Centered on Student Ideas
As a student-centered curriculum, Smithsonian Science for the Classroom supports all students by putting their ideas front and center. Students are encouraged to share their own thinking through notebooking, group work, and making their thinking public in whole-class discussions. Research has shown that even in the early grades, students already have ideas about nature, science, and engineering. Some of these ideas are correct, and some are incorrect, fragmented, or poorly connected. Many incorrect ideas align strongly with natural intuition or past experience. While there is some debate over the best way to characterize these ideas, they are broadly referred to as misconceptions.
Good Thinking! call-out boxes are embedded in lessons throughout Smithsonian Science for the Classroom to alert teachers to the parts of lessons that address common misconceptions.
Incorrect or incomplete science ideas should be gradually revised through investigation and discussion of evidence, not by mere authority of teacher or textbook. Therefore, each module of Smithsonian Science for the Classroom includes investigations and discussions that purposefully address common misconceptions relevant to each topic. These misconceptions are listed at the beginning of each module. Specific ways to push student thinking forward—and build on the knowledge students do have—are included in Good Thinking! call-out boxes throughout each lesson.
Students learn that sound causes vibrations when they see that sound from their kazoos makes salt jump.
Students plan and test a design to move water from one location to another rather than grabbing materials and impulse designing.
Students learn that it is important to share test results even when their design is unsuccessful so they can make improvements to their next design.
Smithsonian Science for the Classroom is a new curriculum developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It is designed to engage, inspire, and connect your students firsthand to the world around them. The curriculum has been developed in consultation with teachers and field tested in a range of schools with diverse populations. It draws on the latest findings and best practices from educational research.