This study is designed to examine the concepts of nature of science (NOS) that K-7th grade students bring into the classroom. A report by the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science states that “…preschool children have some potent cognitive competencies and related learning potentials. These include early arithmetic skills, implicit understanding of cause and effect sequences, pre-literacy ‘writing,’ and some science knowledge.” This study investigated three questions related to children science learning potentials: (1) Are the concepts of NOS part of the young students’ science knowledge that they bring to the classroom? (2) What conceptions of NOS do young students hold, and (3) Does explicit teaching of NOS improve young students’ conceptions of NOS? Children’s conceptions of NOS were measured with the Early Nature of Science Instrument (ENSI), a newly developed and piloted instrument that is suitable for young students. The data were analyzed using pair t-test statistical measure. The main findings were: (a) young students possessed some knowledge of NOS prior to entering the classroom, (b) children’s conceptions of NOS were improved from pre- to post-test administration (t = 5.217 p ˂ .000), (c) young students' conceptions seemed to gradually change as the science summer camp’s activities progressed, and (d) children as young as six years old were capable of learning NOS after explicitly being taught its elements. These findings suggest that today’s young children bring to the classroom understandings of the NOS that may serve as the foundation for more effective science education curricula and practices.
|Keywords:||Explicit Nature of Science, NOS Early Childhood Instrument, Science Summer Camp, Early Childhood|
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The British University in Dubai, Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates