Goals of the FOSS Program
FOSS has set out to achieve three important goals.
1. SCIENTIFIC LITERACY. Provide all students with science experiences that
a. are appropriate to their cognitive stages of development and
b. serve as a foundation for more advanced ideas that prepare them for life in an increasingly complex scientific and technological world.
The quality of life will be significantly influenced by science and technology in the 21st century, therefore, it is important for all citizens to be scientifically literate. They should be able to make thoughtful, informed decisions.
Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science characterizes scientific literacy as
- Familiarity with the natural world, its diversity and interdependence.
- Understanding the big ideas of science such as energy, patterns of change, variation, systems and interactions, and scale and structure.
- Knowing that science, technology, and mathematics are interdependent human enterprises and, as such, have implied strengths and limitations.
- Ability to think scientifically.
- Using scientific knowledge and thinking patterns for personal and social purposes.
The FOSS program design is based on the theory that humans advance through a predictable sequence of stages of cognitive development over time. Each stage is complete in itself, yet preparatory to something more advanced.
The second grader encounters the natural world and its diversity by observing, comparing, and organizing information about objects, organisms, and natural systems, thus developing into a scientifically literate second grader.
As fifth graders, students can think in terms of cause and effect, and tackle content that calls for understanding relationships among variables. This more complex, but still developing, knowledge of the natural world is characteristic of a scientifically literate fifth grader.
FOSS contributes to the attainment of full scientific literacy by providing active learning experiences designed to establish appropriate steps of literacy as students advance toward High School.
2. INSTRUCTIONAL EFFICIENCY. Provide all teachers with a complete, flexible, easy-to-use science program that:
a. reflects current research on learning, including collaborative learning, student discourse, and embedded assessment, andHands-on science is intrinsically fun and interesting for students. Most teachers can be superb science teachers when they are provided with effective instructional materials. The FOSS program is designed to make hands-on science engaging for teachers as well as students. The program's instructional features include:
b. uses effective instructional methodologies, including hands-on active learning, inquiry, integration of disciplines and content areas, and multisensory methods.
- Complete equipment kits with durable materials.
- Science background information for the teacher.
- Detailed lesson plans that are easy to follow and adaptable to many teaching styles.
- Student sheets, in English and Spanish, including a letter home to parents, response sheets, math problems of the week, and home/school connections.
- Embedded assessments.
- End-of-module assessments for grades 1 - 6, including performance assessments.
- FOSS Science Stories, module-specific readings for grades 1 - 6.
- Interdisciplinary activities, including math and language extensions.
- Specific activities to do at home.
- Suggestions for extending experiences through reading, videos, and the FOSS website.
- Monographs on pedagogy and management strategies.
- Teacher preparation videos showing extensive classroom interaction.
3. SYSTEMIC REFORM. Meet the community science-achievement standards and societal expectations for the next generation of citizens, prepared with the knowledge and thinking capacities to manage the 21st century.
The FOSS program design makes it appropriate for reform efforts on all scales. It has met with the approval of science and technology companies working in collaboration with school systems, and has demonstrated its effectiveness with diverse student and teacher populations in major urban reform efforts. FOSS continues to respond to the needs of systems moving away from passive exposure to scientific concepts toward real experiences for students that reflect the vision of the National Science Education Standards.