Stepping Stones To Science

Stepping Stones To Science; True Tales and Awesome Activities by Kendall Haven. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas Press, 1997. ISBN 1-56308-516-X $22.00, 155 pp.

Haven says " Science is stuffed with more than enough risk, drama, intrigue, courage, mystery, struggle, brashness, daring, greed, deceit, and boldness to support a juicy soap opera for years." The thirteen stories which make up this book support his claim. All deal with epiphanies, those moments of AHA! when understanding breaks through.

The scientists whose epiphanies are described range from Archimedes in 259 BCE to Eugenie Clark in 1956. They come from the earth, physical and biological sciences and link well with the grade 2-5 science curriculum. Haven says he chose the stories not only because they are fascinating tales, but because they demonstrate both the content and process of science.

It's the way that the process of science is demonstrated that I think is invaluable for the students. We are clearly shown the struggle and perplexities involved as the scientists wrestle with an idea, hypothesize, test, and evaluate the results. Children can see that the answers do not always come readily to adults, that questions must be asked, and asked again until an answer is found. The stories engage the reader / listener through the use of dialogue and clear focus on just one vignette from each scientist's life. They are delightfully written and are accessible as stories told or read to students, or even read by the students themselves.

Excellent support naterials accompany each story .The pre-story elements include points to ponder (open ended questions for discussion); science curriculum links :or the teacher; and key picture-maker words. The latter gives definitions of concepts from the story which may be unfamiliar or unclear to the students, md guidance on ways to make the concept clear before the story is started. Post-story elements include topics to talk about to help relate the stories to core science and to the students' daily lives; age appropriate hands-on experiments and worksheets; and a list of books for additional reading on that scientist and science topic. Kendall Haven's bio is almost as interesting reading as the book. A former research scientist, he is the only West Point graduate to ever become a professional storyteller. He has won numerous awards for his work as a teller, writer, and advocate for the educational value of storytelling.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stepping Stones and intend to leave it where my children are likely to pick it up and peruse it. This is a must-have for schools and home educators, and a boon for storytellers who are looking for ways to help educators make use of storytelling across the curriculum. Highly and offers a refreshing alternative to television for children at home. In school it's a natural choice for listening centres in the primary grades.

The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 1, March 1998
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