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Title: Closing the gap: Looking into scientific literacy for early childhood education
Authors: Noraini Abbas
Issue Date: Nov-2006
Citation: Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, Singapore, 22-24 November 2006
Abstract: Many educational and cognitive theorists believe that attempts to teach young children scientific knowledge is doomed to failure as they have not reached the Piagetian developmental stage of formal operational thinking. I argue that this is not the case. Children can learn basic scientific concepts and models if they are given appropriate, well-designed instruction. Furthermore, scientific concepts are a good domain for teaching young children about the nature of scientific knowledge. This paper describes an approach that enables children, aged between three to four year olds, to develop a conceptual model that embodies the principles underlying floating, and to apply their model in making predictions, solving problems and generating explanations in their own way. The objective of this study is to enable young children to construct a series of increasingly sophisticated models for reasoning on the topic of buoyancy. This approach is an integration of several instructional strategies and it is linked to other subjects such as English, Mathematics and Art. Findings from this study will be useful in providing a range of effective instructional tools such as the conceptual change approach, to raise young children’s scientific understandings to a higher level. Furthermore, it could also close the disparaging gap between the different entry points of children’s scientific knowledge upon entering primary schools.
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