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Idea of ‘heat’ and students’ understanding of earth phenomena
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Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, Singapore, 24-26 November 2009
Contrasting to previous studies that focus mainly on discovering students’ misconceptions about earth processes, this study explores the idea of ‘heat’, which emerged in students’ discussion on earth phenomena. It has been noted by many research studies that students’ ideas about natural phenomena are formed through their personal experiences. Students participated in present research also seem to devise their experience of ‘heat’ in their everyday life (e.g. ‘sauna’, ‘boiling water’) to their explanations’ of the Earth’s phenomena. By adopting Gobert (2000)’s protocols on studying students’ conceptions of internal earth dynamics, we tried to classify the ideas about how earthquake occurs and volcano erupts, and to further explore the preconceptions underlying their elaborations on such earth phenomena. This case study begins with a report on the ideas relating to earthquakes and volcanoes by Singapore secondary students (14 and 15 years old). We argue that the idea of ‘heat’ is employed by students to interpret the unobserved internal earth dynamics, which might affect students’ understanding of earth phenomena (e.g., volcano, earthquake).
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