SA NC Doing Investigations/Chapter 10



What is a resource book and why a resource book for investigations?

Introduction to the book and its theme: investigations

The wisdom of the winners: hints and ideas for science and mathematics educators

Ideas for investigations

Managing and assessing investigations

Examples of investigative activities in science and mathematics

Materials developed by the winning educators

Clusters, support networks and communities of practice

Scientific and mathematical literacy

Some useful URLs (internet addresses) for educators

Useful "Uniform Resource Locators" (URLs) edit

If you are fortunate enough to have a computer and access to the internet (the world-wide web or "www") there are wonderful "websites" to visit for information. Each site has a unique URL (e.g. which is actually its electronic address. Many sites are useful for science-, mathematics- and technology educators. Because so many sites exist these days we can only mention a few examples here.

Once you start visiting websites you will find links to many other sites that you may prefer to the ones below. Develop the habit of collecting useful sites in your computer's "Favourites" box. The Department of National Education has a comprehensive website ("Thutong") that consolidates all available curriculum information for educators. In the near future it will also contain actual materials and lesson plans or links to these. The other websites also provide links to many other educational websites. Browse through these and you will find information that you didn't even know you needed! That's the way of the web.

A good place to start if you are trying to establish standards for science and mathematics education (i.e. to pinpoint the skills, competences, knowledge, attitudes, values etc. you want children at various grades, ages and stages of development to learn), is at

It gives you links to literature on the whole issue of standards as well as taking you to some of the key sites for the individual subjects of interest to NASA. The site covers selected entries for science, mathematics, technology and geography. The (American) National Council of Educators of Mathematics standards site is at

What they have done is show how the essential concepts are built up from the simplest elements to advanced concepts. They follow certain key concepts in mathematics (which are usually applicable to other subject areas as well e.g. science and geography) such as "change" and show the age- and grade-related steps that one might take in developing the concept.

A most ambitious project by the American science / science education community is Project 2061, so named because that is the year in which Halley's comet next appears. The grand aim is for every American citizen to be scientifically literate by then. So is a great website for science educators. The Project 2061 home page then leads you to their "Benchmarks On-Line" at that sets out what is meant by scientific literacy and the steps for getting there. For a quick, pictorial summary of Project 2001, you can look at

The National Curriculum On-Line for the United Kingdom gives details of educational expectations by Key Stage and Attainment Targets for education in the UK at Unlike most of the American work on standards the British version is not based on grade levels but rather attainment levels, regardless of age. Having said that, the levels of development one would expect for certain age ranges are given and this can be a useful guide for educators.

A review of numeracy Attainment Targets are described at

A useful site to begin with if you are new to technology education and still trying to fathom how it differs from technical education is the website of the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) at In addition it gives their 20 standards (which define technology education for the ITEA) at

If you want something meatier, including academic papers and discussions of the finer points of technology education, why not browse the Journal of Technology Education at

The web is literally overflowing with sites containing practical ideas for technology education and challenging material on how things work, for instance at

At one time the University of Southern California was said to have the biggest computerized university library anywhere in the world. They have produced a "Science Educator's Glossary" which is at

Browse through the links that interest you and you may find something useful. There are also some very good commercial encyclopedias. But if you want a site that costs you no more than your service provider fee and which gives you some information on just about everything, try

Once you start searching for sites with good teaching resources you will enter a world with more information than you can cope with. So be quite focused about your searches unless you want to get sucked in and carried away! Some of the sites are commercial, like

Another excellent resource site (over 30,000 lesson plans here) costing $9.95 a year for membership ­ less than R70 - is at

There are excellent mathematics resources for pre-school to Grade 12 and university students (these are suitable for the high flyers in the senior school) at The beauty of the website is that it links you to a whole lot of other mathematics resources as well.

A site that is not commercial and which provides some really interesting activities in a range of learning areas is the American Public Broadcast Service site at

The education website of the US Geological Survey at provides activity sheets and background material in geology, hydrology, biology and geography. The geographical stuff is fantastic. Even though it's all about the USA it can be adapted easily. There are activities for pre-school to Grade 12 learners.

On a slightly whackier note you can visit Beakman at to find some weird and wonderful activities and investigations that come out of a TV science show. Learners will love these.

In the end, no matter how much fun we have in the classroom, we have to assess and evaluate. Continuous assessment, rubrics etc. are new to many of us and it is interesting to see what other people are doing. Although materials from other countries may have to be adapted before South African educators can use them, good ideas and examples will always be useful. So have a look at and

One of the best and most useful, all round, mathematics and science education sites must be Kathy Schrock's Not only do we find masses of ideas, including many on assessment, but we also get mathematics and science activities (classified according to grades) and many links to other sites on the world wide web.

Finally, here's something for a bit of fun. The web is full of interesting sites like these to spice up your class with puzzles and icebreakers. Look in the "Web Guides" on this site and you will find more puzzles. Many of them may be too difficult for your learners. If so, just get the idea of the puzzles and make up your own!

There are some nice mathematical puzzles at

Finally there are some good icebreakers and energizers at these two websites: and

Have e-fun!