The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation

A Cultural-Historical Journey into Researching Play-Based Settings


Why has early childhood science education taken so long to become established as a field of research inquiry? Why do we continue to blame early childhood and primary teachers for their lack of confidence and competence in science education? This book tackles these questions and more.

Grounded in cultural-historical theory, this book explores the development of the field through the eyes of the author. Over 30 years the contexts, the questions, and the foci of a generation of science education researchers are mapped. As the field develops, new concepts, models of teaching and new methods and methodologies are theorised and empirically supported, bringing forward uniqueness of science education for children in play-based settings.

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Marilyn Fleer holds the Foundation Chair of Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University, Australia. Additionally, she was awarded the 2018 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellowship by the Australian Research Council, and former President, International Society of Cultural-historical Activity Research.
Series Editors:
Catherine Milne, New York University
Kathryn Scantlebury, University of Delaware
List of Figures and Tables

1 Beginning the Journey into Early Childhood Science Education Research: Beyond Alternative Conceptions
 1 Introduction
 2 Beginning the Journey
 3 Concluding Remarks and Future Directions
Paper 1: Children’s Alternative Views: Alternative to What?

2 Conceptual Play: New Research Agendas Driven by Policy Changes for Play-Based Settings
 1 Introduction
 2 National Reviews and Imperatives for Early Childhood Science Education
 3 International Imperatives Shaping Early Childhood Education
 4 Concluding Remarks and Future Directions
Paper 2: ‘Conceptual Play’: Foregrounding Imagination and Cognition during Concept Formation in Early Years Education
3 Building an Evidence-Based Model for Early Childhood Science Education: The Place of Emotions in Science, Motivating Learning into Play, and the Teacher in Play Relations
 1 Big Research Problems Need a Suite of ARC Discovery Grants
 2 Bringing in Emotions and Drama into Science
 3 Motives and Motivating Conditions
 4 Leaping Forward …
 5 Going Back …
 7 Thinking Differently about the Problem: Teachers Inside of Children’s Play
Paper 3: Affective Imagination in Science Education: Determining the Emotional Nature of Scientific and Technological Learning of Young Children
Paper 4: The Demands and Motives Afforded through Digital Play in Early Childhood Activity Settings
Paper 5: Pedagogical Positioning in Play–Teachers Being Inside and Outside of Children’s Imaginary Play

4 Conceptual PlayWorlds: New Model of Practice for Supporting Early Childhood Teachers in the Intentional Teaching of STEM
 1 An Educational Experiment and a Conceptual PlayWorld as an Intervention
 2 The Five Characteristics of Conceptual Playworlds
 3 Conclusion
Paper 6: Conceptual Playworlds: The Role of Imagination in Play and Learning
Paper 7: Scientific Playworlds: A Model of Teaching Science in Play-Based Settings
Paper 8: Conceptual PlayWorlds as a Pedagogical Intervention: Supporting the Learning and Development of the Preschool Child in Play-Based Setting

5 Conceptual PlayLab for Early Childhood STEM: Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship Scheme
 1 Engaging with Social Media – Making and Curating Content
 2 Video Productions
 3 Halfway through the Five-year Period of Funding

6 Agentic STEM Practices: From Role-Playing “As If” Engineer/Scientist to Imagining This As a Career
 1 Mentoring in the Academy …
 2 Building the Legacy and Circling Back …
 3 Where Are We at Now?
 4 Future Imagining in Engineering
 5 Engineering PlayWorlds
 6 Looking Forward
Paper 9: When Preschool Girls Engineer: Future Imaginings of Being and Becoming an Engineer

This book will be of interest to academics in science education.
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