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Chemistry Education – the Relevance of Innovative Pedagogical Practices in the Early Years

Adorinda Gonçalves1, Olga Ferreira2, Filomena Barreiro2, Maria José Rodrigues1

1Polytechnic Institute of Bragança
2Polytechnic Institute of Bragança and Laboratory of Separation and Reaction Engineering (Portugal)

agoncalves@ipb.pt, oferreira@ipb.pt, barreiro@ipb.pt, mrodrigues@ipb.pt

Abstract

Consensus exists among researchers and academics that science education, including chemistry education, is fundamental to the development of modern societies. Thus, investment becomes essential, from early years, in the education of informed citizens, prepared with scientific literacy competences and able to pursue an active, participative and responsible citizenship. In this context, school plays a major role and should provide chemistry education for all children. As such, it is necessary that teachers are able to meet this need and ensure the implementation of innovative practices, which, according to current guidelines, should be based in investigative activities of practical and experimental nature with a science-technology-society orientation, whose scientific contents are closely related to certain social phenomena (economics, politics and environment) and that meet the interests of children by helping them to explain and interpret the world around them. In this paper, we aim to present a review on the current guidelines for education in chemistry in the early years, that is, in pre-school and primary school, by applying a methodology based on practical and experimental work.

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BG, CZ, EL, ES, FR, IE, IT, PL, PT, SK, TR (Powered by Google Translator)

Comments about this Paper

Your comments are welcome


Date: 2014.06.03

Posted by Antonio Jesús Torres Gil (España)

Message: This publication defends the use of innovative practices based on an experimental basis during the teaching preschool and primary research activities. The interest of this article is that focuses on science teaching children from early age through experimentation and the use of materials and substances that are family, facilitating learning of chemistry based on the context. Makes emphasis on science-technology - society of chemistry teaching orientation and the achievement of scientific literacy of students in order to convert them into responsible citizens prepared. The fact that the publication proposes current issues in which can develop the contents of chemistry with the approach that is suggested is very interesting for teachers. Some of these issues require the faculty a pedagogical updating and constant learning of new discoveries and issues of Science today, essential in the training of teachers. Regarding the use of new technologies are not mentioned explicitly, but it is because the article suggests a teaching based on manipulative chemistry and direct experience and the practical work of the student.

Date: 2014.04.03

Posted by Darina Dolešová (Slovakia)

Message: Publication shows chemistry teaching in Portugal for pre-school education (3-6 years old) and primary school (6-10 years old). Through chemistry education the children should be encouraged to ask questions, collect data, count and measure, make observations, organize data, etc. In the early years, children have to learn to see the world in a scientific way and Chemistry is the right subject because offers possibility to connect science and society and science and “everyday life”. The structure of publication is:
• the guidelines implemented in Portugal to promote training in chemistry from nursery and primary school;
• the importance of a methodology based on experimental and practical work;
• an orientation based on the science - technology - society (STS) relation;
• the awareness of the role of chemistry in daily life.
Current guidelines in science education privilege the Science-Technology-Society approach, it seems necessary that all practicing teachers should be trained to science teaching with STS-orientation. The authors support that chemistry education through investigative activities will help children to dare to learn and innovate, to be autonomous, to learn to cooperate with others and fully exercise citizenship. Publication is very helpful and consistent with the Project Chemistry is All Around Network mission

Date: 2014.04.01

Posted by Abdullah Anıl HOŞBAŞ (Turkey)

Message: The paper presents progressive pedogogical methods for early years ( 3-6 years old and 6-10 years old ) chemistry teaching in portugal. Society can vary time to time, because of this, education system should accommodate to its necessities. So, new pedogogical methods are very important for chemistry education. The author presents the effective teaching methods based on practical and experimental work. We can teach effectively a lot of topic with practical and experimental work. These methods will develop self esteem of students, and thinking abilities. İf we want to raise well equipped students, We must focus on more student based methods in education.

Date: 2014.04.01

Posted by Erdem HAREKET (Turkey)

Message: Students’ motivation more important than a lot issues to learning Chemistry This condition is made by a lot different elements. Howewer according to me, the most significant reason is negative image of chemist. For this reason, we must present that inquiry-type experiments for students who have negative attitudes. İn this context, we can see that approach of this paper so important. Because we know that the higher the motivation of a class is provides the lot of important learning. In additionally, thanks to this article we can understand experiences outside of school of students seriously subject in chemistry learning process. Fort this reason we should be consciously about inquiry-type laboratory. Because we know that this approach make important ascent the motivation of students. Finally, I think that this paper very useful and has valuable points.

Date: 2014.03.29

Posted by Katerina Paschalidou (Greece)

Message: This paper refers to the chemistry teaching in Portugal for pre-school education (3-6 years old) and primary school (6-10 years old). The authors connect chemistry education (as a part of science education) with the development of modern societies. Through chemistry education the children should be encouraged to ask questions, collect data, count and measure, make observations, organize data, etc. Since, current guidelines in science education privilege the Science-Technology-Society approach, it seems necessary that all practicing teachers should be trained to science teaching with STS-orientation. The authors support that chemistry education through investigative activities will help children to dare to learn and innovate, to be autonomous, to learn to cooperate with others and fully exercise citizenship. The paper also highlights some issues that can be developed in pre-school and primary school using the practical and experimental work, such as dissolution, viscosity of liquids, food constituents, paper recycling, etc.
I found this paper interesting and I believe it is great to start chemistry education from the early years of the kids but I also found it very general. It could be more specific if a few practical/experimental activities based on the STS approach would be described. The paper refers to such resources but they are available only in Portuguese.

Date: 2014.03.25

Posted by James Ring (Ireland)

Message: This short paper raises some very important points with regard to Chemistry education: in fact some education systems would consider them revolutionary. The authors suggest that Chemistry as a subject should be incorporated in pre-school and early school curricula. However, the word Chemistry is not necessary implicit in the curricula. As in Ireland and other countries Chemistry would be a component of the more 'friendly' Nature and Environment, or Materials sections of the early years curricula. The real challenge would be to call the subject Chemistry to make students and teachers more aware of the depth and relevance of the subject to Science Technology and Society. It would also introduce a chemical vocabulary at an early stage of the educational process that might make the subject less intimidating in future.
As well as language and knowledge the opportunity would also present to establish a scientific method of thinking and experimenting. There are a plethora of activities that would require little investment in terms of equipment and technical support, or indeed in pedagogical training of teachers of these younger age groups. The Portugese government has provided resources and guidance to encourage a planned approach to developing investigative and experimental skills as well as appreciation of science from the early years. This is to be commended and hopefully will continue.
No reference is made to the role of ICT in this initiative but it must surely be of some assistance and support.

Date: 2014.03.24

Posted by Maria João Melo (Portugal)

Message: The paper summarizes the importance of hands-on experiments as ways to share with young children the scientific perspective and how it may contribute to a better understanding of our world. This understanding is, in turn, necessary for a democratic society in which citizens may understand and discuss governmental choices that impact on the environment and human health.
The paper is well structured, the English reading is clear and the subject is of great interest. However, I would have appreciated to see the subjects that are proposed as "innovative learning" developed more in-depth. Or at least, one could have been presented as a case study. This would have enabled the reader to better enact the experiment and its relevance in the classroom.
I have started the reading of the paper in English, but preferred to switch to Portuguese to read it in the native speaking language of the authors. I soon realized that the Portuguese version was a "translation", but a very crude one. As it stands now, it is full of grammar errors that in many cases make difficult the understanding of full sentences. I don't think I should have described it as a translation; a tentative translation is a more correct designation. If this is to be a kind of "google translation" then it should me made clear in the webpage. I would strongly recommend to: 1) undertake a thorough edit of all-tentative "google translations"; OR 2) remove them. They are far more damaging as they stand, full of errors, than if they do not exist.

Date: 2014.03.17

Posted by Lia Zunino (Italy)

Message: The paper is relevant because is about teaching of science in the early years, pre-school and primary school. Chemistry is present in the Portuguese curriculum guidelines for pre-school education (3-6 years old) and for primary school (6-10 years old).
In the early years, children have to learn to see the world in a scientific way and Chemistry is the right subject because offers possibility to connect science and society (think to the last century’s changes) and science and “everyday life”.
The paper suggests some topics in the chemistry field that can be developed in the early years: dissolution, viscosity of liquid, food constituent, paper recycling, global warming, mixing colours, pH indicators…
Of course, methodologies should be based on practical and experimental activities, the only ones able to engage and motivate children.
But to obtain this purpose, we have to work and invest (in Portugal as well as in Italy) on initial and in-service training of teachers, to improve their methodological approach but also their Chemistry knowledge.

Date: 2014.03.07

Posted by Luiza Wezyk (Poland)

Message: The document presents innovative pedagogical practices used in the early years chemistry education in Portugal. First, the authors define a context by description of Portuguese specifics and list priorities in the country. I think that potential differences are neglible so thesis of the authors are easy to generalize. The paper is relevant because it points out precisely requirements which appear with chemistry learning, from the both points of view: a teacher and a student. They can be satisfy by Science-Technology-Society (STS) approach. Practical and experimental activities which are the most important part of the approach are not described in the document but it includes many references to related work where the activities are discussed. Legal framework and some examples of innovative practices are presented similarly, so the document has very concise form. The authors try to avoid repeating information from other sources and they only point them out in the references. It would be treated as a starting point to explore issues connected to both Portuguese specifics and new approaches in chemistry learning more generally. From this point of view the document is very helpful and consistent with the Project Chemistry is All Around Network mission. The conclusions which summarize the paper seem a little too general and obvious, I expect something more unique here. This minor inconvenience does not affect my positive assessment of the document.

Date: 2014.03.05

Posted by Caterina Bignone (Italy)

Message: The publication presents:
· the guidelines implemented in Portugal to promote training in chemistry from nursery and primary school;
· the importance of a methodology based on experimental and practical work;
· an orientation based on the science - technology - society (STS) relation;
· the awareness of the role of chemistry in daily life.
The publication is relevant because it focuses attention on the need to cultivate in children, from an early age, passion and interest in science, stimulating their curiosity and desire to learn through an experimental methodology, with the manipulation of objects made of materials that are the result of chemical transformations that can be observed and / or play in everyday experience. The purpose is not to teach concepts, but to promote the acquisition of a scientific and experimental approach based on observation, introduction of changes, collection and evaluation of data.
The authors emphasize the one hand the central role of chemistry in today's society, on the other the need to train people to be aware of the risks and the benefits that this entails. This is possible through the formation of a scientific approach to reality from the earliest years of life. To achieve this goal in Portugal, the Ministry of Education (2008-2009) has developed policies to support science education in pre-school and primary school, has compiled documents in order to indicate the role of the educator in school of 'childhood and of the teacher in primary school, has invested in the production of educational resources aimed at the design and implementation of chemical activities.
The publication indicates Circular No. 17/DSDC/DEPEB/2007 for kindergarten, and the program "Studio Environment" for primary school, as reference documents for teachers, giving guidance on methodological path to follow. In addition, numerous bibliographic notes at the end of the publication can be useful for professional development.
As a primary school teacher I found very useful the examples, listed in the publication of chemical issues that can be developed in pre-school and primary school, using the practical and experimental work.

Date: 2014.03.04

Posted by Ilaria Rebella (Italy)

Message: The paper describes how innovative practices, based on investigative activities of practical and experimental nature with a science-technology-society orientation (STS), meet the interests of children since the early years of pre-school and primary school, by helping them to explain and to interpret the world around them. Therefore, it is necessary to develop initiatives to provide training to all practicing teachers on science teaching, with STS-orientation
This paper is relevant because it highlights how the changing demands of society require new goals and instructional strategies for teaching science and how this type of education should begin in the early years of pre-school and primary school, through practical and experimental activities.
Research shows that educators emphasize chemistry as the area less focused on topics / concepts covered in the pre-school "knowledge of the world", so the authors argue that initial and in-service training of teachers and educators should address this issue by providing knowledge and methodologies that enable them to develop innovative didactical and pedagogical practices of chemistry and a relevant scientific domain for the scientific training of children.
Current guidelines in science education privilege the Science-Technology-Society (STS) approach and seek the education of responsible and informed citizens. Since the training of educational agents is a major route to promote science education, it is necessary to develop initiatives to provide training to all practicing teachers on science teaching, with STS-orientation. Additionally, it is imperative that science teachers, and particularly chemistry teachers, reflect on the nature of the fields they teach and on their own perspectives and teaching practices The work shows how the current guidelines give priority to the Science-Technology-Society (STS) approach for science education and how look for the education of responsible and informed citizens. It notes that the training of educational agents is an important pathway to promote science education. It therefore calls for all teachers who practice the teaching of science have access to initial and in-service training according to an STS-orientation. In addition, it says that it is essential that science teachers, particularly teachers of chemistry, reflecting on the nature of the fields they teach and their perspectives and teaching practices.
The paper proposes a learning path since pre-school and primary school to develop scientific thinking and reasoning through four steps: (i) how to define the questions-problems to be studied, (ii) how to conceive the planning of procedures to be adopted, (iii) how to analyse the collected data and establish the conclusions, and (iv) how to set out new issues to explore later, via experiments or not, in order to cope with secondary school level concepts gradually more complex and the most recent findings in the field of chemistry.
The paper proposes the use of a Science-Technology-Society approach, but does not identify a resource ICT in particular, rather provides general guidelines.
The document is interesting because it focuses on the fundamental goals of science learning and modern teaching methods to achieve them. It identifies many topics that can be developed in pre-school and primary school, using the practical and experimental work, for example:
 _viscosity of liquids;
 _food constituents (biomolecules);
 _paper recycling;
 _global warming;
 _water treatment station;
 _mixing colours;
 _pH indicators
 _…
Such activities aim to show how chemistry is present in contents often worked in other fields of knowledge, in other situations, contents from scientific and technological areas are included (food, medicines or atmospheric contamination) to illustrate different aspects of the practical application of chemistry with immediate impact on our way of life.
According to me, this approach to the sciences related to the reality that surrounds us can be very motivating for the kids and the manipulation of materials and practical experiences provide the opportunity to build the scientific concepts on a common experiential base.

Date: 2014.03.04

Posted by Marcela Grecová (Czech republic)

Message: The paper present a review on the current guidelines for education in chemistry in the early years, that is, in pre-school (3-6 years old) and primary school (6-10 years old), by applying a methodology based on practical and experimental work.
I fully agree with idea that children should learn science in the early years - to view the world in a scientific way, they should be encouraged to ask questions about nature and seek answers, collect data, count and measure, make observations, organize data, dialogue with others and reflect on everything they observe. There are many issues that can be developed in pre-school and primary school. The paper shows some examples of that (dissolution; viscosity of liquids; food constituents; paper recycling and many other).
I really wonder, that Portuguese Ministry of Education support science education in pre-school and primary schools, investing in the production of learning resources such as brochures that include science activities (chemistry included).
I think that science education of small children is not supported enough in the Czech republic. Lifelong learning of pre-school and primary school teachers and bigger support from the Ministry of Education would be helpful to change it.

National Reports on successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry The national reports on chemistry successful experiences to promote lifelong learning for chemistry are now available on the related section of the project portal. The reports presents examples of successful experiences in the partner countries and the results of testing of ICT resources with science teachers.

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