Seeds of Knowledge

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Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1601
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_1601a

Teaching science as a set of accumulated facts can fail to convey the process whereby scientists discovered those facts. As science education experts urge teachers to shift toward a more process-centered pedagogy, the question arises of how early in the schooling process such an approach can be implemented. Smith et al. present the results of a series of lessons in which kindergarten students (5 to 6 years old) actively participated in uncovering the properties of seeds. Instead of simply learning key words relating to seed growth, students took part in a directed discussion modeled after a scientific conference, in which they could share ideas and learn from each other. After raising conflicting ideas over what defines a seed, the students were guided to design experiments in order to test their ideas and reach a resolution. Seeds (and non-seeds) were planted under a variety of different conditions, and students recorded their daily observations, methods, and ideas for future experiments in their science notebooks. A second conference was then held to discuss the results. The conference discussions suggested even quite young children are capable of engaging in scientific reasoning.

Sci. Children 47, 48 (2009).

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