Journal of Research in Science Teaching
Even though children are natural scientists, many preschools isolate and limit science, which can cause children to miss out on valuable learning experiences and school readiness skills. Additionally, minimizing science at the preschool level fails to set a solid foundation for K-12 science education. In this single case study, we focused on the experiences and daily work of one constructivist-oriented preschool teacher who utilized science-based guided play and emergent curriculum as vehicles for important aspects of preschool learning. Findings demonstrate that with careful planning and intention, science can be utilized as a context for nonscience preschool learning objectives outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, such as socioemotional development and early literacy. Further, being purposeful about taking up children's ideas about science can lead to rigorous engagement in the three dimensions of science found in the A Framework for K-12 Education as well as the Nature of Science. What is notable in this case study is that the teacher did not fundamentally alter her instruction, nor did she take up a prescribed science curriculum; rather, she utilized children's science noticings and wonderings about the world to build meaningful learning experiences. In this way, we see the efforts and outcomes of this teacher being attainable by other preschool teachers. From these findings, we put forward the Integrated Preschool Science Framework that can be used by researchers and teacher educators to think more deeply about how placing science at the center of preschoolers' learning can provide rich opportunities for supporting preschools in multiple learning domains.
Raven, S., & Wenner, J. A. (2023). Science at the center: Meaningful science learning in a preschool classroom. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 60(3), 484–514. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21807