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Development Of Scientific Thinking Skills

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Question:

Discuss about the Development of Scientific Thinking Skills.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction:

An early childhood frame work curriculum involves many subjects for developing children’s understanding regarding the same. Science is one of the major subjects that need to be included in the early childhood framework curriculum. Inclusion of science is important so as to provide basic understanding of the scientific concept among the children. The focus on science by early childhood providers is a very right approach to develop the understanding of scientific concepts among the children at early age (Akerson, Buzzelli & Donnelly, 2008). It is based on many factors that need to be considered. The first factor is capacity of the children to learn, it has been suggested that children have the capability to learn faster than the adults and thus making them understand the basic concepts of science in this age helps them to make their basics string regarding the subject. It has also been argued that if the children get exposure to the scientific concepts at early age then it will help them in their future learning as well. Collectively, it is important to include science in early childhood curriculum.

 

Importance of science in early childhood education:

Researchers have explained that many environmental factors affect the learning of the children at their early childhood phase (Reynolds, Temple,  Ou, Arteaga & White, 2011). This is because the lack of environmental stimuli may lead to lack of development among the children. Therefore, science has been considered of great importance for learning and for providing the challenging stimulation the children so that they can have different responses. Several reasons have been established that forces the inclusion of science in early childhood learning. The first reason is that the science is fun for children. Science is related to nature and thus children love to respond to the stimuli that are from their surroundings (Spodek & Saracho, 2014). Science motivates the young children to explore the world. Proper engagement of the children in the science learning helps them to develop the scientific concepts in them, understanding of the world around them and to use the concepts in their day to day life experiences and activities. This also helps the children to develop positive attitude among them regarding the nature and the natural phenomenon that occurs daily. This makes the scientific foundation of the children strong. It is essential to make the foundation strong because it helps them to apply these basic concepts all over their academic life to get advanced knowledge of science. Engaging is the activities like this helps the students or the children to develop their skills of scientific thinking. This may help them in future to transfer their thinking skills to their academic domains and also furnish their base of academic learning (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2011). Science develops curiosity among the children to know about their world and surroundings. In early childhood, if the children get exposed to the scientific concepts, it develops the interest for science amongst them and thus they may take science as their specialization in future for further formal learning of the subject. Science is the subject that is related to the change in the environment (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009). Thus, it is important to develop the basic knowledge among the children regarding their environment. Inclusion of science at early year is focused because at this age, children have the capability to develop their interest. If at this age, they get exposure to science they can develop their interest in the same and can have basic understanding of the concepts that are related to their own life (Hull, 2010).

 

Subjects and concepts of science:

It is very essential to understand the ideas of the students in order to make them learn about the concepts of science. There are various concocts that affect the concepts of the children regarding science. Some of the factors are, peer groups, culture, language, sensory experience, mass media etc. The way any of the children thinks and the way he grasp the knowledge is also a factor that can affect the understanding of the concept. There are various fields in science that needs to be taught to the students or the children at the basic level (Shouse, Schweingruber & Duschl, 2007). The ideas of children about the nature develop their interest in particular field. Biology is a fuels or subject of science that attracts the children who are interested in learning about their own self. This is because biology is the subject that deals with human body at the basic level. Concepts of biology such as teaching the children about the names of organs and different body parts helps in making them familiar with their own body (Mac Naughton, Rolfe & Siraj-Blatchford, 2010).Therefore, it is important for them to learn biology at this level. Another field of science is physics that deals with some of the natural phenomenon that happens all around such as angles, throwing of ball; walking etc. should be the concepts that needs be cleared in the mind of the children at very young age. Chemistry is the subject that is about the natural happenings in the day today world. It is related to the things we touch and feel. It is about changing the forms of the things. Thus, it is necessary to teach the students at early childhood level about the chemical reaction occur in the environment. Other subjects related to science are earth science, optics etc. The concept of children related to science is not much differentiated (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 2007).  It may be possible that children may understand the things differently from their actual concept. Children have different beliefs in terms of living and nonliving with respect to the beliefs of adults or scientists. Some of the young children think that plants are nonliving as they cannot move. This signifies that it is very critical to teach the basic concepts of science to the children.

 

Early year childhood framework science curriculum:

The early year framework suggests that science has three standards of science understanding, science inquiry skills and science as human endeavor. All the three strands of science curriculum are interrelated with each other and also taught in integrated way to the children at early childhood level. From foundation to level 2, students at early childhood learn about the observations ("Policies & procedures: Department of Education and Training", 2017). The students at this stage learn to observe the things and learn about the patterns. The understanding of patterns helps the students to predict about the phenomenon. Now the question arises, what is science according to the early year framework? Science can be defined as the body of knowledge that helps in understanding the natural phenomenon as well as the process of revising this body of knowledge according to the change in environment (Abell, Rogers,  Hanuscin, Lee & Gagnon, 2009). In year 3, the children learn about the effect on heat on solid and liquid and understanding of the energy flow among them. At level 4, children try to investigate the concepts and make prediction according to their understanding of the concepts. At level 5, students are explored with the world of living and non-living things. At this age, children learn to classify a new matter that is gas. Now, at the year of 6, they learn about transformation and transfer of the things in different forms. As the students develop their understanding about the transformation process, the children at the year 7 to 10 learns how to separate the substances from the mixture. They get the knowledge of movement of earth and the relation between the motion of Earth, Moon and Sun. This study of relative motion helps the children to develop their knowledge about their universe ("Early Years Learning Framework | Department of Education and Training", 2017). They can relate to this knowledge as they can see Sun and Moon every day and night. After this, at level 10 to 12, children get to know about the atoms and the atomic energy. They develop their knowledge regarding the formation of this world and combination of atoms. After getting all these knowledge, now children have the ability to develop their own queries and hypothesis to find out their answers. On the whole it can be said that at the initial level of the science study, children learns to get the knowledge of their surrounding world and the environment that is around the children. After this, children develop the nature if imagining things (Zimmerman, 2007). This nature allows them to apply the scientific concept learned in the classroom. The last level is the level of initial skills of scientific concocts. This help the children to develop their own concocts according to their basic understanding of the subject.

 

Conclusion:

Early childhood framework needs to include science as the important subject. They should provide the basic understanding of the science concepts to the students at their early age so that they can make use of it in later stage of the science learning ("ACARA - Curriculum", 2017). Understanding of basic concocts at early age also enhances their interest in the subject and develops their thinking skills that can be used by them in future to implement those concepts in real life. The scientific thinking among the students also helps in generation of new ideas by them and thus makes the scientific knowledge more strong. It is essential for the teachers to provide the knowledge slowly and gradually to the students that help them to learn things clearly. Curriculum should be based according to the age of the students and the difficult level of the scientific concepts.

 

References:

Abell, S. K., Rogers, M. A. P., Hanuscin, D. L., Lee, M. H., & Gagnon, M. J. (2009). Preparing the next generation of science teacher educators: A model for developing PCK for teaching science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 20(1), 77-93.

ACARA - Curriculum. (2017). Acara.edu.au. Retrieved 19 April 2017, from https://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum

Akerson, V. L., Buzzelli, C. A., & Donnelly, L. A. (2008). Early childhood teachers' views of nature of science: The influence of intellectual levels, cultural values, and explicit reflective teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(6), 748-770.

Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. National Association for the Education of Young Children. 1313 L Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 22205-4101.

Cunningham, W. P., & Cunningham, M. A. (2011). Principles of environmental science: inquiry & applications. Mcgraw-Hill.

Dahlberg, G., Moss, P., & Pence, A. (2007). Beyond quality in early childhood education and care: Languages of evaluation. Routledge.

Early Years Learning Framework | Department of Education and Training. (2017). Education.gov.au. Retrieved 19 April 2017, from https://www.education.gov.au/early-years-learning-framework

Hull, D. L. (2010). Science as a process: an evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science. University of Chicago Press.

Mac Naughton, G., Rolfe, S., & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2010). Doing early childhood research. Mcgraw-Hill Education (UK).

Policies & procedures: Department of Education and Training. (2017). Online.det.nsw.edu.au. Retrieved 19 April 2017, from https://online.det.nsw.edu.au/ecmjsp/redirect/?Ref=https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/index.shtml

Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., Ou, S. R., Arteaga, I. A., & White, B. A. (2011). School-based early childhood education and age-28 well-being: Effects by timing, dosage, and subgroups. Science, 333(6040), 360-364.

Shouse, A. W., Schweingruber, H. A., & Duschl, R. A. (Eds.). (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8. National Academies Press.

Spodek, B., & Saracho, O. N. (2014). Handbook of research on the education of young children. Routledge.

Zimmerman, C. (2007). The development of scientific thinking skills in elementary and middle school. Developmental Review, 27(2), 172-223.

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