INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD OF INSECTS: A DIDACTIC RESEARCH IN KINDERGARTEN
University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This didactic research deals with the teaching in kindergarten of a particular branch of the Natural Sciences, namely basic entomology, which is poorly considered and often neglected in Italy school system in this age range. Two main targets were pursued, one connected to the didactics of science and one related to the psychological area. The first didactic focus proves the possibility to deal with animal morphology (insects, in this case) with 5-year-old children of the kindergarten through laboratory teaching. As far as the psychological field, we assume that the perceptions that children have towards the insects could be changed through learning. Thanks to the increased knowledge of insects, we hypothesized that the sensations of fear and disgust that some children perceive towards them could be mitigated. The research was carried out within a kindergarten of Padua (Italy), involving twelve 5-year-old children, with a total duration of nineteen hours. The focus of the teaching program was on the study of insects, in particular of their morphology, by using a laboratory didactics and the scientific method (observational-comparative approach). We decided to use active methodologies, in order to promote the didactics of skills and to make the students protagonists of their learning process. The steps of the teaching program were: detection of children pre-knowledge about insects; observation of various common dry prepared insects (pinned or glued), firstly by naked eye, then with magnifying glass and finally through the use of the stereomicroscope; an exit in the garden to discover the places where the insects live and to observe their motions; a final group discussion and a time of objective evaluation, self-evaluation and collecting the satisfaction. Before the lessons, a questionnaire on fear and disgust of insects was given to the students and it was proposed again at the end of the lessons to compare the collected data and carry out a Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Thanks to this questionnaire, it has been possible to demonstrate that by increasing the knowledge of insects, the fear that is felt towards them decreases in a statistical significant way, while disgust remains almost unchanged. This non-significant result may be due to the limited number of the experimental samples and, therefore, it will be interesting to propose again a research with a greater number of samples to validate this aspect. This experimental work proves that insect morphology and the interactions of these animals with the environment can be a topic to be developed with the 5-year-old children of the kindergarten. Moreover, it demonstrates that children perception towards the natural world can be influenced by the increasing of knowledge.
Keywords: Animal morphology, disgust, fear, insects, kindergarten, observational-comparative method.