ERIC Number: ED418777
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
Science in Early Childhood: Developing and Acquiring Fundamental Concepts and Skills.
Lind, Karen K.
Efforts to introduce children to essential experiences of science inquiry must begin at an early age. This paper describes the development of fundamental concepts and skills used from infancy through the primary years and presents strategies for helping students to acquire those fundamental concepts and skills needed for inquiry learning. The paper provides an overview of teaching and learning science in the early years, emphasizing the importance of selecting content that matches children's cognitive capacities. During early childhood, children are acquiring fundamental concepts such as: one-to-one correspondence; counting; classifying; and measuring. They also develop processes to apply these concepts and to develop new ones. Children acquire fundamental concepts through active involvement with the environment. Science content can be introduced effectively into naturalistic, informal, or structured learning experiences. Several examples are given to illustrate the natural integration of fundamental concepts and process skills in mathematics and science. It is noted that the national reforms in science education and research support teaching science through inquiry. Several theories underlying early science instruction, including Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories of concept development, and a constructivist approach are explored. The paper notes the importance of considering the child's cognitive capacity when developing science instruction and maintains that when there is a mismatch, children are unable to extend, apply, or interpret deeper meanings of the content, and their interest and positive attitudes are likely to diminish. The paper concludes by noting that cognitive research has identified numerous misconceptions regarding scientific concepts in children and should be considered as barriers that educators need to overcome before approaching new concepts. Contains 24 references. (KB)
Descriptors: Child Development, Constructivism (Learning), Early Childhood Education, Fundamental Concepts, Inquiry, Learning Processes, Piagetian Theory, Preschool Curriculum, Science Curriculum, Science Education, Science Instruction, Scientific Concepts, Skill Development, Teaching Methods, Young Children
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: National Science Education Standards; Vygotsky (Lev S)
Note: Paper presented at the Forum on Early Childhood Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (Washington, DC, February 6-8, 1998).