ERIC Number: ED344775
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
An Exploratory Study of the Effectiveness of a Play-Based Center Approach for Learning Chemistry in an Early Childhood Program.
Norman, John T.; Taddonio, Thomas E.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of seven chemistry learning centers for use in an ongoing preschool education program. The seven centers piloted were: (1) Observing Color Changes; (2) Making Bubbles; (3) Using a Thermometer; (4) Balancing; (5) Classifying Colors; (6) Cooking; and (7) Sink or Float. All of the centers piloted were designed for use in a play-based early childhood program, since this was the approach already being used for other content areas in the test site. The goals of this play-based center approach for preschool chemistry were delineated and involved socioemotional, cognitive, and language goals of learning. The average time each student spent at each of the chemistry learning centers was determined from videotapes and was thought to be a measure of one of the socioemotional goals dealing with student curiosity. The class average ratings for the socioemotional goals of autonomy, persistence, cooperation, enthusiasm, and curiosity were determined from the ratings given to each individual student based on teacher notes and videotapes. Cognitive data for classifying, ordering/seriation, spatial relationships, and temporal relationships is also provided. In addition, centers were evaluated with respect to how they encouraged students to identify problems and come up with their own ideas. Language goals were evaluated in a 10-minute span with respect to average number of: questions asked by students; words spoken by students in direct response to the teacher; words spoken by students in response to other students; words of student initiated conversation with teacher; words of student initiated verbalization to other students; and total words per students. Also, total different words verbalized per student was averaged. It was found that all chemistry centers were successful and appropriate for the preschool child with regard to cognitive, socioemotional, and language goals. However, there were important differences between the centers with respect to how well each met delineated goals. Preschool students demonstrated various metacomponents of intelligence when non-verbal as well as verbal data were analyzed. Certain aspects of both Piagetian as well as Vygotsky's theories were supported in this study. The objectives, materials, and procedures for each activity are provided. (45 references) (KR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research on Science Teaching, (Atlanta, GA, April 8-11, 1990). Print marginally legible.