Britannica middle-school program takes aim at science misconceptions

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A new version of Pathways: Science, the online program that helps middle-school students overcome their misconceptions about science, has just been released by Britannica Digital Learning.

Designed for classrooms in grades six, seven and eight, the program covers key topics in the curriculum, addressing misunderstandings that frequently confuse students. For example, many students believe that seasons change based on the Earth’s distance from the Sun, when in fact it’s the changing tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis in relation to the Sun that causes the change in seasons.

The Pathways: Science program tackles these problems with structured lessons in which students explore and test their assumptions with data and authoritative sources of information. Each Pathways lesson starts with a probing question to which students respond, expressing their existing beliefs about the topic.  They then explore their ideas in depth, collecting data from Britannica’s extensive collection of science articles, videos and annotated images. Students use this information to support or refute their beliefs. The process leads them to new and accurate understandings that will better equip them for high school and college.

The flow of each lesson corresponds to the steps in the inquiry process and includes activities that promote conceptual change and analytical thinking. The program was shaped by input from middle-school science teachers and academic research on ways to overcome scientific misconceptions.

Teachers can use Pathways: Science as a source of supplemental lessons at any time and in conjunction with any core curriculum.  The new version of the product provides separate views for teachers and students and allows teachers to track student progress. “We’ve made a very popular product even better,” said Michael Ross, general manager of Britannica Digital Learning and a senior vice president with Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

“We’re grateful for the excellent feedback we’ve gotten from teachers and students and their enthusiastic response to the new version.”

More information is available at 1-800-621-3900 and info.eb.com.

About Britannica Digital Learning

Britannica Digital Learning (BDL) provides reliable, high-quality products and solutions for educators and students in grades PreK-16.  BDL products are created by scholarly experts, skilled editors, educators, and curriculum specials. They’re designed to ignite curiosity and collaboration in students and make teaching and learning more effective. Products include Britannica School, SmartMath, Pathways: Science, and Image Quest. BDL is a division of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. and is headquartered in Chicago.