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A didactic approach to andcurricular perspectives ofthe construction of theenergy concept in primaryschool Cristina Marian...
In primary school energy is usually studied using an approachcharacterized by the introduction of different "forms" of ene...
We have designed an approach for primary school teachers andchildren that meets the following requirements:   1. It create...
1. Discipliary frameworkOur approach is based on some simple concepts which arefundamental in terms of their role in the d...
1.                        Discipliary frameworkFor what concerns the scientific plane:•                         Quantity (...
According to this approach, the concept of energy can be built byanalyzing interaction processes starting from the notions...
The energy concept is developed starting from theidentifications of the fall and the rise of the potentials of theextensiv...
The next step is to recognize that there is a balanced relationbetween the quantitative and qualitative variables of the c...
The basic concept of energy therefore arises from theidentification of the "proportion" (semi-quantitative inprimary schoo...
2. Methodological and didactic frameworkEducating teachersIt is important to remember that teachers have come up with thei...
Methodological and didactic aspects present in the energypath2.1 Affective and cognitive involvement. Learning of newknowl...
3. The energy path for grades 4 and 5:   integration of disciplinary, methodological anddidactic aspectsA story provides t...
LESSON 1 (2 hours)  Rupert, the main character, dreams  about decorating his swimming pool  with flowers.  The story prese...
LESSON 1 (2 hours) Worksheet (individual) In your opinion, will Rupert and Aielmo be able to move the car full of geranium...
LESSON 2 (2 hours) Worksheet (individual)  In what ways can the wind move the car?  Make several tests with the fan switch...
LESSON 2 (2 hours)                                  2.3 Narrative reasoning                                        Will ou...
LESSON 3 (2 hours)Worksheet (individual)                                  2.3 Narrative reasoning How can you use the ball...
LESSON 3 (2 hours)Worksheet (individual) Imagine that the balloon is inflated and the exit for the air is kept closed with...
LESSON 4 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherStarting from the list of the answers given by the children, the teacherhe...
LESSON 4 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherStarting from the list of the answers given by the children, the teacherhe...
LESSON 5 (2 hours)The story continues with the characters taking a trip to the mountains.It offers different contexts in w...
LESSON 5 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherThe slides of the story are projected again without the characters’dialogu...
LESSON 6 (2 hours)e children work in groups (4 in total) to analyze the functioning of four toys:  Windmill with a led lig...
LESSON 6 (2 hours)Worksheet (in groups)   Before using the toy, answer the following questions:   How is the toy made?   W...
Crucial point:how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the coursecompared to the conceptual construction.Two lingu...
The vertical scale (VS) from 0 to 5 shows a gradation ofincreasing quality in the language used to express theidentificati...
both entities are related only to verbs of motion (the wind movesthe blades);        the cause of the process is attribute...
The horizontal scale (HS) measures the richness of adescription or the number of elements identified in acause-effect inte...
The horizontal scale (HS) measures the richness of adescription or the number of elements identified in acause-effect inte...
Vertical scale                                                                                                            ...
Vertical scale                                                                                                            ...
compared to the pre-test, “artifact”    questions led to questionincrease in the                      Type of             ...
Verical scalethe “embodied” Type of question and facilitated an                 questions                                 ...
Language level evolution         Cognitive tool                            Type of question and                           ...
Thank youfor your attention!
An Approach to the Concept of Energy for Primary School: Disciplinary Framework, Elements of a Didactic Path and Assessmen...
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An Approach to the Concept of Energy for Primary School: Disciplinary Framework, Elements of a Didactic Path and Assessment Scale

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The SEENET-MTP Seminar: Trends in Modern Physics
19–21 August 2011, Niš, Serbia

Talk by Frederico Corni, Faculty of Education, University of Modena аnd Reggio Emilia, Italy

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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An Approach to the Concept of Energy for Primary School: Disciplinary Framework, Elements of a Didactic Path and Assessment Scale

  1. 1. A didactic approach to andcurricular perspectives ofthe construction of theenergy concept in primaryschool Cristina Mariani, Federico CorniUniversity of Modena and Reggio Emilia, IHans U. FuchsZurich University of Applied Sciences at Winterthur, CH
  2. 2. In primary school energy is usually studied using an approachcharacterized by the introduction of different "forms" of energy:hydraulic, eolic, heat, light, work, kinetic energy, ...It looks like energy is a "something" that can transform or changefrom one form to another.Another didactic approach—less common in primary school—uses thefollowing language: the energy of (in) the battery is transferred to thebulb“, “energy is transferred from food to muscles”.Energy is presented as a “special something” that moves from onecarrier to another (water, air, chemicals, electricity, momentum,entropy...) when an interaction occurs.Whichever approach teachers use, the risk is to convey the idea thatenergy is a material entity rather than a conceptual tool forinterpreting the regularity with which natural phenomena occur.
  3. 3. We have designed an approach for primary school teachers andchildren that meets the following requirements: 1. It creates a continuous link between the interpretation of everyday experience with scientific knowledge; 2. it achieves this continuity coherently by using children’s reasoning; 3. it provides the basic notions that can be later expanded upon, avoiding the use of the word «energy»; 4. it promotes the guiding role of the teacher in constructing meaning. OUTLINE 1. Disciplinary framework 2. Methodological and didactic framework 3. Energy path for 4-5th grades
  4. 4. 1. Discipliary frameworkOur approach is based on some simple concepts which arefundamental in terms of their role in the discipline andelementary in terms of their affinity with primary images inthe child’s mind derived from early experience.According to the theory of Force Dynamic Gestalts (FDG)*,our experiences, as well as natural phenomena, areconceptualized as having the aspects of quantity orsubstance, quality or intensity, and force/power [Fuchs,2009].The mind makes sense of experience by projecting the aspectsof this gestalt metaphorically onto phenomena.Examples from justice:1)I don’t think there is much justice in the world (justice as asubstance which can be much or little).2)I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strictjustice. (A. Lincoln) (justice has an intensity, it can be light orstrong)3)The healing power of justice (justice has a force on humanbehavior).
  5. 5. 1. Discipliary frameworkFor what concerns the scientific plane:• Quantity (or substance) refers to the concept of extensive quantity• Quality (or intensity) refers to the concept of intensive quantity (connected to the concept of generalized potential)• Quantity Quality HEAT TEMPERATURE FLUID VOLUME PRESSURE ELECTRIC CHARGE ELECTRIC POTENTIAL MOMENTUM VELOCITY ….• Force/power is the source of the scientific notion of energy.We conjecture that the concept of energy can be constructed already in early childhood if we
  6. 6. According to this approach, the concept of energy can be built byanalyzing interaction processes starting from the notions of cause-effect, quantity, and intensity. Example In a windmill, the interaction occurs between the air and the wheel. Before the interaction, the intensity of the air is high (fast wind), while after the interaction its intensity is low (slow wind). The wheel is still before the interaction and in rotary motion after the interaction (going from low to high rotational speed).
  7. 7. The energy concept is developed starting from theidentifications of the fall and the rise of the potentials of theextensive quantities involved in an interaction. 2QThe pumping of a certain amount of an extensive ∆ϕquantity 2through a rising potential (effect)occurs at the expense of lowering the potential of anQamount 1 ∆ϕ 1 of an another extensive quantity by(cause).
  8. 8. The next step is to recognize that there is a balanced relationbetween the quantitative and qualitative variables of the causes andthe quantitative and qualitative variables of the effects.Again, the example.A stronger wind results in a higher rotation speed of the wheel.The interaction is mediated through the arms of the windmill, so anincrease of the size or of the number of the arms results in anincrease in the quantity of wind involved and a consequent increaseof rotation of the wheel.
  9. 9. The basic concept of energy therefore arises from theidentification of the "proportion" (semi-quantitative inprimary school) between two related processes, i.e.,between the flow of quantities involved and potentialdifferences (left: energy released; right: energy used): Q1 ∆ϕ1 = Q2 ∆ϕ 2 arms air wheel SYSTEM
  10. 10. 2. Methodological and didactic frameworkEducating teachersIt is important to remember that teachers have come up with theirown epistemology and reflect upon the discipline they teach,primarily on the basis of their professional and cultural experience.Therefore, teachers cannot be assumed to come up with thenecessary conceptual change on their own: they need to be trainedand supported in the change of concepts related to energy.The didactic path for the children must be structured so that it canserve also as disciplinary and methodological scaffolding for theteacher.
  11. 11. Methodological and didactic aspects present in the energypath2.1 Affective and cognitive involvement. Learning of newknowledge is promoted if children are directly involved (affectively andcognitively) in the object of study and if they feel that the newlyacquired knowledge is relevant to their experience.2.2 Concepts are built on psycho-sensorial experience.Laboratory work is central, it has to provide practical (hands-on)activities and opportunities for reflection (minds-on).2.3 Narrative reasoning. The development of the recognition and ofthe correct (metaphoric) use of FDG occurs through the refinement oflanguage use (oral and written texts, drawings etc.). The account ofthe world and how it operates is put in the form of narration.2.4 Scientific knowledge is mediated. There is a piece ofknowledge to be mediated (i.e. the concept of energy) which, at thebeginning, is known by the teacher only. In order to foster itsemergence and its appropriation by the children, the teacher sets thetasks proposed by the story path and guides discussions to let theideas of the children evolve.
  12. 12. 3. The energy path for grades 4 and 5: integration of disciplinary, methodological anddidactic aspectsA story provides the background to all activities. It is structuredin two parts, with different purposes:The first part is aimed atrecognizing the relevantvariables of the processes.It tells about two problematicsituations. In this background,the tasks and the experimentalactivities are inserted.The aim of the second part ofthe story is to guide childrentoward the decontextualizationand the generalization of theconcepts.
  13. 13. LESSON 1 (2 hours) Rupert, the main character, dreams about decorating his swimming pool with flowers. The story presents two problematic situations:moving a cart filled moving a cart loaded 2.1 Affectivewith pots of flowers to and cognitive involvement the down by stones with help of an inflated balloonthe swimming poolwith the help of thewind;.
  14. 14. LESSON 1 (2 hours) Worksheet (individual) In your opinion, will Rupert and Aielmo be able to move the car full of geraniums with the help of the wind? In which case? Explain your answer.2.3 Narrative reasoning Hello! I am Pico. I invite you to do an experiment to help Rupert. First observe the items you find in the suitcase I sent to your teacher. Which items could be used to help Rupert? How are they made? Draw them. 2.2 Concepts are built on psycho-
  15. 15. LESSON 2 (2 hours) Worksheet (individual) In what ways can the wind move the car? Make several tests with the fan switch in different positions and at different distances between the hair dryer and the toy car. questions «artifact» Make changes one at a time. Children are invited to Observe if something changes from one test to observe and explore the another. Write down what you observed. artifact and its functioning Imagine that the hairdryer is turned off. What does the car experience? What does the air in the environment experience? «embodied» Imagine that the hairdryer is turned on. questions What does the air feel passing through the hair dryer? Children are invited What does the air feel coming out of the hair dryer? imagine to identify to What does the air feel when encountering the toy car? themselves with What does the toy car feel getting hit by the air? objects before, during and after an interactionConcepts are built on psycho-sensorial experie
  16. 16. LESSON 2 (2 hours) 2.3 Narrative reasoning Will our friends be able to move the car with a balloon? How? Explain your answer (write and draw)Find the cars and the balloons in thesuitcase.Before you use them, answer thisquestion:How can you use the balloon to movethe car?
  17. 17. LESSON 3 (2 hours)Worksheet (individual) 2.3 Narrative reasoning How can you use the balloon to move the car? Make several tests with the car and the balloon. Make changes one at a time. «artifact» questions Observe if something changes from one test to another. Write down what you observed.
  18. 18. LESSON 3 (2 hours)Worksheet (individual) Imagine that the balloon is inflated and the exit for the air is kept closed with a finger. What does are the air in the balloon experience? What does the car experience? «embodied» Now imagine you remove the finger from the hole.questions What does the air feel passing through the hole? What does the air feel outside the balloon? What does the car feel as it escapes? Imagine the balloon to be completely deflated. What does the car experience?Concepts are built on psycho-sensorial experie
  19. 19. LESSON 4 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherStarting from the list of the answers given by the children, the teacherhelps to find shared expressions and to give specific names to thequantities. 2.4 Scientific knowledge is mediated
  20. 20. LESSON 4 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherStarting from the list of the answers given by the children, the teacherhelps to find shared expressions and to give specific names to thequantities. BEFORE DURING AFTER THE INTERACTION EXPERIME SUBJEC NT T WHAT QUALITY CHANGES QUALITY THE QUALITY Car & AIR fast resistance slow hair dryer experimen CAR still push moving ts SYSTEM Car & compress AIR expansion free Balloon ed experimen t CAR still push moving 2.5 The world is interpreted by projecting aspects of the FDG onto experience.
  21. 21. LESSON 5 (2 hours)The story continues with the characters taking a trip to the mountains.It offers different contexts in which extensive quantities and theirdifferent qualities (potentials) can be recognized.
  22. 22. LESSON 5 (2 hours)Discussion lead by the teacherThe slides of the story are projected again without the characters’dialogues and the teacher discusses with the children to compile asummarizing interpretative table. Situation in the What we High quality Low quality story talk about Stream water fast slow Lake water high low Sandwich food highly nutritious little nutritious Windmill wind fast slow Storm electricity high potential Low potential Walkie talkie batteries charged discharged Rotary saw rotation fast slow Sky light bright dim 2.4 Scientific knowledge is
  23. 23. LESSON 6 (2 hours)e children work in groups (4 in total) to analyze the functioning of four toys: Windmill with a led light Dynamo torch Dynamo torch Putt-putt boat Frog with photovoltaic panel
  24. 24. LESSON 6 (2 hours)Worksheet (in groups) Before using the toy, answer the following questions: How is the toy made? What parts is it composed of? ​ Draw it precisely. 2.2 Conceptsare How do you have to operate it to make it function? built on psycho- Then play with the toy. sensorial experience Assign to each member of the group the role of: •journalist (who describes the functioning of the toy) •technician (who describes the composition of the toy) •scientist (who explains the functioning of the toy) •engineer (who improves the functioning of the toy) The groups, in turns, act in relation do the assigned toy. 2.3 Narrative reasoning
  25. 25. Crucial point:how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the coursecompared to the conceptual construction.Two linguistic scales have been created in order to build aqualitative and quantitative tool for language analysessuitable to link the linguistic change to conceptual evolution. The vertical scale (VS) The horizontal scale (HS)
  26. 26. The vertical scale (VS) from 0 to 5 shows a gradation ofincreasing quality in the language used to express theidentification of variables in accordance with the conceptualframework adopted. In this analysis, we consider that thelanguage reaches a higher level if terms denote variablesand the specification of relationships
  27. 27. both entities are related only to verbs of motion (the wind movesthe blades); the cause of the process is attributed to an external factor (theswitch on)Level 1: agonist and antagonist with verbs of implicit idea of aforce (the hairdryer makes the air move; the windmill is driven by thewind)Level 2:implicit modulation of the agonist and of the antagonist (you could move it by using the force of Rupert and Aielmo; youcan load one vessel at a time).Level 3: use of verbs that focus on the opposing entity in theprocess (one thing that resists is the weight of the pots; the car resists).Level 4: explicit modulation of the agonist and of the antagonist (by changing position there is less air and then the toy car goesslower; if you have weak water, a dam that is not very resistant is enough).Level 5: level 4 + the identification of the potential difference (Teacher: So if it blocks, what does it do? Child 1: It makesresistance, the water loses its speed, its impetuosity because the water slams;
  28. 28. The horizontal scale (HS) measures the richness of adescription or the number of elements identified in acause-effect interaction
  29. 29. The horizontal scale (HS) measures the richness of adescription or the number of elements identified in acause-effect interactionLevel 1s is attributed to sentences with no explicit reference tothe chain and no information on the device.Level 2s corresponds to a series of at least 3 identified cause-effect relationships (hairdryer-air-toy car-motion; electricity-fan-air) and some elements or objects that are related to the device (the current, the fan of the hairdryer, the numerous wheels ofthe gear, ...)Level 3s is characterized by a series of at least 4 cause-effectrelationships and by the evaluation of how physical characteristics (size, weight,material, type of surface, ...) of the structural device can influence the process
  30. 30. Vertical scale Horizontal scale Type of question and (% of cases) Lesson Activity discussion 0 1 2 3 4 5 1s 2s 3s Discussion: which game will you choose to represent the story 53 29 18 x situation? I(pre- test) Before doing the experiment Artifact 54 28 16 x (hairdryer-car) I Artifact Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 8 68 24 x car) Embodied Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 90* x car) Before doing the experiment Artifact 45 55 x (car with balloon) II-III Doing the experiment (car with Artifact 15 30 20 30 5 x balloon) Doing the experiment (car with Embodied 90* x balloon) Describe as a journalist 50 50 x IV Mime game Explain as a scientist 90 10 x How do we make it work? 50 50 x How can it work better? 75 25 x Doing the experiment V (wind mill, dynamo torch, pot- Describe and interpret process pot boat, solar panel frog) in the story (part 2) 75 25 x Describe and interpret sand mill game 75 25 x
  31. 31. Vertical scale Horizontal scale Type of question and (% of cases) Lesson Activity discussion 0 1 2 3 4 5 1s 2s 3s Discussion: which game will you choose to represent the story 53 29 18 x situation? I(pre- test) Before doing the experiment Artifact 54 28 16 x (hairdryer-car) I Artifact Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 8 68 24 x car) Embodied Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 90* x car) Before doing the experiment Artifact 45 55 x (car with balloon) II-III Doing the experiment (car with Artifact 15 30 20 30 5 x balloon) Embodied The data show that: Doing the experiment (car with balloon) 90* x children’s language in pre-test ranges IV Describe as a journalist from levels 0 to 2 on the VS Mime game 50 50 x Explain as a scientist and 90 10 x How do we make it work? It is at level 50 50 on the HS 1s- 2s x How can it work better? 75 25 x Doing the experiment V (wind mill, dynamo torch, pot- Describe and interpret process pot boat, solar panel frog) in the story (part 2) 75 25 x Describe and interpret sand mill game 75 25 x
  32. 32. compared to the pre-test, “artifact” questions led to questionincrease in the Type of an and Vertical scale (% of cases) Horizontal scale elaborateness of answers lying between Lesson discussion Activity 0 1 2 3 4 5 1s 2s 3s level 2s and 3s on the HS.With“artifact” questions referred whichwhileyou Discussion: to game will choose to represent the story 53 29 18 x doing the experiment, we notice an I situation?evolution in language (VS) (24% and 30% (pre- test) of answers are atArtifact 4 in Before (hairdryer-car) II level thedoing the experiment I and 54 28 16 x lesson, respectively); I Artifact Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 8 68 24 x car) Embodied Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 90* x car) Before doing the experiment Artifact 45 55 x (car with balloon) II-III Doing the experiment (car with Artifact 15 30 20 30 5 x balloon) Doing the experiment (car with Embodied 90* x balloon) Describe as a journalist 50 50 x IV Mime game Explain as a scientist 90 10 x How do we make it work? 50 50 x How can it work better? 75 25 x Doing the experiment V (wind mill, dynamo torch, pot- Describe and interpret process pot boat, solar panel frog) in the story (part 2) 75 25 x Describe and interpret sand mill game 75 25 x
  33. 33. Verical scalethe “embodied” Type of question and facilitated an questions (% of cases) Horizontal scale Lesson Activityincrease in level on the vertical scale (II discussion 0 1 2 3 4 5 1s 2s 3sand III lessons) Discussion: which game will you choose to represent the story 53 29 18 x situation? I (pre- test) Before doing the experiment Artifact 54 28 16 x (hairdryer-car) I Artifact Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 8 68 24 x car) Embodied Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 90* x car) Before doing the experiment Artifact 45 55 x (car with balloon) II-III Doing the experiment (car with Artifact 15 30 20 30 5 x balloon) Doing the experiment (car with Embodied 90* x balloon) Describe as a journalist 50 50 x IV Mime game Explain as a scientist 90 10 x How do we make it work? 50 50 x How can it work better? 75 25 x Doing the experiment V (wind mill, dynamo torch, pot- Describe and interpret process pot boat, solar panel frog) in the story (part 2) 75 25 x Describe and interpret sand mill game 75 25 x
  34. 34. Language level evolution Cognitive tool Type of question and (% of cases) evolution Lesson Activity discussion 0 1 2 3 4 5 1s 2s 3s Discussion: which game will you choose to represent the story 53 29 18 x situation? I (pre- test) Before doing the experiment Artifact 54 28 16 x (hairdryer-car) I Artifact Doing the experiment (hairdryer- 8 68 24 x car)Level 4 is maintained in the final experiment (hairdryer- Embodied Doing the 90* x car)discussion (taken as the final assessment) Before doing the experimentwhere children have observed, described Artifact (car with balloon) 45 55 xand interpreted a game without the experiment (car with II-III Doing the help Artifact 15 30 20 30 5of leading questions. In the dialogues of balloon) xthe last two lessons, level 5 wasthe experiment (car with Embodied Doing reached balloon) 90* xonly if children were prompted by the Describe as a journalistteacher with specific questions. Mime game IV 50 50 x Explain as a scientist 90 10 x How do we make it work? 50 50 x How can it work better? 75 25 x Doing the experiment V (wind mill, dynamo torch, pot- Describe and interpret process pot boat, solar panel frog) in the story (part 2) 75 25 x Describe and interpret sand mill game 75 25 x
  35. 35. Thank youfor your attention!

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