Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences

Committee

Victor R. Lee

Committee

Colby Tofel-Grehl

Committee

Mimi Recker

Abstract

As states, districts, and teachers work to make science classes more about doing the work of science and less about remembering science facts, research is needed to show what doing science looks like. This is especially needed for the youngest students, since much of the current research studies examine the upper part of the K-12 grade range.

Having been an early elementary science teacher, my work in this dissertation and beyond is focused on making the doing of science accessible to young children. One way to do science is to collect and interpret data – to measure something and make sense of changes in measurement over time. Kindergarten teachers already do this with the weather as called for in math curriculums and science standards, albeit in simplified forms with words like hot, cold, sunny, cloudy, etc. I was curious if the children could understand more complex ways of measuring the weather, using quantitative measurements with the help of a thermometer designed for young children.

Over the course of three interviews for each child, I asked six kindergarteners to show illustrate different temperatures, read thermometers, and interpret graphs of changing temperatures.

Based on my analysis of the interviews, my findings indicate that the six kindergarteners could all read the specialized thermometer and four of them demonstrated an understanding of how the measurements related to air temperature. This work may help with the planning of future science classes.

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