TEACHING THE GENERAL PROPERTIES OF MATTER TO PRE-SERVICE PRIMARY TEACHERS USING AN ORIENTED RESEARCH APPROACH
One of the Big Ideas of Science that should be part of the basic scientific education of people is that all things are made of atoms and molecules, in spite of them being made of very different materials or they being found in different material states (gas, liquid or solid). However, we found that pre-service primary teachers may have difficulties to appropriate this fundamental idea. This is not a surprising fact, as the existence of a common internal structure for all things is not evident (i.e., it is not easy to assume that, for example, a rock and the oxygen have the same internal structure). For most of the people, there is an existing barrier between liquids and solids on the one hand, and gases on the other hand. We do believe that a necessary step is needed for people to understand that all things are made of atoms and molecules: we need to assign to gases the same properties than liquids and solids have, to be aware of its “material nature”. This is of paramount importance for future primary teachers, as they have to teach these topics to their pupils in the future to avoid the appearance of alternative frameworks in primary students. The main objective of this work is to present a sequence of activities aimed at pre-service primary teachers to understand which is the structure of matter, i.e., how things are made, which is expected to make an important contribution to “break” the barrier between liquids and solids, and gases. This sequence follows a problematized structure, based in an inquiry-based methodology. Preliminary results revealed that prospective teachers attain a good content knowledge on the topic, and use a model that describe how things are made to explain daily natural phenomena.