SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL UNDERSTANDING Lecturer

SCIENCEAND ENVIRONMENTAL UNDERSTANDING

Lecturer

Scienceand Environmental Understanding

Whenchildren are playing with materials that are unfamiliar to them, theyseem at most of the times to ask themselves many question in theirminds. Some of these questions are what is this thing? How does itwork? How can I work with? Among other questions. The children seemto exhibit some natural curiosity that has made them to be branded asnatural scientists (Chien, Hsiung, Chen 2009, p76). They seem to bequestioning themselves every time they see something around themwhich makes people to compare them to scientists. The curiosity abouthow different things work in the world makes children being seen asthinking the way scientists think. Their thinking and reasoning isvery useful tool that most children bring with it in a classroom.However there is a big difference between children’s observationand reasoning and how children engage in these efforts.

Thestudy of light

Unlikein the field of mathematics, where the topics deal with arithmetic’s,in science there is no agreement on the mode of choosing topics atthe children aged below 5 years (Khine, &amp Saleh 2013, p89). Inthis part, we choose to focus on light as it has several benefits. Inthe first practical, it will involve just simple concepts thatchildren can get to understand by examining simple materials. Forinstance, the sun and our bodies cast shadows that can study as wellas flash lights can be used with objects to cast these shadows.Children can also use light bulbs that are placed in card board boxesto study about the concept of light.

Developingscientifically challenges individuals to conceptualize the aspects ofthe world that we do not experience like the travelling of lightamong others. However, children view shadows simply as objects thatthey see (Tan, &amp Kim 2012, p29). They do not have the capacity tounderstand that shadows are formed when a light is blocked by anobject that stands on its path. A conceptual development will berequired if the children are to understand the concept of light andshadows. Working with flash lights can help children to understandthe concept of shadows as they will be exposed to early experiencesabout how light works in a scientific way. Since casual study of lightcan be misleading, it is important for the children to be exposed tothe scientific methods of thinking. The study of light only supportsthe children simply understand the physical relationships that aretotally different from the scientific way of how light operate.

Scientificconcepts among children are thought of interestingly among children.Children when told to explain about various scientific things bringforth literal explanation. Indeed, this portrays how the childrenunderstand various concepts in their own world (Khine, &amp Saleh2013, p112). For instance, when children are presenting how theyunderstand the shape of the worlds in most cases they would claim theworld is flat. The ideas of the world being round would be a thoughtthey would not have. Presumably, the idea of the world being flatwould be because of the thought that a round world would not holdpeople and things, as they would fall. Unequivocally, a practicalpresentation of a global world would leave the children with theunderstanding of the world as hollow. In addition, the idea ofindividuals living in a flat ground would sink among the children.

Theinterest of the children varies amongst them and physical activities,which are harmless, can provide a good learning experience for thechildren. For instance, if a child has interest in a certain activityletting him or her watch while conducting the activity and involvinghim latter provides a superb learning experience. Some projectsprovide a learning experience to children when they are done ingroups or by individual children’s. Some projects when supervisedby adults and question posed to the children provide a more elaborateexperience to children. Soil and rock activities provide a learningexperience for children, as they are able to conduct physicalexperiments.

LightExperiment

Keyidea:Light emanating from luminous objects continues travelling until ithits a barrier.

Ina light experiment I conducted with a group of children, the resultsshowed that the amount of light emitted from a luminous object is notaffected by daylight and neither is the distance travelled by lightfrom the luminous object (Skamp2007, p4).The required materials for this experiment are a candle, a stick ofincense, and matches. The pertinent questions in this experimentinclude the fact that an incense stick glows dully. But what mostpeople are not aware of is whether it emits light or not. And if so,what is the distance that is covered by the light.

Identifythe concepts within the activity

Theresults of the experiment revealed that a stick of incense does notemit any light but since it is luminous, when light bounces on it, areflection occurs which may be wrongly construed as being its ownlight. This reflection however, only travels for a very shortdistance. The light emitted by a candle or light bulb is howeverdifferent since it is original light and thus travel for a longdistance. During the experiment, two children by the names of Ivy andBridget broke into an argument as to the reason why candle light canbe clearly observed flickering on the walls at night time but notduring the day. According to Ivy, “the light from the candle canonly be able to bounce off another surface when the surrounding isdark” whereas Bridget is of the opinion that “during the day noreflection takes place”. The answer to this question is thatreflection always occurs against surfaces close to the source oflight but is more pronounced at night due to the surroundingdarkness. We can see a candle flame since light from the candle afterentering our eyes is focused to our retina. Our brains then processthe image from the retina. Hence any time we see a luminous object,this means that light travels to our eyes at least. Another questionis why there exists light in a room yet there are no light sources inthe room. This may be due to the fact that there may be natural lightreleased by the sun, especially if it is during the day. Furtherlearning can be done on the children by them being taken outside whenthe sun is shining and they measure each other’s shadow length anddirection to observe how light causes shadows when blocked byobjects.

TheStudy of Rocks

Rockand soil study is not only a geological expert practice. Teachers inprimary schools use rocks to provide knowledge to students pertainingto rocks. Undeniably, theoretically explaining to children theconcept of rock would be a waste of time if practical classes werenot conducted, as many students would not understand. Collection ofrocks is an easy task to children and this provides a fun andlearning experience for them. Young children love to play with soiland this fascination is used to teach them various scientificconcepts. One of the learning activities that can be used to teachchildren is the manipulating mud scientifically. Children are taughtvarious context of rock including the texture, the color of rocks,and all necessary information necessary at the primary levelpertaining to rocks. In the early years, children can be taught howrocks and soils cover the earth by use of practical example. Theshape of rocks can be explained through examples by practicaldemonstration of the rocks to children.

RocksExperiment

Keyidea:“There are different formation methods of rocks, either naturally,or by man.”

Inthis experiment demonstrate the properties of rocks, the requirementswere a collection of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rock,plastic, water, crushed sandstone, sand, clay, and sandstone(Skamp 2007, p11).The different constructions in the school vicinity were observed todetermine whether some of the building materials were manufactured byhumans from metal/mineral constituents and ways in which they are nowbeing put into use. Such areas that were observed include building,pavements, walking paths, gardens, the playing ground, road, amongothers. The next step entailed classifying the ‘rocks’ as eitherbeing metamorphic, sedimentary, or conglomerate. I then used crushedsandstone and water to make sedimentary rock. What this experimentbrought out the most is how various features of the rock samples canwork towards forming construction blocks. There was debate betweentwo of the children namely Ethan and Adrian. “I bet cement can formstronger concrete blocks”, Ethan claimed. On the other side of theargument, Adrian claimed, “Clay is very sticky therefore it canform stronger bricks”. In this test it was quite difficult todetermine which among the concrete blocks (conglomerate) made usingdifferent proportions of sand and cement and shaped using a screenor bricks (metamorphic) made using clay and straw pressured into acast, was stronger.

Identifythe concepts within the activity

Thepertinent concepts here were the various features of the soils, forinstance Adrian believed that clay will form stronger bricks since heonly saw the feature that outwardly reveals itself naturally when itrains in areas where the soil component is clay. However, sincecement does not combine with sand and water naturally, he didn’tknow the effect of such an impact. Therefore the children learntabout concepts such as soil porosity and permeability and how theyaffect bonding of the soils which are pertinent in this study. A boycalled Jack picked a brick and started hitting on the concrete blockto test which one would break fast. This clearly shows that thischild was learning from experimentation. The boy knows that thefaster an object breaks, the weaker it is. Eventually the brick brokefirst. This is a good learning outcome from observation. However,some investigations still need to be undertaken on the how variousratios of sand and cement affect the strength of concrete blocks,there may be some mixing ratios whereby bricks may turn out to bestronger than the concrete blocks. Also the effect of adding suchmaterials as straw to bricks need to be investigated to determine theoptimum amount that should be put so as to optimum on strength andnot to compromise its cohesion.

Senseof wonder and delight factor

‘Asense of Wonder’ is a scientific book written by (Rachel Carson,1984 as quoted in Ormrod, 2012, 114) depicts the extent of delightand excitement that children portray when they see, hear, and feelthe natural world. Carson learns of this fact out of experience whenshe accompanied Roger, her grandnephew aged three years old, to theseashore whereby they had a long session of glancing at the beautifulsight of the land, sea, and sky. This activity, according to Carson,stimulated all their senses. Further research by Carson on everydayintergrational activities revealed that all the child studyparticipants were elated by their grandparent’s companionship whilethey shared the excitement, joy, and mystery exhibited by theireveryday world. Carson had an inner drive and passion on ways tobolster and sustain a sense of wonder among children growing intotheir adulthood, and realized that the best way to achieve this wasthrough emotional and sensory childhood experiences that werenaturally-occurring. Carson established a notion that apart fromsight, senses are channels of delight and discovery, enabling thepiling of memories and impressions.

Carson’sviews are also echoed by Caroline Smith (2010), a sustainabilityeducator who also believes that “Childhood positive experienceswith nature portrays among the most vital factors in cultivating aconcern for nature during adulthood”. She further warns that“Devoid of these positive experiences pertaining to nature, thereis a high probability of children cultivating negative attitudes”.Early experiences with nature and creation of an ecospiritualconsciousness are to a large extent related in that if therelationship is not strengthened early enough, there exist a reducedlikelihood of it being renewed during adulthood.

Belongingness

The‘Belonging’ component during the early childhood years can alsobe enhanced through food gardening and cooking. When children aregiven a chance to feel the soil texture, dig, and cultivate seeds,this greatly contributes towards their learning framework. There is astrong form of connection that is established between the kids andland during their nurturing process of the seeds to plants. Theparticipation of children in these community activities such asfarming endears them towards a learning process that is fuelledthrough learning from the wisdom of elder coupled with shared socialinteractions. According to Caroline Smith (2010), “The learningspace that is created by the adult gives the child a sense ofbelongingness”.

Childrenbecoming their ecological selves

Theeducation system lacks a connection between humans and non-humanelements. Secondly, he mentions that there is a diminishing effect ofhumans as a species since their surrounding lacks a wide range ofnatural phenomena (Tan, &amp Kim 2012, p46). Translated educationwise, if our desire is for our children to live sustainably andembrace biodiversity, them they need to be encouraged and created anenabling environment for them to become their ‘ecological selves’.According to Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, transcending of theego occurs through the direct relation of humans to the naturalworld, hence the self attains a position of deep connection with, andhigh sensitivity to the natural world. There is a significant effectof loss of biodiversity on humans. For instance, I becomegrief-stricken when I notice the tiny blue wrens among other birdsare no longer neither visible nor audible to me, mainly due todeforestation and bush clearing to create space for more housing.Children’s participation in science activities that are ecologicalin nature such as maintaining observational diaries entailing birdpopulation statistics and the frequency of sighting, they can developa birds profile in their surrounding environment. Such an activityassists in their understanding of developmental effect on theenvironment.

References

Chien,S.C., Hsiung, C.T., Chen,S.F. (2009). The development of youngchildren’s science-related concept regarding “floating andsinking”. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research.

Khine,M. S., &amp Saleh, I. M. (2013). Approachesand strategies in next generation science learning.Hershey, Pa, IGI Global (701 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey,Pennsylvania, 17033, USA).

Ormrod,J. E. (2012). Essentialsof educational psychology: big ideas to guide effective teaching.Boston, Pearson.

Skamp,K. (2007). Teachingprimary science constructively.South Melbourne, Vic: Thomson Learning Australia.

Tan,K. C. D., &amp Kim, M. (2012). Issuesand challenges in science education research moving forward.Dordrecht, Springer.http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=973657.