“Children are Natural Scientists”: Learning Science in Early Childhood and Early Primary Years

Project Number
OER 16/13 TTW

Project Duration
February 2014 - September 2016

Status
Completed

Abstract
Children are by nature curious and they are motivated to explore the world around them. Their science process skills develop as early as infancy and throughout their informal schooling years. A lack of external stimuli in the environment which allow them to actively engage in science learning may result in them not developing fully in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective aspects. As such, science education at early childhood is of great importance to many aspects of a child's development and researchers have suggested that children should begin learning science in their early years of schooling. In Singapore, science is not formally introduced to the Singapore school curriculum until primary three. However, some teachers do teach science to primary one and two students. In the MOE Kindergarten Curriculum Framework, the espoused views about the roles science teachers should undertake and the learning outcomes of science learning can be found in the learning area ''Discovery of the World''. This is a proposal for an exploratory two-year research study ''Children are Natural Scientists'': Learning Science in Early Childhood and Early Primary Years that aims to examine how Singapore young children (ages 4-8) engage in science learning. The research question and sub-questions we want to address are: How do young children engage in science learning? 1. How science process skills do they use as participated in the science activities? 2. What forms of science talk do they use as they participated in the science activities? This is a first Singapore study that introduces science to preschool and early primary children. The short-term goal of the study is to develop knowledge about ways preschool and early primary Singapore children engage in science learning. Our long-term goal is build on the work done in this exploratory study to conduct a larger scale study with more science activities. The repertoire of science activities can become resources for Singapore preschool and primary teachers. The research findings will become resources for us to conduct teacher professional development courses for teachers so that they may learn how to use the science activities in their own classrooms. The intellectual merit of this study is that it contributes to the existing early childhood science education literature which is mostly based in western contexts and does not contain any studies about Singapore students at these grade levels. The broader impact of this study is that can provide empirical evidence showing the importance of science education at early childhood/primary levels to local science educators and policy makers.

Funding Source
NIE

Related Links
ReEd Vol 16 (2014): An Early Start in Science Learning
NIE Research Briefs No. 16-008: Children are Natural Scientists: Learning Science in Early Childhood and Early Primary Years

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