Prentice-Hall Science, Prentice-Hall Science Explorer, Prentice-Hall
Exploring Physical Science, Prentice-Hall (Now Pearson) (Many dates
and many variations.)
Lineage of Exploring Physical Science
Traced through reviews and some state adoption proceedings the lineage
of EPS is interesting.
November - December, 1992 The Textbook League's 'The Textbook Letter'
reviewed THE NATURE OF SCIENCE, 1993 and the review is entitled "This
Book Is a Piece of Junk".
Nov/Dec '92 'The Textbook Letter' reviewed MOTION, FORCES, AND
ENERGY, 1993 and the review is
entitled "What a Display of Ignorance".
December 3, 1992, The State of
Indiana adopts the nineteen texts of PRENTICE-HALL SCIENCE, copyright
1993, from July 1, 1993 to June 30, 1999.
Jan/Feb '93 'The
Textbook Letter' reviewed HEAT ENERGY 1993, ... "I Weep for
Nov/Dec '93 'The Textbook Letter' reviewed ELECTRICITY
AND MAGNETISM 1993, ... "This Book Is an Insult".
Mar/Apr '94 'The Textbook Letter' reviewed all of the above
in their 1994 versions to determine which improvements had been made. Very few. The review was titled "The Books
Are Still Junk, the Claims Are Misleading."
1994 Florida's adoption committee
voted down (four to three) PRENTICE-HALL SCIENCE: PHYSICAL SCIENCE,
1994 edition "inaccurate in content" (Source: committee minutes.) Paperwork indicates there had been a pilot
Fall of 1994, Millcreek puts into service, EXPLORING PHYSICAL SCIENCE,
1995...ostensibly a different book with no prior dates or antecedent
texts identified. It includes
all the above. (Plus CHEMISTRY
OF MATTER, SOUND AND LIGHT, and MATTER: BUILDING BLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE)
Sep/Oct '95 'The Textbook Letter' reviewed EXPLORING
PHYSICAL SCIENCE, 1995. "Educators
Should Avoid This Book Like the Plague"
June 1st, 1996 South Carolina
adopts EXPLORING PHYSICAL SCIENCE, 1995
November 12th, 1996 Florida adopts 2nd edition of EXPLORING PHYSICAL
CHEMISTRY OF MATTER distinguished itself in 1993 and 1994 versions
with a full page flopped photo of the Statue of Liberty. EPS did the same on the analogous page
in 1995 and in 1997 edition's first printing. EPS 1997 second printing includes a photo of Linda Ronstadt
labeled as a silicon crystal doped with an arsenic impurity. From 1995 to 1999 in EPS (like PHS 1993
- 1997) the Periodic Table of the Elements retains 109 elements although
there were more by 1994.
SOUND AND LIGHT states that the angle of reflection equals the angle
of incidence and then breaks that law in 12 of 15 illustrated reflections
involving curved mirrors. The
3rd edition presents plane mirrors this way: A dog faces an observer and sits with
his tail to the mirror. The
dog's image "through the looking glass" can be seen by the
observer and that image also faces the observer! If you see the back of your head in your mirror that would be
MATTER: BUILDING BLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE gives definition of atomic number
as the number of protons in an atom's nucleus. The atomic number of a beta particle is
given as -1. This is so
stated in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1997. This is a convention that should be made explicit. Whatever the real definitions are, they
eventually must make sense.
Material in EPS can be traced farther back to PRENTICE-HALL PHYSICAL
SCIENCE, first out in 1988, and PRENTICE-HALL General Science A VOYAGE
OF ... first out in 1986. Different
April 1997 The Independent
Commission on Environmental Education, 1730 K St NW, Suite 905, Washington,
D.C. 2006 put out the study 'Are We Building Environmental Literacy?' ISBN 1-878831-05-4 which specifically points out other members
of the 19 book series, Prentice-Hall Science, specifically Ecology;
Earth's Living Resources, Ecology; Earth's Natural Resources;
and Exploring Earth's Weather, products of the same team apparently,
and subject to the same weaknesses. 1( 800)992-0671.
About 1997 Texas adopts the third printing of the 3rd edition of the
Alabama's contract on EPS-95 for use in grades 9 - 12 goes to the year
2002 per http://www.alsde.edu/clrmimp/textbooks/textlist.html
(click on science and scroll to Physical Science). This URL is as of
7-1-99. In addition, Oregon may have adopted EPS - see ABC News 20/20,
April 2nd, 1999.
About late September 1999, Project 2061 releases preliminary results
of Carnegie study of science books. PHS Physical Science material is ranked at the absolute bottom.
Circa 11-99 A copy of the North Carolina School Price List 1999 that
covers the Science Texts K-8 and 9-12. EXPLORING PHYSICAL SCIENCE and PRENTICE-HALL SCIENCE for the
first time I'm aware of are listed with authors as "Editorial."
Circa 11-1-99 EPS 1999, teacher version, 3rd ed. 2nd printing. Most errors continue.
There remain hundreds of errors in the 3rd printing of the 3rd edition
of EXPLORING PHYSICAL SCIENCE 1999 ISBN 0-13-435873-2 which is still
in use all across the country. Prentice-Hall's PHYSICAL SCIENCE (Appenbrink et. al.) of 1981
and 1984 is a much more accurate text.
The Baltimore Sun's Jan 31st, 1999 three page article ("It's
in the Book and It's Wrong", by Marego Athans and Gary Cohn listed
many errors. (Go to www.sunspot.net
and click on <archives> to order a copy.) A couple of months later Pearson Education,
Prentice-Hall's new owner, promised that all the errors would be corrected
and updates would be posted on the web by the end of 1999. The press release is at http://www.pearsoned.com/pr/32599.htm. The site is http://www.phschool.com/curriculum_support/openbook/science/index.html but it hasn't even posted updates
on the new elements synthesized since the 1993 edition of PH Science. Only a few long-standing errors are addressed. This site is a sham.
This material was adopted in all twenty plus states which do adopt
except initially Florida which had a responsible individual on their
team in 1994 and adopted NO middle school physical science texts. In 1996, Florida joined the rest.
In early February 2000, we purchased SCIENCE EXPLORER 2000 (3rd
printing of the 1st
edition teacher version), a 15- volume middle school science set (labeled
A through O), from Prentice-Hall. This has been cobbled together into the 2001 3 volume series
California voted to adopt on the date of the lunar eclipse in January
2000. Periodic table lists 112 elements that will never be correct
in 2000 or 2001 now that numbers 114, 118 and 116 were synthesized in
the first half of 1999. The
publisher is again caught by its own copyright inflation. Of course, all of this is simply to point out that the publisher
is trying to sell books by suggesting that they are up-to-date. This is nonsense and totally irrelevant
to the intended audience. The
simplest thing to do is to point out that scientists are continuing
to fabricate new elements in the laboratory and publish a Table that
is quite suitable for Middle School.
Fortunately, the 1st printing was not intended to go into classrooms,
being labeled for promotional use only. (It had a geo-synchronous satellite parked over Pennsylvania. Later printings place these satellites in possible equatorial
orbits. Any satellite must go around the system's center of gravity. If some of its orbit is north of the equator its other half must
be south of the equator. It becomes geo-synchronous only at the
right speed and distance above and basically concentric with the equator.) A frustrating good is that a number of
errors noted in EPS and PHS have been fixed for this series, but those
necessary corrections have not been made on the web site or in later
printings of EPS. For instance
the steam engine in SE's Motion, Forces, and Energy, '00 Vol. M, p.
188 properly vents spent steam through an open slide valve rather than
through a closed slide valve as in EPS on p. 466 in '95, '97
and '99 through the 3rd printing, as in PHS, Heat Energy on p.
54 in '93, '94 and '97, and as in PH Physical Science
on p. 426 in '88, '91 and '93. For the record the PH Physical Science
of '81 and '84 got it right on page 277. And for the record, no author's name appears on more than two
series. This error continued
in editions and printings from 1987 through 2000 (the 3rd printing of
EPS 99 was done in 2000) in spite of changes of authors.
Unfortunately, some of the same errors have been re-drawn and repeated
in the Science Explorer set. Voltmeters
showing input voltages on step-up and step-down transformers are connected
in series rather than properly in parallel. This is true of PHS Electricity and Magnetism
p. 79, EPS p. 549 and SE Electricity and Magnetism, Vol. N, p. 95
The physical science portion of the SE series has been assembled into
a text called Focus on Physical Science, copyright 2001, which California
adopted in January 2000. Focus
on Life Science and Focus on Earth Science are assembled from the rest
of the SE series.
Too often, a concept will be explained by a real life circumstance
and it then becomes apparent that the writer understands neither the
concept nor the real life circumstance. SE Chemical Building Blocks,
Vol. K, p. 54 - 55 explains gas laws in terms of a basketball left out
overnight in the cold. In the morning when the player tries to dribble,
the ball goes to the pavement, and "...splat, it just stays there
because the volume of the air inside decreased, chilled by the cold
winter air." No way! There's still a basketball full. Gases fill
the space available. The pressure drops about 10%. And, "...the
ball will return to its full volume in the warmth of the school gym."
No, the ball is OK even cold. You can still dribble a basketball fresh
from the deep-freeze. It's a little stiff because the rubber is cold.
I (HPL) did. My friends did too. You can too. Prentice-Hall's people
can too, but they didn't.
M. R. Cohen, T. M. Cooney, C. M. Hawthorne, A. J. McCormack, J. M. Pasachoff,
N. Pasachoff, K. L. Rhines, and I. L. Slesnick, Scott Foresman and Company,
Glenview, IL, 1991.
This text is part of the Discover Science series and is intended
for use by fifth grade students. It has reasonably balanced coverage
of life science, physical science, and earth science as well as two
chapters on health. The Life Science Unit has chapters on Classifying
Living Things, Plant Processes, Invertebrates and Vertebrates, and Populations
and Communities. The Physical Science Unit covers Investigating Matter,
Heat, and Temperature, Changing Forms of Energy, and Energy Resources.
The Earth Science Unit has chapters on the Earth's Changing Crust, Protecting
the Environment, and Climate.
Each chapter is organized into 3 to 5 lessons each ending with review
questions. These questions
are for the most part answered directly in the previous reading material,
but there are some questions that require integration of ideas. The same is true of the end of chapter questions. As is true of most elementary texts, the
questions place too much emphasis on word meanings and not enough on
understanding concepts. Occasionally
students are asked questions which are beyond their experience. For example, after an activity in which students experiment with
the electrical force between two charged objects, they are asked, "If
we blow up a balloon and rub it with a piece of wool cloth, the balloon
will stick to the wall. Explain why." This case of the attraction between a
charged object and a neutral one is conceptually far beyond what the
students have done. On
a positive note, there are open-ended questions at the end of each chapter
that require students to write a paragraph. These should be very helpful to teachers in determining if the
students have assimilated the concepts as long as they realize that
there is often not one "right" answer.
There are three activities in each chapter: one very simple one at
the beginning and two more detailed ones later. About one third of these activities involve measurement or other
quantitative skills. The
rest only involve doing something and observing what happens, but at
least the observations are well structured. In general, the activities seem to be grade level appropriate. They are closely related to the topic
of the lesson and the connection should be obvious to the students,
yet the activities are never referred to in the textual material. This seems to be a lost opportunity to
consolidate the learning that has taken place. While much better than experiments in some elementary science
books, the activities often stop short of what could have been done
with the lesson. For instance,
in an activity on physical change, students are asked to observe what
happens when one mixesbaking soda and calcium chloride, then what happens
when water is added, yet it never suggests comparing this to what happens
when water is added to each material separately.
With one major and a few minor exceptions, the content of the book
seems to be developmentally appropriate for fifth graders. The major
exception is the treatment of atoms and molecules. Fifth graders are
barely ready for the idea of matter as particles. They are certainly
not ready for the parts of an atom, the periodic chart, molecules, and
formulas. The National Science Education Standards (National Academy
Press, Washington, DC, 1996) state that even through eighth grade "few
students can comprehend the idea of atomic and molecular particles."
The minor exceptions include the difference between heat and thermal
energy and the introduction of fission and fusion in the Energy Resources
The number of new concepts introduced per chapter is appropriate as
long as one does not try to cover the entire book. For a typical school year, covering the book works out to about
2.5 weeks per chapter, which is adequate for some chapters but certainly
not for all. The text could
benefit from more examples to help make the concepts concrete. The book contains many colorful pictures for which the relevance
to the discussion is obvious (unlike some books in which even an adult
may puzzle over the connection). The book does work hard at making connections to real life by
discussing things like power plants, lightning, and the operation of
fuses. However, it manages to connect to the
kids' world as opposed to the adult world.
On a careful reading of the physical science section of the book, there
are no gross errors of fact. However, as with all elementary science
books, there are statements that are incorrect primarily due to imprecise
language. For instance, the chapter on electrical energy contains several
minor errors. It speaks of using power rather than energy. The spark
which one may see as a result of a build up of electric charge is referred
to as a "form of electricity" when in fact the spark itself
is light. At one point the student is told, "The flow of electrons
is electricity, which carries electric energy from place to place",
which causes me to envision an electron picking up a bucket containing
a certain amount of energy from the battery and delivering it all to
the light bulb. However, while annoying to a physicist, none of these
statements will do serious harm to a child's understanding. Overall,
this book was found to contain fewer errors than other elementary science
Each chapter also contains several ancillary sections aimed at broadening
the students' perspective on the topic. Each lesson has a "Find out on Your Own" section that
usually contains suggestions for library research. There is a "Skills for Problem Solving" section,
which focuses on the traditional science process skills such as classifying,
measuring, graphing, and interpreting data from tables or graphs. Although intended to teach the process
skills, they do utilize the concepts from the chapter. Each chapter ends with a one page section
called "Science and People", which discusses a scientist and
his or her work, or "Science and Technology", which focuses
on a case in which technology has been used to solve a problem. In general, these are well done, although the people ones tended
to be better than the technology ones. In addition, at the end of each unit, there is a one-page section
on careers and one called "How it Works". The careers sections discuss several careers
related to the topic of the unit and include information about what
a person in that career does and how much education is required. The one in the Physical Science Unit has
paragraphs on physicists, heating mechanics, power plant operators,
and air pollution inspectors. The "How It Works" sections are the worst single feature
of the book and should have been omitted. The topics addressed are microscopes, television, Geiger counters,
and allergy medicines. In
all cases, the explanations are both poorly written and far above the
level of understanding a fifth grader would have of the background concepts.
One unusual and positive feature of this book is a section at the beginning
of the book on Scientific Methods, which goes much beyond stating the
usual 4 steps, and a section at the end of thebook called "Using
Scientific Methods", which provides an additional experiment for
each chapter. These experiments
are introduced in the context of someone having a problem to solve. The experimental procedure is given and students are encouraged
to collect their own data, but the results the person in the story obtained
are also provided. Students are then asked questions about what conclusions they
can draw from the experiment, why certain things were done, and how
the conclusion would be effected if something had been done differently. These will form a very nice addition to
the students' learning experience if the experiments are done, but are
probably still useful even if they aren't.
In summary, this book is an acceptable fifth grade science textbook.
While not perfect, it contains fewer errors than many of its competitors.
In addition, while clearly it is a textbook not a hands-on curriculum,
it does have experiments in each chapter, which will help students understand
the concepts being studied, and the experimental nature of science.
Other Things Considered
- Paul Hickman (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been evaluating
several new efforts at developing new elementary school curricula
using criteria described at http://projects.terc.edu/impact/template/resources/msthtml.cfm.
These materials are not yet competitors for the texts that we have
been looking at.
- The UMass Physics Education Research Group is developing a program
Minds on Physics published by Kendall/Hunt at about the 8th
or 9th grade
level. The first three volumes already published
will provide an excellent resource for Middle School teachers. The authors are using the latest results
from the efforts of the Physics Education Research (PER) community.
- A more traditional but highly accurate and acceptable approach is
contained in the Robinson Self-Teaching Home-School Curriculum Version
2.0 which is designed for grades K-12 and is contained on 22 CDs available
for just under $200 available from the Oregon Institute of Science
and Medicine, P.O. Box 1279, Cave Junction, OR 97523.
- Integrated Science, Book One & Book Two published by J.M. LeBel
Enterprises in 1994, while not a big seller is quite good. Each volume has fewer than 250 pages.
- Scientific Accuracy: Not
one of the books we reviewed reached a level that we could call 'scientifically
accurate' as far as the physical science contained therein. The sheer number of errors precludes such
a designation. While
we were not looking specifically at the biological component of the
texts, there were obvious errors there also. We were not looking for typographical and grammar errors, but
many were noted and have not been reported. Many of the obvious errors could be easily corrected, but the
subtle errors (including misuse of technical words or phrases, the
promulgation of ideas not validated by scientists, and promotion of
'politically correct' views) that would leave incorrect
implications would be more difficult to root out.
- Adherence to an Accurate Portrayal of the Scientific Approach: There were many instances where there were hints that there
is an approach to solving problems that could be labeled 'scientific,'
but no text emphasized and reminded the reader that the scientific
approach was something to be learned and applied, perhaps even outside
the science classroom. There
were a few disconnected instances where it was suggested that students
'design an experiment.' Some texts had many activities and in many instances, they
were good ones, but there was no clear-cut point to the activity. Follow-up questions tended to be trivial
and were not incisive and geared to encourage further thinking and
coming up with an improved experiment. At the core of Middle School science there should be material
dealing with how to ask good questions, how to design ways to get
answers to the questions, how to gather equipment needed to carry
out an experiment, how to record results, and how to interpret them. Measurement is very important and there were few instances
where students were taught how to use instruments. Orienting and reading a meter stick properly is an important
skill. Most college students
have to be taught this skill because introductory exercises show that
they do not know how.
- Appropriateness and Pedagogic Effectiveness of the Material: Without a thorough grounding in measurement making and scaling
and some simple mathematics, introducing atoms and molecules (including
DNA) into the Middle Schools is a mistake. The diagrams that appear in the texts are quite confusing. The nucleus is drawn large and the electron very small, but
nowhere is it pointed out that, this is mass representation and not
a volume representation. Students are then surprised to learn that nuclei, even very
massive ones, are very small. Astronomy is very difficult (but easy to make simple questions
for students to memorize answers to) to do well, but there are excellent
exercises having to do with the Sun and Moon over extended periods
for this level of student. Why
Daylight Savings Time? What
does it do for us? What can be observed at the equinoxes
and the solstices? Measuring
and plotting are what is needed, but none of the books reviewed suggest
this. Very little of the mathematics (ratio
and proportion, graphing, even addition and subtraction) that they
have been learning is being put to use. The Periodic Table has a wealth of material already laid out,
but instead of looking at boiling points and freezing points, color,
texture, phase at room temperature, etc., the texts worry about electronic
configurations and whether they have the latest number of atoms on
their chart. The net result is that students come away memorizing a great
deal of material that they regurgitate on tests that emphasize recall
and think that they know science.
- Readability: We generally are not experts at determining
reading levels, however, we felt that generally the reading level
was simple (short sentences and easy vocabulary.) As a check we scanned several randomly (in some cases the first
one or two choices were ignored as there was too much non-textual
material) pages and read them into Microsoft Word and ran the Spelling
and Grammar checker to get the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. Most of the pages including those of the
books that were designed at the 8th and 9th
grade level came out at less than Grade 6.0.
- Attractiveness and Quality of Illustrations: The books are beautifully done. Most of the budget must have gone into color, photographs,
graphic artists, archive searches, and the like. Rarely does a page not have something in color and often five
or six color photographs or drawings or diagrams appear on a page. The quality of the illustrations is excellent, even though
not always appropriate. An
adult, not conversant with science, picking up one of these books
would be very impressed. On
hearing that the latest nuclei forged in laboratories are mentioned
in the book, that the latest results of experiments carried out in
space are mentioned in the book, that the latest pictures from space
are in the book, and that 'hundreds' of scientists have
taken part in producing the book, most reviewers would want this book
for their children.
- Laboratory Activities and Suggested Home Activities: Most suggested activities were good ones and appropriate, but
lacked the necessary follow-up for testing what had been learned from
the experience. The theory or principle being tested was
not obvious. During the
course of this effort, we came across quite a few activity books that
suffered in the same way – good experiments, but answers to
'Why did we do it?' and 'What does it illustrate?'
go unanswered. Students come through school with a strong
dose of mystical thinking. They
believe that everything is possible. There are no bounds to what can be accomplished. Science says, 'No!' There are bounds and science adds to our
knowledge by showing what can't be.
- Exercises to Test Understanding: For the most part these were trivial from a physical science
perspective. If one is trying to get answers from nature,
one does experiments. One
does not read a section of a text and then get quiz questions that
only require remembering what was read. Granted some of that is appropriate, but too much gives the
student the wrong idea about what science is about. Science is not history or social studies. It's different, and these exercises typically do not
- Resource Suggestions: Most
books gave quite a few references to resource material for the teacher
and the student. Teachers could get materials lists and
suppliers from addenda to the texts. Usually this material was included in the Teacher's Edition
of the student text. A
couple had a tremendous amount of material coming close to providing
a course for the teacher in teaching techniques, highlights of the
various philosophies used in preparing the text, and several course
outlines for the slowest students to the most gifted. The reviews mention some of these.
Suggestions for Middle School Teachers
- As soon as you know what text has been chosen for you form a network
with several other teachers of the same course in your area and make
contact with a nearby expert in physics or chemistry or geology or
biology. E-mail is a great medium for informal discussion and as a means
of getting quick answers to questions. Search the web for relevant sites, especially the publisher's
site. It may not be up-to-date,
but it could be helpful.
- If you haven't taken discipline-based courses in a subject
area, say physics, contact the American Association of Physics Teachers
(each subject area has a national organization that can direct you
to local affiliates) and find out how they can help you. The AAPT publishes Powerful Ideas in Physical Science that
contains some excellent material in the 'less is more'
format that you can immediately introduce in your class after you
have worked your way through. Each unit begins with a list of common
misconceptions that students (and adults!) have about that particular
area of physics. Get
your network to put together a bibliography of sources found useful
in their teaching.
- Ginn and Company published the Ginn Science Program elementary school
in 1973 by Isaac Asimov and Roy A. Gallant. If you can find copies (many volumes), get them! Clifford E. Swartz, then Director of the
National Science Foundation Workshop on Elementary School Science
by a Quantitative Approach, wrote the three volume Measure and Find
Out: A Quantitative Approach to Science published by Scott, Foresman
and Company in 1969. These books have what is missing from
most of the books reviewed in this report. Holt, Rinehart and Winston published Project Physics
in 1970 for 9th
grade, but if you have never studied physics before, this is excellent
and the teacher 's guides and readers will help you learn material
directly applicable to your classroom. The National Science Foundation spent millions of dollars on
several programs designed for the elementary schools in the 1960s. All this material is now contained with references to the National
Science Education Standards on a CD from The Learning Team, called
'The Enhanced Science Helper'. The 2nd
edition of Essentials of Elementary Science by Dobey, Beichner, and
Raimondi is available in paperback from Allyn and Bacon. The Best of WonderScience from Delmar Publishers by way of
the American Chemical Society has over 400 hands-on elementary science
activities. Science Experiences
for the Early Childhood Years 2nd edition by Jean Harlan and published by Merrill gets good marks
from several elementary school teachers for the very early grades.
- Subscribe to 'The Textbook Letter' at email@example.com.
- Take advantage of workshops appropriate to your course offered by
the various discipline based societies – they are the next best
bet to taking a course.