1st Edition

Powerful Ideas of Science and How to Teach Them

ISBN 9780367188689
Published July 20, 2020 by Routledge
236 Pages 63 B/W Illustrations

USD $26.95

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Book Description

A bullet dropped and a bullet fired from a gun will reach the ground at the same time. Plants get the majority of their mass from the air around them, not the soil beneath them. A smartphone is made from more elements than you. Every day, science teachers get the opportunity to blow students’ minds with counter-intuitive, crazy ideas like these. But getting students to understand and remember the science that explains these observations is complex. To help, this book explores how to plan and teach science lessons so that students and teachers are thinking about the right things – that is, the scientific ideas themselves. It introduces you to 13 powerful ideas of science that have the ability to transform how young people see themselves and the world around them.

Each chapter tells the story of one powerful idea and how to teach it alongside examples and non-examples from biology, chemistry and physics to show what great science teaching might look like and why. Drawing on evidence about how students learn from cognitive science and research from science education, the book takes you on a journey of how to plan and teach science lessons so students acquire scientific ideas in meaningful ways.

Emphasising the important relationship between curriculum, pedagogy and the subject itself, this exciting book will help you teach in a way that captivates and motivates students, allowing them to share in the delight and wonder of the explanatory power of science.

Table of Contents

Section 1: Aims for school science education: for who and for what?

1. Fallacies of science education

2. Powerful ideas of science

3. The nature of science and the rules of the game

Section 2: The science of learning science

4. Why learning science is hard but wonderful

5. How we learn: A cognitive science perspective 

6. Why motivation matters

Section 3: Planning lessons with thinking in mind

7. Preparing to plan: Thinking about progression over time 

8. Planning what to teach in the lesson

9. Planning how to teach it

Section 4: Planning and teaching the phases of instruction

10. Rewind and success for all: Retrieval practice

11. Trigger interest and activate prior knowledge

12. Introducing new ideas: Explanations and models

13. Practice ideas to build understanding: Worked examples and deliberate practice

14. Apply and integrate to make and break connections

Section 5: Responsive teaching

15. Making thinking visible so feedback can take place 

Conclusion: Time to reflect  Lesson planning templates

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Jasper Green has worked in science education for over ten years as a teacher, head of science and most recently in initial teacher education. He is founder of thescienceteacher.co.uk and can be found on Twitter @sci_challenge.


"Jasper Green’s book offers an antidote to the lack of vision which frames so many science curricula.  Here you will find a fresh and innovative exploration of what it means to teach science. Drawing on much of the latest and best research and scholarship in education, it shows how these ideas can improve both the quality of student experience and their engagement with learning. The book reveals the nature of the complex challenge that it is to teach science. As such it should be essential reading for all teachers of science."Jonathan Osborne, Kamalachari Professor of Science Education, Emeritus, Stanford University, US

"This is a beautifully structured book which explains some of the big ideas of science together with the best pedagogical strategies for teaching them. It is rich with examples, activities and practical applications of difficult concepts. And it is all about the challenge and the joy of making meaning, and how all our activities and tasks must work towards that goal."Daisy Christodoulou MBE, Director of Education, No More Marking, UK