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Relevant Science Learning Paths for Preschool - Rochel Gelman

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Relevant Science Learning Paths for Preschool - Rochel Gelman

  1. 1. Collaborators <ul><li># * Dr. Kimberly Brenneman </li></ul><ul><li># Gay Macdonald-UCLA </li></ul><ul><li># Moises Roman -UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>* Dr. Christine Massey-U of Penn </li></ul><ul><li>Jenny Cooper </li></ul><ul><li>Lindsay Downs </li></ul><ul><li>Girlie Delacroix - UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Beth Lavin </li></ul><ul><li>Susan Wood -UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Irena Nayfeld </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Stephanie Reich - UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Zipora Roth - Penn </li></ul><ul><li>Juanita Salter -UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Lisa Travis-UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Earl Williams-UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Osnat Zur -UCLA </li></ul><ul><li>More teachers at UCLA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers and Directors in New Brunswick - mainly inner city, Spanish speaking families. </li></ul></ul>Co-Authors on PrePS book with RG Current Co-PI’s with RG Partial Funding From NSF LIS and ROLE
  2. 2. Partial Funding From NSF LIS and ROLE Relevant Science Learning Paths for Preschool Rochel Gelman Psychology and Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science Irvine Stem Conference Feb, 2010
  3. 3. Three Major Developments <ul><li>The convergence of different disciplines on a shared topic of research interest……. How individuals learn about STEM subjects. </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Development </li></ul><ul><li>Educational Psychology </li></ul><ul><li> Cognitive Science </li></ul><ul><li>and policy concerns about STEM illiteracy </li></ul><ul><li>2. We must teach science in a meaningful and better way much earlier than we have. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Even preschool children have some relevant abstract abilities . (NAS publications. How People Learn , Eager to Learn , Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood , Science book, etc.; AAAS, Arise. ) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Important Lessons from Cognitive Science <ul><ul><ul><li>1. Concepts Do not Stand Alone </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Domains of knowledge are organized - principles and entities of the domain are intimately linked </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Science domains, like any other domain of knowledge involve a set of key concepts/principles, terms, methods and tools. The content is organized by deep principles. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Contrast with Linguistics - Principles that organize knowledge about phonemes, morphemes, words and sentences as well as combination rules. Own intuitions are taken as deeply relevant data about what is and is not in the language </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Lessons Continued <ul><li>2. The mind likes structure and coherence about knowledge and ways to gain knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to attend to & learn more about what we already know, especially if already have an organized domain, where principles outline the domain, relevant entities and the combination of these. </li></ul><ul><li>True, even when available structure is skeletal, because …... </li></ul><ul><li>Learners are active participants in their own learning, Existing knowledge structures bias attention and to the class of relevant data. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Warning …. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Need to take into account what is known </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Inputs may not be interpreted as intended </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>— Absence of existing knowledge domain spells trouble for learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For example: math learning lesson US and Japan (J. Stigler et al.) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Science in Preschool? <ul><li>Yes, yes, and yes !!! </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are ready- - strong exploration and questioning inclinations; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>active learners; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>have some science relevant organized knowledge. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So, can have the goal of everyone liking to learn science -- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>boys and girls, poor and not poor, first generation or 6th generation, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. How Can THAT Be !? After all, for a very long time Pre-K and K’s said to be: 1. perception-bound 2. without the ability to form abstract concepts 3. absent the requisite conceptual format …… .. For abstract thoughts
  8. 8. Partial Reply <ul><li>A natural tendency to explore, often a given object over and over again </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions - lots and often repeatedly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>76/hour </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No one denies these. But claim is that it not about understanding science. Not enough for understanding and doing science </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Domain of Science <ul><li>The Methods and Content of Science are Interrelated . </li></ul><ul><li>Observe and explore; develop amplifiers </li></ul><ul><li>Predict and Observe (Check); induction or deduction </li></ul><ul><li>Record - enter date as well as….. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare and Contrast - start experiment </li></ul><ul><li>Relate all above to existing knowledge & search for or test of deep principles about the world </li></ul><ul><li>Eventually use numbers and mathematics </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Role of Observation in the Development of Science <ul><li>Giants of the Renaissance related their observations to conclusions that started modern science. </li></ul><ul><li>Observations were not neutral - were focused . </li></ul>
  11. 11. Galileo From :commons.wikimedia.org
  12. 12. Galileo’s Drawings of Different Phases of the Moon with Telescope that he Made
  13. 13. Galileo’s Observations <ul><li>Were informed </li></ul><ul><li>He was an artist and an excellent draftsman </li></ul><ul><li>He made a telescope - having heard about this device </li></ul><ul><li>Concluded that Copernicus, and not Ptolemy was correct. </li></ul><ul><li>Got in a lot of trouble. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Trouble
  15. 15. Andreas Vesalius- (1514-1564): Started Anatomy Vesalius, A. and Kalkar, J.S. (1538). Tabulae Anatomica, P.D. Bernardi, Venice.
  16. 16. Some Relevant Research with Preschoolers .
  17. 17. Causal Reasoning Baillargeon and Gelman Also, M. Bullock, S.Gelman, Gopnik, Saxe, Opfer, DuBois, etc. 3-and 4-yrs olds’ correctly predict the effect of relevant and irrelevant changes in “initial’ cause and mechanism as to whether “Fred” will fall.
  18. 18. The Animate-Inanimate Distinction Also R. Baillargeon, S. Carey, S. Gelman, Hatano and Inagaki, Leslie, Opfer, E.S. Spelke, etc Different sources of “energy”, stuff, and interaction potential: 1. Animate’s - from within and ‘biological material and internally determined organization 2. Inanimate’s -from external agent, and man-made or inert.
  19. 19. Brenneman and Gelman
  20. 20. Uphill-downhill Stimuli in Massey & Gelman Animate - like inanimates Animates
  21. 21. <ul><li>A mature understanding of biological phenomena includes awareness that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Living things grow and change over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals maintain their identity across </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>these changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offspring are of the same species as their </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>parents </li></ul></ul>Children’s Biological Concepts
  22. 22. <ul><li>Young children have an intuition that offspring resemble their parents (Springer, 1992). </li></ul><ul><li>However, whether they readily understand the biological nature of inheritance is debatable (Solomon et al., 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Like knowledge of plants, preschoolers’ understanding of kinship relations is somewhat fragile </li></ul>Biological Concepts: Parent-Offspring Relations
  23. 23. <ul><li>4- & 5-yr olds, are quite good at attributing life status to animate entities and denying life status to nonliving entities (Opfer & Siegler, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>By 5-years of age most children know that plants and animals share many biological capacities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reproduction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Death </li></ul></ul>Biological Concepts: Plants
  24. 24. More Research Background Natural Number Arithmetic- Lots and lots of people Distinguish between drawing and writing - Landsmann-Tolchinsky, Levin, Brenneman, Massey et al; Learn words very fast if know something about how to use them. . (6-9 words a day). Carey, Lipton, Markman, S. Gelman, etc., etc Adjust communications for different listeners. Shatz, etc. Take to technology with ease -- example of “trash”
  25. 25. Opportunities to Make Observations <ul><li>1) First level - near beginning of program </li></ul><ul><li>pass apple in group time: </li></ul><ul><li>2) Ask each child to make an observation </li></ul><ul><li>- encourage idea that there are different ones </li></ul><ul><li>3) Record </li></ul><ul><li>4) Predict and check insides </li></ul><ul><li>5) Record </li></ul>
  26. 26. Taking Preschoolers onto Science Learning Pathways <ul><li>Many preschoolers can learn a list of human senses </li></ul><ul><li>Not same as differentiating kinds of information from different senses </li></ul><ul><li>Overestimate information available with eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Don ’ t recognize specific strengths / limitations of each sense (e.g., can ’ t tell the color with touch) </li></ul><ul><li>Need to work on ideas about observations </li></ul>
  27. 27. Initial Step on Observations <ul><li>During group time, pass around apple </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce topic - about making observations with eyes, nose, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Each child has a turn </li></ul><ul><li>Write each answer and post these </li></ul>
  28. 28. More - repeat former <ul><ul><li>When ready, move to predictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is on the inside </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When ready, move to compare and contrast and then recording </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>Introductory Learning Experiences </li></ul><ul><li>make observations using multiple senses </li></ul><ul><li>describe feature-sense links </li></ul>
  30. 30.
  31. 32. More Learning Experiences about each Sense and its Function What’s inside the sock? What color is it? <ul><li>Explicit attention to the kinds of information we can -- and cannot -- get through each sense </li></ul>
  32. 33. Examples of ‘Across the Curriculum”
  33. 34. Growing a Sunflower House
  34. 35.
  35. 36.
  36. 37.
  37. 38.
  38. 39. Growing Plants - Manipulating Variables <ul><li>Two different plants </li></ul><ul><li>Same plant seeds - vary light </li></ul><ul><li>etc </li></ul>
  39. 40. Healthy Plant: “ They have more leaves than the other ones and they have everything they needed” Unhealthy Plant: “ And this is green but it has little yellow spots” A: Lets look at one of these. If you look at this one, how do you know that this one is the healthy one, and not this one? C: Because this one is standing up, and this one is bending down
  40. 41. <ul><li>Mature understanding includes awareness that </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Living things grow and change over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plants, like animals, are living things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals maintain identity across changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offspring are the same species as their </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>parents </li></ul></ul>Life Cycles
  41. 42. <ul><li>Most 5-year-olds know that plants and animals share capacities such as growth and healing after injury </li></ul><ul><li>But unlikely to group plants with animals as living things </li></ul><ul><li>Intuition that offspring resemble their parents (same ontological category) </li></ul><ul><li>But understanding of the biological nature of inheritance is debatable </li></ul>What Children Know
  42. 43. <ul><li>Focus on Plant and Animal Life Cycles </li></ul><ul><li>to highlight similarities </li></ul><ul><li>to support understanding of within category parent-offspring relations </li></ul><ul><li>to follow “individuals” as they change </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Seed- Growing Plant-Seed cycle for different plant species </li></ul><ul><li>Contrast seeds, sprouting, growth patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions of animal life cycles </li></ul><ul><li>Sequencing activities </li></ul>Educational Intervention
  43. 44. <ul><li>Pre- and Post-Intervention Assessments </li></ul><ul><li>Stories in which a character grows and changes over time </li></ul><ul><li>Seed “Dara” that grows into a bean plant </li></ul><ul><li>Caterpillar “Paula” that forms a cocoon and changes into a moth </li></ul><ul><li>Maintenance of Individual Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Is this still Dara/Paula ? after significant changes to the character’s appearance (2x per story) </li></ul><ul><li>High accuracy at pretest </li></ul>
  44. 45. <ul><li>Parent-Offspring Relations </li></ul><ul><li>After each story, a seed or an egg came from the target character </li></ul><ul><li>Children shown two sets of six illustrations </li></ul><ul><li>Set 1 - “ Could the thing that comes out of the seed/egg look like this ?” </li></ul><ul><li>Set 2 - “ Could the thing that comes out of the seed/egg look like this after it grows and changes ?” </li></ul>Ex. Illustrations in Set 1 Ex. Illustrations in Set 2
  45. 46. <ul><li>At post-test only, scores were above chance </li></ul><ul><li>No age differences </li></ul><ul><li>Conceptually connected science experiences support understanding of parent-offspring relations for animals and plants </li></ul>Findings
  46. 47. Conclusions 1, Can teach preschoolers science, of the kind that puts them on a relevant learning path. 2. Can build positive affect for doing science iff - build on what they know and their exploratory, questioning minds. iff - do not treat science as a fact memorization task

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