connect students to the designed world, offer them experience in making models of useful things, and introduce them to laws of nature through their understanding of how technological objects and systems work.

This standard emphasizes developing the ability to design a solution to a problem and understanding the relationship of science and technology and the way people are involved in both. This standard helps establish design as the technological parallel to inquiry in science. Like the science as inquiry standard, this standard begins the understanding of the design process, as well as the ability to solve simple design problems.

Children in grades K-4 understand and can carry out design activities earlier than they can inquiry activities, but they cannot easily tell the difference between the two, nor is it important whether they can. In grades K-4, children should have a variety of educational experiences that involve science and technology, sometimes in the same activity and other times separately. When the activities are informal and open, such as building a balance and comparing the weight of objects on it, it is difficult to separate inquiry from technological design. At other times, the distinction might be clear to adults but not to children.

Children's abilities in technological problem solving can be developed by firsthand experience in tackling tasks with a technological purpose. They also can study technological products and systems in their world—zippers, coat hooks, can openers, bridges, and automobiles. Children can engage in projects that are appropriately challenging for their developmental level—ones in which they must design a way to fasten, move, or communicate. They can study existing products to determine function and try to identify problems solved, materials used, and how well a product does what it is supposed to do. An old technological device, such as an apple peeler, can be used as a mystery object for students to investigate and figure out what it does, how it helps people, and what problems it might solve and cause. Such activities provide excellent opportunities to direct attention to specific technology—the tools and instruments used in science.

Suitable tasks for children at this age should have clearly defined purposes and be related with the other content standards. Tasks should be conducted within immediately familiar contexts of the home and school. They should be straightforward; there should be only one or two well-defined ways to solve the problem, and there should be a single, well-defined criterion for success. Any construction of objects should

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