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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 12, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 14
JHU Writes Curriculum on History of Science for Joy Hakim Text

By Amy Cowles

The Talent Development Middle Grades program at Johns Hopkins has developed and is testing a curriculum on the history of science, based on the first volume in well-known author Joy Hakim's new The Story of Science series.

A contract to publish the teaching materials for Aristotle Leads the Way (Smithsonian, 2004) is pending with Smithsonian Press, publisher of Hakim's planned six-volume science series. Aristotle Leads the Way is a narrative of scientific discovery from Mesopotamia to the Middle Ages.

The pilot program is being launched in two New Jersey middle schools. About 100 students at Winslow Township Middle School in Atco chose the class as an eighth-grade elective. Approximately 35 eighth-graders at Friends School of Mullica Hill will also use the lessons. In addition, several home schools are participating.

"Because of Hakim's extensive following in the home school community, and the continuing growth of this movement, we felt it was important to solicit input from home-schooling parents," said Maria Garriott, who developed the curriculum with Cora Teter at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins.

The curriculum crosses several disciplines, covering the advancement of astronomy, chemistry and physics. Aristotle Leads the Way also includes a strong emphasis on mathematics, and embedded reading strategies to help students understand the challenging material. Each lesson suggests additional activities to link science to music, language arts, history and other subjects. A recurring feature is a time-traveling character, Professor Quest, who appears in each lesson to summarize the main point, usually with wit. To allow researchers to gauge the curriculum's impact, all students will take a test before the semester-long pilot and another at the end.

Hakim approached Douglas MacIver, director of the Middle Grades program, about developing the science materials. Garriott and Teter had helped develop curriculum for Hakim's 10-volume A History of US, and Hakim wanted similar materials for her science books. "It's especially important to provide support materials, such as lesson plans and assessments, to enable teachers to adapt Hakim's narrative for classroom use," Teter said. "Our goal is to build on the text and provide everything the teacher needs for exciting, engaging classroom instruction."

Garriott and Teter are also completing lessons for the second book, Newton at the Center (Smithsonian, 2005), which picks up the quest for scientific learning in the 15th century and ends at the dawn of the 20th.


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