Mapping Concepts for Science Literacy
across Grades
topic - Magnetic Field

Steps to create a concept map
    1. Decide categories of information to include on the map. I could of course focus only on concepts or it could include additional information. Our sample includes the topic, the ides or concepts, the experiences that might facilitate it's learning, and standards or benchmarks, and final outcome as explained in Science for All Americans. - blank sample template .
    2. Select a topic to map - magnetism. Add it to the template.
    3. Decide what information students will have about the concept when they come to school and how that information could be known. Sample
    4. Decide what experiences would be appropriate for kindergarten students that may not have had similar experiences so that students with and with out those experiences will have opportunities to learn.
    5. Decide what can be expected for kindergarten students to know about magnetism by the end of kindergarten and identify learning experiences students can participate in to learn that information. Sample
    6. Review curricular expectations, knowledge of children, wisdom of practice to complete the map by adding concepts, experiences, source and expected science literacy outcome. Sample
Information to consider during the process

The learner's developmental level must be considered when ways of understanding the science ideas are considered. Students must have the reasoning abilities to construct an accurate representation of the scientific knowledge, the processes of science and its perspectives for the ways being described. For the concept - magnetic field a person must be able to use conservation in their reasoning, represent objects and ideas in three dimensions, simultaneously manipulate more than two variables, to reason with invisible phenomena by using observations of those changing variables that represent magnetic fields and properties of objects that interact with magnetic fields. The characteristics of students in the primary grades are not sufficiently developed for them to create this representation or mental model of a magnetic field. With appropriate primary experiences early middle school students can. More specifically some of the developmental structures include:

  • Conservation: transformation, reversability, infinity
  • Visual spatial reasoning - relative position, motion, perspective drawings, visual representation and manipulation of a visual magnetic fields, using incomplete pieces and slices of observation to create a complete spatial representation of magnetic fields.
  • simultaneously manipulating two or more variables to visualize the results of manipulated variables on responding variables.
  • systematic reasoning
  • proportionality

Since primary students are developmentally limited in their ways of understanding magnetism, should it be included in early curriculums. Probably since magnets are an important object in our world, they are very attractive especially to young people, and they have unique properties. However, they areprobably best included with process topics such as properties, observation, measurement, relative position and motion; or learning how to do scientific investigation.

  • Primary - properties, observation, classification, interactions, communication, and scientific inquiry
  • Intermediate - relative position and motion, force, energy, energy transfer, and models.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©