Academic journal article Science and Children

Age-Appropriate Astronomy

Academic journal article Science and Children

Age-Appropriate Astronomy

Article excerpt

I do not think the topic is appropriate for preschool children and probably not for kindergarten or first grade, either. In my view, good physical science phenomena involving movement (as opposed to change) of objects should be observable, producible by a child's action, variable in response to a child's action, and immediate in its reaction. Phenomena that meet these criteria include pendula, movement on inclines, spinning (all sorts of objects), draining of water, movement of water in tubes, and movement of air (by blowing on different objects, using fans, or using a vacuum cleaner with air flow reversed so children can make it go through PVC pipes and levitate Ping-Pong balls, etc.). With materials such as these, children can find out through their own inquiry what can be done with objects and what the properties of objects are. In my constructivist view, these are better activities for promoting children's knowledge/ intelligence than the phenomena of distant space because young children have not yet mastered "near" space.

Rheta DeVries

Professor of Curriculum and Instruction

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

While I agree that preschool children will probably not understand most of what they learn about space, I think that by introducing them to space now will keep the door open for later learning. …

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