American students' science and math skills have been losing ground relative to those of their peers in other countries even as the economic importance of analytical skills has continued to climb. A new book from the National Research Council aims to improve science education by building on the results of a recent study of U.S. teaching methods and emerging data on how children learn and retain scientific concepts. Ready, Set, Science! Putting Research to Work in K–8 Science Classrooms (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2008) is for parents, teachers, and curriculum designers.
Science textbooks "have often drawn a fairly sharp distinction between scientific content and scientific processes," says the new book, which urges educators instead to marry the presentation of facts with hands-on science experiments.