Fearless Science in the Early Years: Co-Construction in a Rural Childcare Centre

By Barbara Jordan and Sue Smorti.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since children’s understandings of their environment are formed early in life, it is important to encourage their attitudes of respect and interest during their early childhood education. This paper describes an exemplary programme of “fearless science” in a rural, community-owned, childcare centre in New Zealand, catering, in their over-two year old section, for families with children from 3–5 years of age. Children are viewed as capable and competent scientists; their interests at home and at the centre are extended as in-depth investigations and their development of expertise in science processes is tracked alongside their maturing understandings of specific concepts and larger life themes. The supportive, rural community of learning is instrumental maintaining the teachers’ efforts and the co-construction of science for children. The teacher-researchers documented activities and learning for participants in science investigations, from the identification of interest, to evolving activities and the learning accrued by children, teachers and their families. The importance of teachers’ ongoing development of their own scientific understandings, in supporting the centre and the children’s investigations, is highlighted. The framework for the research report is neo-Vygotskian activity theory, which encourages consideration of all aspects of the community, in teaching and in research.

Keywords: Fearless Science, First Years Preschool, Early Childhood, Co-Construction, Action Research, Activity Theory

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.85-104. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.244MB).

Dr. Barbara Jordan

Senior Lecturer, Early Years, School of Arts Development and Health Education, Massey University College of Education, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Dr. Barbara Jordan is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years Initial Teacher Education, and an experienced action research facilitator with early childhood communities in New Zealand. Her work with teams of teachers aims to empower them to articulate their own philosophies, and to research for evidence of these in the practices of their curricula. Barbara has taught and lectured in science for the Early Years for over 20 years and strongly believes in holistic and multi-literate approaches to supporting collaborative, interest-based investigations. Research and post-graduate interests also include the central role of leadership on pedagogy in early childhood settings, and what happens for children as an outcome of leadership.

Sue Smorti

Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa New Zealand, New Zealand Childcare Association, New Zealand

Sue Smorti is an experienced professional development facilitator working with teaching teams and students in early childhood settings to implement NZ curriculum and assessment resources over the past 15 years. She has a particular interest in the documentation of children and teachers learning which reflects the aspects of curriculum valued by each individual learning community/early childhood setting. Sue also is interested in science and technology education for young children.