Physical Science in Montessori

I’ve been pondering Physical Science* in the Montessori curriculum…or rather, the lack of it. We certainly do a fantastic job of covering Biology, Geography, and History, but when it comes to Physical Science there isn’t much to be found.

Update: When I first wrote this blog post (back in 2007!) I had not yet made any Physical Science materials. In the years since then, I’ve made many so I’ve listed and described them here.

Geography Impressionistic Charts

The Geography Impressionistic Charts 6-9 do contain many physical science concepts and experiments. They are presented in the context of learning about the Earth and how it formed and cooled. However, the Geography Impressionistic Charts 9-12 are more about earth science lessons and geography and do not feature much physical science.

There will always be Montessorians who hold that the original materials from Bergamo, Italy should always be used. In many cases, the Bergamo materials have held up very well over the years (these would include all the Geometry, Botany, Zoology, Geography, and History nomenclature cards and charts), although I have seen articles calling for an update of the Botany material, in particular.

For me, the original Geography Charts were always a mystery and hard to use. My husband (graphic artist), sister (physics teacher), and I (Montessorian) re-made both the 6-9 and 9-12 Geography Charts several years ago and they have been very well received. All of the charts, explanations, and experiments were completely revised and updated. I was actually shocked at the number of scientific errors and misinformation in them!

Edited to add: a reader pointed out that the Great Lessons lead to studies in Physical Science, and it occurred to me later that the Needs of People lessons throughout History can also lead to them. My point in this post is that once you introduce a physical science concept, whether through a Great Lesson, an Impressionistic Chart, or the Needs of People, there is no comprehensive printed curriculum to use, no nomenclature cards, etc. At this point, the parent or teacher would have to make the work/lessons themselves. Or, the child would have to research it but that wouldn’t be an option for younger children (non-readers).

Studying Forces

My physics teacher sister and I also embarked on a journey to make Montessori-style materials to study forces (gravity, electromagnetism) and other physics concepts. We ended up with a trio of well-researched, easy-to-use charts and experiments: Forces Set 1 – Classical Physics, Forces Set 2 – Electromagnetism, and Forces Set 3 – Modern Physics.

My sister remarked, upon the completion of the Forces Sets, that if she had had them in college, she would have understood physics so much better! We’ve looked around and we can’t find any set of physics information that is as easy to understand and as thorough as our sets.

Simple Machines

We also now carry materials for the study of simple machines. These are the Simple Machines Mini-Posters and the Simple Machines Matching Cards. They really go together so I would not recommend using one without the other.

We have several other materials for studying physics, so please check out our Physical Science category!

Also, my sister and I have blogged about how to teach science (specifically, physics) correctly so you can find those posts here.

*Just so we’re on the same page, I’m referring to study of forces, machines, states of matter, light, temperature, chemical compounds and reactions, energy, and any subtopics that fall under these umbrellas.