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Fearless Science in the Early Years: Co-Construction in a Rural Childcare Centre. Dr. Barbara Jordan (with Sue Smorti) Massey University College of Education Palmerston North, New Zealand. Science is seldom directly addressed in the early childhood sector.
Co-Construction in a Rural Childcare Centre
Dr. Barbara Jordan (with Sue Smorti)
Massey University College of Education
Palmerston North, New Zealand
Teachers, children and their interactions
To generate evidence of children and teachers being fearless and of their learning science understandings.
The central research questions are:
Teacher access to scientific terms and explanations is easy:
‘Science and literacy are inextricably linked – without personal literacy individual children will find it more difficult to engage with science … the partnership between literacy and science is two way; science offers natural contexts for the use and development of literacy skills and understanding whilst literacy helps to offer the individual access to the exciting and challenging world of science’. Skamp (2008, p. 76)
Thank you Max. You’ve been so helpful.
Parents’ central roles in their children’s learning are demonstrated in the extension of understandings about worms and of wider concepts such as habitats, in which Minnie and her parents engaged at home.
Over the weekend the worms came out frequently, we would tip them into a planter tray so we could spread them out and see them. We used a jug to wet the concrete so the worms could move easily; we noticed that the worms all followed the path where the water had run down towards the grass. Three of them escaped into our herb garden and we watched them burrow down. One worm was taking some time so Minnie wet the ground around the worm and covered it over with a shell; she said they liked the dark. The next day when we checked under the shell the worm wasn’t there so Minnie concluded that it must have burrowed all the way under the ground.
Unfortunately we left the worm habitat out in the sun when we went out on Sunday and when we opened it up there was a bad smell and lots of the worms were not moving. There were a few that wriggled when we cooled them with water so we encouraged them to burrow into the herb garden. We left the still worms on top of the soft soil; Minnie thought they might burrow down if they were still alive. When we returned to check they were still lying on the top and not moving. Minnie thought that maybe the worms could go to the doctor, she said “I think the worms might need anti-biotics, maybe they do mum” We decided that it was too late; the worms had died so we covered them over in the soil.
Thank you Julie for the opportunity to bring some worms home for the weekend. Lots of love from Bex.
Extended understandings in response to research questions
In response to Minnie’s parents’ learning story, the teachers posed some questions for their own research:
“What luck! Last night while reading Jack and the beanstalk Minnie said that "the castle was the giant’s habitat, aye mum"”.
A “transformation of participation” (Rogoff, 1998)
Reification “congeals” a community’s practices, making them less available for critique.
Some of community’s practices are inherent in the “abstractions, tools, symbols, stories, terms and concepts” (Wenger, 1998, p.59)
Action research is an ideal tool for teachers use to identify and address the current relevance of abstractions that served earlier guiding paradigms.
Action research = change based on evidence
Generating evidence of practice is a challenge.
With thanks for their data and for feedback, to the First Years Preschool leaders: Rebekah Cooper, Manager; Lisa Bond Head Teacher; Sarah Graham and Julie Sargent;
and to the remainder of the teacher-researcher team: Michelle Mullins; Casey Gilmore ;Leanne Rider; Sarah Newell; Jo Hansen; Kelsey Newell; and Kristi Withey.
Special thanks also to Sue Smorti, co-Research Associate in First Years Preschool’s Centre of Innovation research.
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