Others who have field-tested the Young Scientist series have had similar reactions:
“I found it really easy to follow. Everything was very clear. Anybody could use it. The teachers didn’t lose
interest. They really liked the hands-on parts, and they were very engaged in the reflective discussions.”
—PUBLIC SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR
“When I read through the workshops, they looked so good, I decided we needed to do them all!”
—HEAD START DIRECTOR
The Young Scientist
The above vignette suggests the excitement that can be generated when teachers really enjoy
learning about and trying out new teaching approaches. In order to build the knowledge and
skills teachers need to implement an inquiry-based science curriculum, the Young Scientist
provides both teacher guides and a comprehensive set of training materials for each of three
• Discovering Nature with Young Childreninvites children to assume the role of a naturalist as
they observe and learn about plants and animals in the immediate outdoors, as well as in
their own classrooms.
• Exploring Water with Young Childrenhelps children examine the properties of water.
• Building Structures with Young Childrenengages children in investigating the relationships
between building materials and design and the strength and stability of the structures.
Development and Testing
The Young Scientist is a result of a four-year grant funded by the National Science Foundation.
It draws on current understanding of best practice in science teaching and learning. Key to the
development process has been the involvement of practitioners and experts from the field who
have helped us design our approach, review draft documents, and test the curriculum and pro-
fessional development materials. The final stage in this process was a national field test con-
ducted in 2001 and 2002, in nineteen early childhood programs including Head Start, pre-K,
child care centers, and private nursery schools. Program directors, education managers, and
curriculum coordinators from these programs planned and implemented the training activities.
Ninety teachers participated in the workshops and used the teacher’s guides in their classrooms.
Results revealed that some combination of the workshops and more informal support was im-
portant to help teachers apply their new learning in the classroom. Moreover, participants re-
ported evidence of science learning in children’s questions, observations, and discussions.
Overview of the Trainer’s Guide
Teachers often feel insecure and inadequate about their own understanding of science concepts
and do not realize how they can learn through inquiry and then use their new understanding in
the classroom. These training materials focus on helping teachers begin to gain an understand-
ing of the underlying science concepts in the Building Structures with Young Childrenteacher’s
guide and learn to use that guide to facilitate children’s inquiry.
2 Building Structures with Young Children: Trainer’s Guide