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When faced with an outpouring of questions, teachers and parents are actually ambivalent at best.

Taking STEM Outside the Classroom

These different teacher attitudes impact upon the ways questioning is encouraged or discouraged during school or nursery time. Of interest here is a mode of questioning that focuses on empirical work, those questions that can lead to investigation, experiment and some resolution. So, our tack is that inquiry-based learning, manifest within the three ingredients above, is vastly important not solely because it allows entry into science, but because it works powerfully well across different disciplines.

Second, there are many more processes entailed within science that also need to be encouraged before it can appropriately be called science. A scientist by definition is naturally an inquirer, but an inquirer need not necessarily be a scientist. According to Chin and Kayalvizhi and Arnold , a good investigative question requires learners to generate and collect data for a selected pathway; represent, analyse and interpret their findings using the data collected; draw a conclusion using their results and justify their findings to the question based on the data they have collected.

Chin and Kayalvizhi further suggest that in order to fully engage children and sustain their interest, these questions should be conceptually challenging, meaningful and relevant to their personal experiences, while remaining broad enough to enable critical and creative thinking.

That said, Walsh and Sattes make the point that formulating investigative questions is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught in early years and beyond. The anthropologist Desmond Morris sees curiosity, inquisitiveness, as an essential human trait:. We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species. Morris, , p. Ethologist that he is, Morris has long understood play — his own and that of others — as a set of behavioural patterns the human animal shares with many other species.

Particularly in early childhood, he and other students of animal behaviour have argued that play is vital to the acquisition of complex skills. The kitten pouncing on a ball of yarn, for example, learns behaviours necessary to hunt well before survival depends on the outcome. For most species, play primarily occurs early in life. But humans exceed cats and, indeed, all other playful animals. In our species the evolutionary development of neoteny , which involves the retention of juvenile physical characteristics in mature individuals, has also prolonged the play impulse well into adulthood.

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. This means that exploratory behaviours, driven by curiosity for the novel and pursuit of the effective, do not disappear with childhood or youth, but persist, especially in the play-like endeavours of art and science.

Play must involve pleasure: When play becomes tedious, is imposed or required, then it ceases to be play. When the fun ends, players become disillusioned, frustrated and bored — one can signal an end to play by simply leaving the play-setting, leaving behind any budding science. Hughes , p. But just having the ability to guess is not enough; one has to come up with the right answer — and somewhat before the competition does. Scientists and engineers not only play at outguessing one another Petroski, , but they also play with toys.

In fact, many scientists like Chris amuse themselves by tinkering with the various toys of their trade, coming up with ingenious serendipitous devices to get a particular job done or divert a piece of commercial equipment from its original purpose for novel scientific uses Roberts, They are often the ones who played with chemistry sets, construction toys, Meccano, bug-hunter kits, microscopes and telescopes in early childhood. It is increasingly well established that construction experiences with blocks and other manipulative toys provide an experiential base for children to build mechanical understanding.

But young children are capable of much more than experiencing the forces of gravity and laws of friction while building; they also can form theories about how and why their buildings stay up or fall down. The teacher selects the materials and stages the creative environment, a staging that may include exploring materials alongside the children, without interfering with their own exploration.


Children shake a sealed can. They weigh it, listen to the sounds and try to guess what materials or objects are contained inside. In one early setting, the teacher created an enormous beanstalk in the corner of the class that appeared to continue onward up through the ceiling. Apparently Jack had climbed the beanstalk and was now trapped up there somewhere, with no clear way down.

But is it science?

The children had to devise mechanisms by which Jack could return to Earth relatively safely, and they tested soft-landing systems, parachutes, slides and the like. But a worse calamity: The children were tasked with finding the coins in the sand and then checking to see that they had recovered it all. Scientific inquiry is not unbounded, but rather is corralled by a desire to fit into the particular developing self-consistent worldview, that is, the current scientific paradigm. A key feature of this paradigm is the repeatability of results and the use of mathematics as a consistent tool for maintaining self-consistency.

While inquiry and play are key elements in science, the conduct of science itself works hard to maintain rational contingency: There is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon in which Calvin poses the question to Dad: Rational contingency, on the other hand, aims for consistency in the use of significant and relevant issues, like important ingredients within a game or levels of play: And, while there can be arbitrary leaps of the imagination, these have — eventually — to be tethered back to the evidence available.

So, while superman can clear buildings in a single bound, scientific imagination most usually must be tethered to existing evidence of human capability. There needs to be, generally, clear and invariant outcomes to similar actions, so that there is some predictability in what is happening. An example of scientific thinking in the early years can be illustrated through anecdotal observations of Lily, age 4 years, experiencing her first visit to a city farm. She stood on the lower slat of a wooden fence, her chin resting on the upper bar, staring intently into a pig enclosure for a long, uninterrupted, 20 minutes.

It became clear later that this was time spent trying hard to reconcile this first meeting with a live pig in all its brown, long-bodied, hairy, muddy, smelly, snorting reality, versus the soft, round, pink, cuddly entities in her bedroom and those she encountered in TV cartoons and bedtime stories. One datum point is not sufficient to identify a pattern, or to decide what is or is not interesting or exceptional. Signal-to-noise ratio is a term derived from communication systems engineers, and used to describe the degree of usefulness found in information, the ratio of useful information to useless information in any given statement.

Lily was calculating the ratio on this city farm. The process of reducing to the impossible, disproving an argument by showing the absurdity of following it through to a logical conclusion, is as old as Aristotle, used throughout history in both formal and philosophical and scientific reasoning.

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The table below relates particularly to the teaching and learning of junior chemistry. This latter point is crucial because, as Driver, Guesne, and Tiberghien , p. The key question, of course, is the extent to which any of these bear relation to young children in early settings. Akerson, Buck, Donnelly, Nargund-Joshi, and Weiland make the clear point that children as young as kindergarten are developmentally capable of conceptualizing science like this when it is taught to them.

Where the teacher has a strong grasp of scientific thinking, then children can follow suit. There are several points to make in summary. First, not all young children will become scientists like Peter, Jane and Chris. And, for those of us interested in the development of older scientists from the young, this is an area of considerable interest. Second, science education is not science.

But is it science?

The practice of inquiry is a way of thinking, of processing, of operating in the world. For us, it is essential to have an initial curiosity about something, and then a positive, encouraging, enabling, framework within to ask and foster ensuing questions. We disagree with Tifi, Natale, and Lombardi who argue that a crucial ingredient of doing science — the development of process skills — should be taught first in content-free investigations, where more attention can be paid to the spontaneous discovery, elicitation, generalization and sharing of principles captured by authentic problem-solving.

From this starting point, children can move on to content-based enquiry. Questions are intended to provoke thought and inspire reflection. Without such skills, children become prisoners of conventional wisdom and the conventional wisdom of the day. Probing questioning explores the underlying principles, characteristics and possibilities of any given situation.

For children to develop a knowledge and understanding of the world, they need adults who are knowledgeable and able to respond to their interests Louis, , p. Fourth, science is serious play. Pretence and make-believe can be particularly valuable for problem-solving and developing creative thinking, exploration, negotiation and reflection Robson, Needless to say, the role the adult adopts in this is important.

Prior to teaching at Brunel, she worked as an initial teacher education specialist, leading on the chemistry PGCE and the pre-ITE subject knowledge enhancement courses. Work in chemistry with non-specialists provoked her interest in the conceptual processes deployed by expert chemists. Her doctorate, started when she was a school teacher, focussed on overcoming barriers to learning in chemistry. She is currently researching the early scientific thinking shown by children with intellectual disabilities.

Saima is a passionate science teacher, inspiring her secondary school students towards taking up science. As Professor of Education at Brunel University London, Mike supervises a strong group of doctoral students and teaches on a wide range of courses across Education. He is just completing a decade-long project to explore approaches to teaching and learning in university science. Most recently he has been consultant to the Teaching Council of Ireland and external examiner for the National University of Ireland.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Early Child Development and Care. Early Child Dev Care. Published online Dec 6. ABSTRACT Early years science education is not science, but a curricular construction designed to induct young children into a range of ideas and practices related to the natural world. Introduction Allow us to introduce three working scientists.

Questions, inquiry and science At its heart, the scientific enterprise is driven by inquiry at both the individual and the group level. Transgressive play and rational contingency The anthropologist Desmond Morris sees curiosity, inquisitiveness, as an essential human trait: Good thinking While inquiry and play are key elements in science, the conduct of science itself works hard to maintain rational contingency: Cognitive demand Associated skills Classification of materials and reactions Recognition of relevant properties Logical thinking and causal thinking The role of evidential data to generate and refine models and theories, also to assess the suitability and limitations of models in particular contexts Modelling and codifying Using specific words, numbers, pictures, drawings, symbols Quantification Ability to measure materials and energy in different ways Experimental design Identifying and manipulating single and composite variables Direct correlation, proportionality Ability to identify correlation; ability to distinguish correlation and causation; ability to account for causation scientifically Probability in individual entities and populations A sense of the likelihood of events occurring, Energy transfers as a means of bringing about changes in materials Understanding conservation of properties.

Open in a separate window. Summary There are several points to make in summary. Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The importance of teaching and learning nature of science in the early childhood years. Journal of Science Education and Technology , 5 , — Context and its role in posing investigative questions. Paper presented at the sixth international forum for research on statistical reasoning, thinking and literacy, Brisbane, Australia.

Reading, writing, and science beyond the classroom walls. Role of context in social networks. Science in early childhood. Places have both natural and cultural histories, which therefore lend themselves to examination by all disciplines. Field experiences and research are at the core of many of the natural and social sciences.

The sciences have something to teach the humanities because field experiences are such a core component of their methodology. For more information on place-based learning, see our Place-Based and Project-Based Learning teaching guide.

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Teaching Outside the Classroom Print Version b y Lily Claiborne, John Morrell, Joe Bandy and Derek Bruff Teaching and learning can become inherently spontaneous and student-centered when moved from the confines of the classroom into the world at large. There are many ways to make learning extend outside the classroom: These tips were provided by VU faculty experienced in taking students on field trips.

Set up the field trip as a research project that includes data collection. Conduct a theoretical examination of the issue in class long before going into the field. Students should have a sense of what the field trip is going to be about before they go. At least two weeks before heading into the field, develop the rudiments of basic hypotheses.

At this point the instructor should give details about the field site so that students know what to expect. If for a large class, prepare TAs well to manage smaller groups of the class.

Research based methods for successful field trips, including specific examples for a geoscience course The Out-of-Classroom Experience by Dave Douglass: Study Abroad These notes adapted from: Gardinier, Lori, and Dawn Colquitt-Anderson. In collaboration with governments, foundations and other sponsors, IIE creates programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals from all sectors.

These programs include the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U. IIE also conducts policy research, provides resources on international exchange opportunities and offers support to scholars in danger. The National Association of International Educators NAFSA NAFSA and its members believe that international education and exchange—connecting students, scholars, educators, and citizens across borders—is fundamental to establishing mutual understanding among nations, preparing the next generation with vital cross-cultural and global skills, and creating the conditions for a more peaceful world.

Journal of Studies in International Education The Journal of Studies in International Education JSI is a forum for higher education administrators, educators, researchers and policy makers interested in research, reviews, and case studies on all facets of the internationalization of higher education. Each issue brings together the concepts, strategies, and approaches of internationalization, the internationalization of the curriculum, and issues surrounding international students and cross-border delivery of education.

Location-Specific Content With the right apps, students can access content that is tied to a particular location and only available when students visit that location. Spanish instructors at the University of New Mexico use an iPhone app from the Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling ARIS project to send students on a fictional murder mystery through the Los Griegos neighborhood in Albuquerque that develops and tests their language skills. Students receive location-specific clues to the mystery by typing their location into the app.

Instructors at the University of Iowa plan to have students use this app to learn more about Iowa City authors and their connections to particular local environments. Students cracked codes and ciphers that led them to particular locations on campus featuring QR codes, two-dimensional bar codes that students scanned with their smart phones to receive additional clues in the hunt.

Instructors can also have students create location-specific content. For example, students at the University of Northern Colorado created a scavenger hunt designed to teach other students about local water rights using the ARIS platform. Data Collection and Sharing Mobile devices have a variety of mechanisms for collecting and sharing data.