DISCOVERING LIVING ORGANISMS: A DIDACTIC RESEARCH TO INTRODUCE BIOLOGY IN KINDERGARTEN
University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:In kindergarten, knowledge of plants and animals is generally proposed using drawings, books or puppets; guide characters who through their narratives end up sedimenting an animistic vision of reality. Up to 6/7 years, for the child all things are conscious and alive, even those that are motionless. This leads children to build false knowledge. In this context, the scientific method acts as an antidote against superficial and dispersive attitudes, allowing the construction of interpretative (operational and formal) schemes and refining children's skills in order to make them more and more suitable for interpreting the world of objects and facts that surround them. In kindergarten an important role is played by the attention given to conscious observation and aimed at recognizing the surrounding reality. Basing on these insights, an experimental research focused on the distinction between living and non-living beings has been performed. The aim was to guide children towards an interpretation of facts and processes given by biology, which can evolve from naïve knowledge of anthropocentric origin, towards more systematized and modeled definitions on relatively stable models of thought shared by the scientific community. Moreover, we want to verify the feasibility and effectiveness of a teaching proposal for kindergarten which pursued some of the objectives set by the Italian National Guidelines for nursery school, but which internally included also disciplinary contents of the teaching science in the successive degrees of education. We also wanted to value the effectiveness of the scientific observational-comparative method as a meaningful learning tool; a method in which the use of innovative tools and methodologies is foreseen, rarely experimented in this degree of education. Facing biological complexity with the desire to explain the implicit dynamics in simple living, highlighting a variety of possible interpretations that can be shared between the animal and plant kingdoms. The research was carried out in a kindergarten of Padua (Italy), involving eighteen 5 year-old children. During the experimental research the children have manipulated both living and non-living organisms and through the observation and subsequent identification of similarities and differences they managed to categorize them, creating the first recognition schemes. Specifically, we observed several samples taken from the Botanical Garden of Padua and the growth processes of animal and plant species. As for the use of magnifying glasses and stereomicroscope the activities focused on the analysis of different types of seeds and fruits, while with the microscope we analyzed slides of plant and animal samples to observe the cells. Regarding the first of the objectives that our research was intended to validate, it can certainly be said that the teaching of biology can no longer be considered as an exclusive prerogative of higher education levels than that of childhood, because the teaching proposal does not only demonstrate its feasibility but also it extreme effectiveness.
Moreover, by making a comparison with the pre-knowledge found at the beginning of the experimental research, we realized that there was an increase compared to the characteristics and vital functions recognized by children as distinctive of living organisms.
Keywords: Biology, kindergarten, laboratory didactics.