Mental representations of children 4-6 years old about air in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ space



A significant amount of research in the field of Early Childhood Science Education is oriented towards the study of young children's mental representations of entities, phenomena and concepts in the physical sciences. These representations can be proved as powerful tools for the development of activities in overcoming children's difficulties and constructing in their minds new representations compatible with Physical Sciences models. Despite the fact that air constitutes a fundamental physical entity of children’s everyday life, it has been hardly studied in the international literature. In the current paper an attempt was made to study the mental representations of children aged 4-6 years old about air. In particular, we investigated children’s representations about the existence of air in both indoor and outdoor environments. Forty-one children attending a kindergarten in Patras (Greece) took part in the study. Along individual semi-structured interviews, the children were presented with 3 different pictures and were asked to point out whether air exist in the illustrated images. Specifically, the images depicted an indoor room with either a closed or open window as well as an outdoor environment and the discussions with the children focused on the different characteristics of the portrayed pictures. The results showed that the presence of air is identified in a more consistent and stable manner either in outdoor environments or in indoor rooms which however come in contact with outdoor environment through an open window.


Early Childhood Science Education, air, mental representations

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