Elementary School Children's Images of Science
Aaron A. Brandes
"If you need an apple seed to get a tree, and a tree to get an apple seed, where did the first tree come from?" This key question about the origins of life was posed to me by a bright, inner-city second-grade girl. Despite her curiosity about the natural world, her insightful contributions to class discussion, and her ready adoption of new concepts, this girl insisted that she was "not good at science." What is her image of science that she sees herself as "not good at it"? What can be done to help her construct an image that incorporates the questioning and curiosity that she, herself, has in such abundance? The underlying motivation of my research is to improve children's relationship to science by helping them construct a richer image of science, one that reflects the world and work of scientists and connects science to their own abilities and activities.
This research explores the ideas and feelings about science of an ethnically diverse group of children in Grades 2 through 6, using drawings, questionnaires, brainstorming sessions, ethnographic observation and clinical interviews. In this chapter I present some findings to date along with the framework and motivation for work in progress. This current effort involves working with children in science explorations. It is rooted in questions they generate and aimed at helping them understand in a deeper and more concrete ( Turkle & Papert, 1991; Wilensky , 1991) way the process by which scientific understanding is generated.