Natural Sciences and Environmental Issues 15FPNAT

Course Objectives

Students will:

- Enjoy and develop an interest in working with natural sciences subjects

- Gain an insight into children’s relationship with nature, enabling them to stimulate children’s curiosity, thrill of discovery and conceptual development

- Gain knowledge of practical work in the natural sciences and the organisation of children’s activities

- Gain knowledge of nature study and develop an understanding of the conservation of nature

- Gain knowledge of seasonal and daily variations and the importance of these to living organisms

- Gain knowledge of elementary chemistry and physics

- Gain knowledge of health issues of particular relevance to children

Target areas

Natural Sciences and Environmental Issues has five target areas:

· Natural activities, observation and experiments

· Ecology and environmental issues

· Seasonal variations in nature

· The physical world view

· Health

1. Natural activities, observation and experiments

This target area provides students with practical experience in working with natural sciences: field work, collection, observation and experimentation. The joy of experiencing nature will be focussed on, to enable students to develop a positive attitude towards natural activities for children.

Course components:

- Observation, collection and study of plants, animals, earth and stones

- Practical experience in using nature

- Organisation of activities and experiments for children

2. Ecology and environmental issues

This course provides students with knowledge of ecology and important environmental problems. Students will gain insight into the causes of current environmental problems, and learn how information about ecology and environmental problems may be communicated to children. The importance of providing children with fundamental attitudes through which they may develop environmentally friendly attitudes will also be focused on.

Course components

- What is an ecosystem?

- Photosynthesis and cellular respiration

- Plant and animal adaptation to life on land and in the water

- Views of nature and uses of nature in different cultures

- Current environmental problems including climate change, ozone and UV radiation, air and water pollution and waste

3. Seasonal variations in nature

This target area provides students with knowledge regarding the effect of the seasons on plants and animals. Students will gain practical experience in the observation and registration of the weather, plants and animals in a reference area over the course of the different seasons.

Course components:

- Phenological calendars

- Use of reference areas

- Winter ecology

- Animal tracks and traces

- Signs of spring

4. Physical world view

This target area provides students with fundamental knowledge of the sky above us and the weather that surrounds us. Students will gain knowledge of elementary physics and chemistry, and of the organisation of games and simple experiments.

Course components:

- The sky above us: the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets

- Weather and bad weather

- What is air? What is water? Physical and chemical properties of air and water

- Technology and energy: light, colours and rainbows

- Making sounds

- Having fun with electricity and magnetism

5. Health

This target area provides students with knowledge of health issues that are of particular relevance to children. Students will also acquire knowledge regarding the human body, with emphasis on the sensory organs.

Course components:

- The human body

- Senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, the skin and touch

- Common diseases and illnesses of children: contagious diseases, asthma, allergies

- Diet and nutrition for young children

- Preventative health efforts in day-care centres and schools

Course Description

In pre-school teacher education, Natural Sciences and Environmental Issues contributes to the acquisition of competence to be used in pedagogic work with children in day-care centres and schools, including organised after-school programmes. The subject matter of Natural Sciences and Environmental Issues takes into consideration children of different age groups and children from various cultural backgrounds and traditions, as well as children with special needs.

Natural sciences activities provide direct contact with nature and natural phenomena. They also form a good basis for developing ideas, language and arithmetic skills. Specific experiences linked to natural sciences topics may also provide all-round stimulation of the senses and stimulate children’s curiosity, desire to discover, creativity and motor skills.

Children’s relationship to nature is an important part of their upbringing and development. Attitudes towards environmental protection and nature conservation are founded in childhood. In order to develop closeness and a sense of safety and joy in relation to nature and to the local environment, it is important to have positive natural experiences. In turn, this may lead to a desire to preserve and protect nature and the environment.

It is also important to regard natural sciences as part of common knowledge in an ever more complicated and technologically driven society. In day-care centres, simple experiments related to everyday phenomena may spark an interest in natural sciences at an early age.

The course includes knowledge of natural sciences and didactic and methodological approaches to natural sciences in schools and day-care centres. Each major course unit includes examples of course components. Didactics are addressed in each target area.

Learning Methods

The course is designed so that theory and practice form a whole. Theory will be related to the practical part of the course. The course emphasises field studies and practical exercises, which provide students with nature experiences and practical experiences to be used in day-care centre activities. Much of the practical work will be conducted outdoors.

Field trips and practical assignments are mandatory. Other mandatory attendance will be specified in the year plan provided at the start of the course.

Teaching practice

Through teaching practice students will gain experience in integrating natural sciences subjects into the daily operation of day-care centres and schools. Students will receive training in the use of outdoor and local areas in their pedagogical activities. Students will gain experience in planning, adapting and teaching natural sciences in day-care centres and schools.

Assessment Methods

Portfolio assignments

During the academic year students must submit two portfolios assignments that will receive graded marks; together, they count for 40% of the final grade. In addition, students are required to submit one portfolio assignment that will be assessed pass/fail. Students are required to receive approval of their portfolio assignments at least one month before the date of the examination in order to be allowed to sit the final examination.

Final examination

Four-hour individual final examination that is assessed on a graded scale, which counts for 60% of the final grade.

The course yields a single grade, graded from A to F, where A is the highest and E is the lowest passing grade. In order to achieve a final passing grade students must achieve a passing grade in each part of the assessment.

For further information, please refer to Telemark University College’s Examination Regulation.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Frode Evenstad <>, last modified Ian Hector Harkness - 01/04/2011