Challenging the Science Curriculum Paradigm: TeachingPrimary Children Atomic-Molecular Theory

Article


Haeusler, Carole and Donovan, Jennifer. 2020. "Challenging the Science Curriculum Paradigm: TeachingPrimary Children Atomic-Molecular Theory." Research in Science Education. 50 (1), pp. 23-52. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-017-9679-2
Article Title

Challenging the Science Curriculum Paradigm: TeachingPrimary Children Atomic-Molecular Theory

ERA Journal ID20613
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsHaeusler, Carole (Author) and Donovan, Jennifer (Author)
Journal TitleResearch in Science Education
Journal Citation50 (1), pp. 23-52
Number of Pages30
Year2020
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0157-244X
1573-1898
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-017-9679-2
Abstract

Solutions to global issues demand the involvement of scientists, yet concern exists about retention rates in science as students pass through school into University. Young children are curious about science, yet are considered incapable of grappling with abstract and microscopic concepts such as atoms, sub-atomic particles, molecules and DNA. School curricula for primary (elementary) aged children reflect this by their limitation to examining only what phenomena are without providing any explanatory frameworks for how or why they occur. This research challenges the assumption that atomic-molecular theory is too difficult for young children, examining new ways of introducing atomic theory to 9 year olds and seeks to verify their efficacy in producing genuine learning in the participants. Early results in three cases in different schools indicate these novel methods fostered further interest in science, allowed diverse children to engage and learn aspects of atomic theory, and satisfied the children’s desire for intellectual challenge. Learning exceeded expectations as demonstrated in the post-interview findings. Learning was also remarkably robust, as demonstrated in two schools eight weeks after the intervention, and in one school, one year after their first exposure to ideas about atoms, elements and molecules.

Keywordsprimary science learning, atomic structure, molecules, conceptual understanding
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390113. Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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