With current textbooks 'obsolete,' Palo Alto's middle schools to get new science materials | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

Town Square

Post a New Topic

With current textbooks 'obsolete,' Palo Alto's middle schools to get new science materials

Original post made on Feb 24, 2020

The Palo Alto school board will discuss on Tuesday a committee's recommendation for a new middle school science curriculum, Amplify Science.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 24, 2020, 2:31 PM

Comments (13)

15 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Feb 24, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Wonder why w a budget like PAUSD's, spending the highest $$/student in the state for a comparable district, over $20k/year, that PAUSD did not get up to date science books for our kids earlier. Making sure to put the $$s in their own pockets first?


15 people like this
Posted by PA Middle School Student
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:46 am

Wouldn't it be more economical as well as environmental to eliminate ALL textbooks and simply have the information available online via iPad, laptop etc.?

Plus...kids wouldn't have to lug around heavy backpacks filled with stupid books.


Like this comment
Posted by Random Scientist
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2020 at 1:49 pm

@PA Middle School Student -- it's a combination print and digital offering.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by DIY Science
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Suggestions for homeschooling types looking for science textbooks during the elementary and middle-school years.

We went with Bernard Nebel's textbooks, and there's a caveat: parents must read the material first, before teaching the science to kid(s). It requires more of the stereotypical homeschooling scenario with the parent teaching the kid(s).

Nebel has three textbooks covering k-2, 3-5, and 6-8. Previous users suggest, even for older kids, going back and starting at book one (from kindergarten), so that's what we did. My kid finished the third textbook in 6th grade and didn't do regular lab-type science for two years. Instead, the focus shifted to history of science books by Joy Hakim.

Despite not doing lab science for two years, and not reviewing for the CAASPP science test in 8th grade, my kid scored well in the "Standard Exceeded" range. The Nebel books had a lot to do with that. Kids learn by doing experiments using household items (generally), going outside and looking at Nature, and taking notes. You can also incorporate online science videos.

PAUSD would probably not consider textbooks by Nebel, but his textbooks provide a pretty solid grounding in scientific learning.


12 people like this
Posted by Rich
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2020 at 7:10 pm

There seem to be several problems here.

Why are the current science books 'obsolete'? What were the metrics that made it metrics? Without any justification offered, this decision seems to be arbitrary.

That the proposed text received a luke warm meh review, supported by a slim margin of reviewers, and yet pausd is eager to spend $800M!? Why is this?

This new book seems to be on Shakey ground and it's not even here. Is this how pausd pick text for our kids? Sad.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:49 pm

That would be Bernard Nebel, Ph.D., as the book's cover prominently announces.

I immediately distrust any book whose author puts "Ph.D." after their name on the cover. It is hucksterism. They are attempting to sell the book to a trusting but naive audience based on the mystique of a graduate school degree rather than the strength of their material. Having an advanced degree is not a guarantee of professional or pedagogical competence. Prominently featuring it may in fact indicate the opposite.

Buyer beware. Judge by the book's objective reviews, not its puffery.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2020 at 11:21 pm

^ Doctor of Thinkology


4 people like this
Posted by DIY Science
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2020 at 6:52 am

I have a Ph.D., which I guess makes me suspect to some posters here. I like to think, however, that a doctorate means I have the skills to evaluate texts that are reliably educational. I'm not sure if someone above is questioning whether I am looking for un-reliable material that supports a religious view of science simply because I've mentioned homeschooling. There is a false belief that homeschoolers are religious types.

Using Nebel's books, which require a more active vs. passive approach to learning, resulted in my kid earning 97% of the total points on the CAASPP science test given to 8th graders. This occurred even though my kid hadn't been doing lab science for two years after completing Nebel, and so I'm merely suggesting that parents might want to take a look at the Nebel books if they're interested in a more self-directed approach to learning science. They don't have to be year-round homeschoolers. They could do so over summer break. I don't think the school district would choose such a text, and maybe most PAUSD students are scoring higher than my kid did, but I don't view Nebel as a huckster.


6 people like this
Posted by Call Me Doctor If You Will
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2020 at 8:14 am


"Prominently featuring it may n fact indicate the opposite."

The Ph.Ds who demand or expect to be called 'doctor' in public outside of academia are the true hucksters.

I have a neighbor with a Ph.D in sociology & he wants to be called doctor by everyone...his gardener, CVS & grocery clerks & Lyft/Uber drivers.

What a pompous bag of wind!


2 people like this
Posted by DIY Science
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2020 at 8:51 am

Most Ph.D.'s I know never want to be called "Doctor." Yes, it can seem pompous. Agreed. Most people have no clue that I have a Ph.D., and I would never want someone to call me "doctor." On the other hand, we do evaluate sources for credibility, and a Ph.D. next to an author's name signals that they've spent a significant amount of time learning about and probably teaching their subject. Paying attention to that is one among a number of factors to consider when evaluating the source of information. You'd want to note that when reviewing a science textbook. I don't think Nebel listed his Ph.D. to offend or declare a sense of absolute superiority over anyone.

IMHO, we live in an age when titles that simply signify rank, rather than specialist knowledge or certification, should be called into question even more. Here's looking at: king, queen, prince, princess, duke, lord, lady, etc. etc. Let's get rid of "royal" or "noble" titles of all kinds. Those seem much more pompous than "Doctor." If we have to go in for surgery, we do want someone with a title/certification next to their name.


2 people like this
Posted by Call Me Doctor If You Will
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 26, 2020 at 9:16 am

"Let's get rid of "royal" or "noble" titles of all kinds. Those seem much more pompous than "Doctor." If we have to go in for surgery, we do want someone with a title/certification next to their name."

^^^In the United States, there are no royal or noble titles.

You must be referring to Great Britain and other countries that still acknowledge royalty or noble lineages.

Besides, most kings, queens & princes/princesses are not in the surgery field...they have private physicians who go by 'Dr.' or 'MD".

On a side note...

It's generally the insecure boobs with Ph.Ds in the social sciences who demand being called doctor in public.

After all & it has been noted many times before that the social science are NOT a true science because the results often vary or are not the same even under identical conditions.

While a sociologist might refer to a group of individuals as 'type' (along with politically correct considerations), an ignorant person often bases his/her perspectives on 'stereotype' which in many instances is identical sans the PC.

Social science (i.e. sociology, psychology, anthropology et al) are essentially 'sciences' of the OBVIOUS while the field of economics is a science of the OBVIOUS but with charts & graphs.

IMO & FWIW...it's OK to be in the physical or biological sciences & prefer to be called Dr.

On the other hand, it is a stretch to expect the same (outside of academia) if one's Ph.D is in the behavioral sciences or business administration.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2020 at 6:37 pm

"... a Ph.D. next to an author's name signals that they've spent a significant amount of time learning about and probably teaching their subject."

Many people understandably mistake a Ph.D. as evidence of deep broad expertise. Not so. Earning a Ph.D. entails a very deep dive into a highly narrowed thesis topic. Having one does not certify expertise beyond the confines of that delimited topic.

The breadth needed to write a proper survey textbook comes from the professional experience gained after earning the degree. Boasting about having a Ph.D. on the cover of that book is therefore irrelevant at best, and it easily crosses into hucksterism.

It may be a very fine textbook inside, but as always, be cautious when judging a book by its cover. That cover may be subtly warning you.


Like this comment
Posted by member 1
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm

OK. funny Dr. discussion.

I would love to see actual current labs, current lab reporting criteria, current science best practices and an approved person to approve labs so children will not get hurt. It would be so fun to spend the money on some new amazing thing like an anatomy glass cadaver table or the 3 dimensional presentation systems for chemicals. Just could be more fun than a textbook that can not be as fun as some of the really fun toys that could be bought that would make a kid love to use and go to class for. Most schools have a lab person to approve labs. Making a T shirt with an element is not a lab, it is an art project. Students are not prepared for college or High school. Now... al the labs are done online and corrected online by a robot. These are not labs. These are fun cartoons that everyone has done and results are all posted already for kids to cut an paste without effort or excitement. There is no smell color, three dimensional fun or temp change in person. I hope one of you doctors can put labs first and forget about a text. The teacherd do not really use the texts anyhow. They refer to Kahn academy or Bozeman Science. They are good, but at different levels and how many times can they watch the Bozeman guy explaing the Krebs cycle without taking drugs to get through it.Just my non doctorate opinion.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Stay up to date on local coronavirus coverage with our daily news digest email.

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
By Laura Stec | 11 comments | 28,628 views

These local restaurants are donating meals to Bay Area residents in need. Here's how to help.
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 10,626 views

Coronavirus: Plan ahead now for a big outbreak
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 3,700 views

Will the Coronavirus Save Lives?
By Sherry Listgarten | 27 comments | 3,566 views

How COVID-19 Affects Communities
By Jessica Zang | 3 comments | 909 views

 

DEADLINE EXTENDED

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details