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In: Researching Technology Education
In: Researching Technology Education
Author: Marilyn Fleer
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.
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

The trajectory of empirical and theoretical movement towards understanding imagination in play and imagination in STEM has its inception within this chapter. It is through the suite of 3 papers (Papers 3–5) that foundational evidence is built for developing an evidence-based model for the intentional teaching of science in play-based programs. Paper 3 brings new thinking from cultural-historical theory forward through affective imagining, where cognition and imagination are studied as drama. The dramatic moments create a tension that is motivating for children. But Paper 3 does not solve the problem of a child’s motives for learning science, or the motivating conditions needed for learning in play-based settings. It is in Paper 4 that the different leading activity of two children (one to play and one to learning) in a play-based setting are identified. Studying how children with a different leading activity interact during free choice time brings out an important dynamic tension that has so far been unrecognised in play-based programs. Paper 5 takes this further by studying the role of the teacher in imaginary play, and identifying a typology that has implications for capturing, maintaining and amplifying the learning of science concepts in play-based settings.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

This chapter time stamps a period in the development of early childhood science education research. The many chapters of this volume and the republished 9 journal papers collectively lay the historical landscape that led to an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded five-year programmatic study of: Under what conditions does children’s imaginative play promote the visualisation and imagination of abstract STEM concepts? Through a personal narrative of one researcher, this chapter begins that journey into early childhood science education research, and the final 2 chapters conclude the journey by bringing together a theoretical model for teaching STEM in play-based settings and a suite of resources for continuing the legacy.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation
Author: Marilyn Fleer

Abstract

As with Chapter 1, this second chapter examines the historical context in which early childhood science education was developing. But different to the first chapter, the perspective is on researchers in early childhood education. With the spotlight on how economies can prosper when early childhood education is appropriately resourced, greater societal demands for increasing the cognitive load of children emerged. Known as the academisation of early childhood, new policies changed the research agenda and brought forward a renewed emphasis on researching play, but with a twist. With the introduction of new curricula in many countries, the intentional teaching of concepts emerged in practice. Yet the profession was still within the shadow of Piaget’s theory of development where conceptual learning was viewed as coming at a much later stage in the period of a child’s educational life. With this dual orientation to play and concept formation, new theoretical tools and different kinds of research were needed. In this chapter this problem is taken up through drawing on cultural-historical theory. Conceptual Play as a construct for naming the play and conceptual learning need, laid an important foundation for the future research of early childhood science education that is showcased in this volume.

In: The Role of Imagination in STEM Concept Formation