The Really Useful Elementary Science Book

Bloom, J. W. (2011). The really useful elementary science book. New York: Routledge.

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Amongst the challenges that elementary teachers may often face as they introduce their students to science is the need to maintain a solid understanding of the many scientific concepts and details themselves. This indispensible resource, intended for pre- and in-service elementary school teachers, provides concise and comprehensible explanation of key concepts across science disciplines. Organized around the National Science Education Standards, the book tackles the full range of the elementary curriculum including life sciences, ecological sciences, physical sciences, and earth sciences. Although not a methods text, the clear and accessible definitions offered by veteran teacher educator Jeffrey Bloom will nonetheless help teachers understand science concepts to the degree to which they can develop rich and exciting inquiry approaches to exploring these concepts with children.

Perfect as a companion to any elementary science methods textbook or as a stand alone reference for practitioners, The Really Useful Elementary Science Book is a resource teachers will want to reach for again and again.

Table of Contents

Section 1 - Introduction

Section 2 - Life Processes and Systems

Key Idea 2.1 - Characteristics and Basics Needs of Living Things
Key Idea 2.2 - Levels of Organization
Key Idea 2.3 - Development of Complexity in Animals
Key Idea 2.4 - Human Characteristics
Key Idea 2.5 - Characteristics of Plants
Key Idea 2.6 - The Development of Complexity in Plants
Key Idea 2.7 - Issues of Survival for Living Things
Key Idea 2.8 - Human Survival and Health
Key Idea 2.9 - Growth and Development
Key Idea 2.10 - The Theory of Evolution
Key Idea 2.11 - Replication and Genetics
Key Idea 2.12 - Variety of Life
Resources and References

Section 3 - Ecology and the Environment

Key Idea 3.1 - The Gaia Hypothesis — The Earth System
Key Idea 3.2 - Levels of Organization
Key Idea 3.3 - Types of Ecosystems
Key Idea 3.4 - Features of the Biosphere and Its Ecosystems
Key Idea 3.5 - Dynamics of Ecological Systems or Ecosystems
Key Idea 3.6 - Sequences and Cycles — Life, Energy, and Materials
Resources and References

Section 4 - Physical Sciences

Key Idea 4.1 - Mass and Weight
Key Idea 4.2 - Force and Motion
Key Idea 4.3 - Energy, Work, Simple Machines, and Other Mechanical Concepts
Key Idea 4.4 - Matter: Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Liquids, and Gases
Key Idea 4.5 - Waves, Sound, and Light
Key Idea 4.6 - Temperature, Heat, and Thermodynamics
Key Idea 4.7 - Electrical Phenomena
Resources and References

Section 5 - Earth and Space Sciences

Key Idea 5.1 - The Structure of the Earth and Earth System
Key Idea 5.2 - Earth Features
Key Idea 5.3 - Earth Materials and their Properties
Key Idea 5.4 - The History of the Earth
Key Idea 5.5 - Climate and Weather
Key Idea 5.6 - Earth, Moon, and Solar System
References and Resources


"A good elementary science teacher traverses a wide spectrum of science each year. While the content may be introductory, the breadth of science can be a challenge for anyone in the science community. The temptations for teachers can be to give up in despair and cherry-pick only those science topics with which the teacher is comfortable. Jeffrey W. Bloom has instead used the well founded notion of ‘key ideas’ to bring organization and economy to the breadth of science, and then linked those ideas to school grade levels as per the National Science Education Standards—-all without dumbing down the content. I would expect any K-8 teacher of science to find this aptly-titled book of immediate value for the planning of grade appropriate science lessons without sacrificing rigor."

—Bill Cobern, Professor of Biological Sciences and Science Education, Director of the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, Western Michigan University

"Whether you are trying to answer the query of a child or just refresh your knowledge, this book provides a useful portal to science concepts and terminology. Written in concise language, with helpful diagrams, Jeffrey W. Bloom presents solid overviews of the most commonly encountered school science topics. Such a wealth of information gathered into one easily accessible place will make this an indispensible reference for the serious teacher of elementary science."

—Bernard Ricca, Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Program in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, Saint John Fisher College

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