I checked out what is supposed to be taught in sixth grade and found that one quarter is devoted to this:
In Investigating Climate and Weather students begin by conducting a series of inquiries to connect their own experience of climate and weather to the planetary systems that govern weather events and climate change. Next, they investigate the evidence and associated scientific debate surrounding climate change. From their evaluations of this evidence, students predict climate and weather changes for the area in which they live.I can't help it but somehow I find the idea that sixth grade pupils in Chicago schools will conduct a "series of inquiries to connect their own experience of climate and weather to the planetary systems that govern weather events and climate change" utterly laughable. Most of these kids can't even spell atmosphere and wouldn't know troposphere from ionosphere. Try throwing "adiabatic" at them (a reversible thermodynamic process executed at constant entropy and occurring without gain or loss of heat). Next they will "investigate the evidence and associated scientific debate surrounding climate change." For sure!
Weather systems and factors contributing to climate are some of the most complex things imaginable requiring an advanced and sophisticated store of knowledge. The top brains in science can't even come up with computer models that can fully account for this complexity. But Chicago pupils who lack even the rudiments of science will somehow pore over scientific papers and make predictions. This is delusional to the point of being comical!
What these students need is a systematic, coherent and age-appropriate grounding in major topics of science (physics, chemistry, earth science, biology, etc.) with increasing sophistication as they advance through the grades.
Instead of realistic, specific content goals for each grade, the Illinois state board presents vague and highly pretentious "descriptors" focused entirely on process and "inquiry". These "descriptors" are essentially the same for babes and high-school seniors and everything in between. What "content" knowledge requirements exist are rather vague, skimpy and applied to broad grade ranges.
The following is an excerpt from the Illinois Learning Standards: Classroom Assessments and Performance Descriptors:
Here is a portion of the "descriptors" for FIRST AND SECOND GRADE!!!
11A - Students who meet the standard know and apply the concepts, principles, and processes of scientific inquiry.
1. Describe an observed science concept using appropriate senses, making applicable estimations and measurements, predicting steps or sequences, describing changes in terms of starting and ending conditions using words, diagrams or graphs.
2. Begin guided inquiry asking questions using prior knowledge and observations, inferring from observations to generate new questions, or developing strategies to investigate questions.
3. Conduct guided inquiry following appropriate procedural steps and safety precautions as directed by teacher.
4. Collect data for guided inquiry identifying and using instruments for gathering data, making estimates and measurements, recording observations, or reading data from data-collection instruments.
5. Record and store data assembling pictures to illustrate data, or organizing data on charts and pictographs, tables, journals or computers.
6. Analyze and display results recognizing and describing patterns, noting similarities and differences in patterns, or predicting trends.
7. Communicate individual and group results identifying similar data from others, generalizing data, drawing simple conclusions, or suggesting more questions to consider.
11B - Students who meet the standard know and apply the concepts, principles, and processes of technological design.