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Sara J. Pereira, Maria José Rodrigues, Isabel P. Martins, Rui Marques Vieira
The Journal of Emergent Science, 1, 23-31.
Researchers, Teachers, Policy Makers
3 – 10 pages
First, a short introduction is made concerning science education in the early years. Relatively to the Portuguese situation, it is also referred how poorly ranked are Portuguese students compared to most European countries, on scientific literacy. It is suggested that to outdo this situation, the teaching of science must adopt new and innovative ways, beginning in the early years.
After, the topic “Pre-school education in Portugal” is developed, describing how pre-school is organized and the curricular guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education.
Three recent important initiatives financed by the Ministry of Education are briefly described:
- The Program of Primary School Teacher’s Education in Experimental Science Teaching, 2006-2009.
- The booklet entitled Despertar para a Ciência – Actividades dos 3 aos 6 (Wake up to science – activities for 3-6 year-olds), 2009.
- The implementation of a training program for kindergarten teachers to prepare them for the government guidelines, 2009.

Two projects were presented and described:
A. Kindergarten Teacher Continuous Education – Contributions for the performance of experimental activities with kindergartners.
B. Scientific Literacy in Kindergarten – a curriculum proposal.
After, the teacher training programme entitled S-T-S Education in Kindergarten – Importance of experimental work is presented (its aims, duration, timetable, participants, etc.). The different type of activities were divided in 4 thematics: Materials and objects; Light; Force & motion; and Living things.
In this work, as an example, the implementation of the activity “Just let me sleep” is described in more detail.
According to the authors, teachers found the training program important and adequate. The importance of in-service training was stressed. Also, the developed activities were considered relevant and appropriate.
Recognizing the importance of pre-school science education, this publication presents a very complete review of the current situation in Portugal and the main results of the development of a teacher training program. The projects described here show the need and importance of continuous professional education to present effective ways of teaching science in these early years.
Instituto Politécnico de Bragança

Comments about this Publication

Your comments are welcome

Date: 2014.04.11

Posted by Jana Veverková (Czech republic)

Message: The paper outlines a pre-school science education in Portugal. Various studies supporting this issue are presented. The fact that Portuguese students proved a poor results in scientific literacy (PISA, 2006; EUROSTAT, 2003) compared to most European countries emphasizes the idea of a new approach to teach science.

The project had two parts. The first one, focused on the kindergarten teachers and their training, met some difficulties, e.g. lack of the scientific knowledge or resources. The second part was the development of practical activities which were used in the kindergartens, one of them described in detail.

The importance of a science curriculum at early years is undisputable and inevitable.

From my point of view science and technological literacy should be introduced to the children age 4-5 but the teaching strategies should be developed for the specialist teachers on the early stage with the application of new technologies available.

I would like to read more about how to teach science to pre-schoolers.

Date: 2014.03.04

Posted by Nadia Zamboni (Italy)

Message: This pubblication describes an important experience of in-service training for kindergarten teachers in Portugal, linked to the relevant role of pre-school education in science
This publication is relevant because it provides a glance on the scenario of teaching in kindergarten school; it underlines needs of teachers to promote an effective change in didactic activities for science education; it describes an important teacher training programme, developed in Portugal (2009), investigating two different aspects related to science education: innovative practices in kindergarten and science curriculum adequate to 3-6aged pupils.
This publication also provides an opportunity for teachers in secondary school to understand the relevance of science education in the early years to develop positive attitudes towards science and it suggests that children could be intuitive scientists from the earliest age with active social participation in activities in their classroom.
In this publication the authors present critical factors and barriers occurring in teaching work, as the results collected from a questionnaire submitted to teachers:
· low scientific knowledge, linked to teachers’ professional and personal background
· difficulties for content adaptations to children’s age
· lack of didactic resources
· lack of adequate area in classroom
The most effective solutions to overcome these difficulties are suggested in a programme of inservice traning, that draws a context in which positive results can come through co-operative work among researchers and teachers.
During this experiences teachers focused their attention on a science curriculum and a practical approaches. They reflected on three aspects:
· what to teach (contents)
· why teach science (science process skills and scientific attitudes)
· how to teach science ( set of teaching strategies).
This way of working allows teachers to:
· understand the relevance of science education in the early years
· (re)construct subject content and pedagogical knowledge
· promote development of effective teaching strategies
About teaching methodologies this publication explains the importance of pedagogical knowledge to support innovative science teaching; in particular it emphasizes a child-centred approach in science education, that is a crucial condition to promote chiildren’s ideas and to enhance children’s curiosity. All the activities must point to a communication phase, in which children communicate to others (colleagues, classes, parents) what they are doing and what they are learning, as well as an enquiry phase in which they can collect more information about the subject matter, with the help of the teachers.
School science, embedded in social contexts and linked to daily lives, is more relevant and more effective to build authentic knowledge in science, since pre-school education.
I consider this publication useful to understand the relevance of science education in the early age of our students. This year we have worked on curriculum from the preschool to lower secondary school and we have found some difficulties to connect curricula between preschool to primary school and on; in this publication I found some ideas on the contents adequate to kindergarten school as well as on innovative practices, based on enquiry strategies, that we can also use in the other levels of school.
I think that a child-centred approach and a social-constructivism environment, supported by the teachers, should provide a meaningful point to link science education through different level; finally I think that only a discussion among teachers, working in team, could suggest good ideas to get new effective approaches in teaching education.

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.