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M.A. Manassero-Mas, A.J. Bennàssar Roig, A. Vázquez-Alonso

University of the Balearic Islands (SPAIN)
An extensive literature claims that the main objective of school science is to educate scientifically literate citizens, who are well prepared to live in a world increasingly permeated by science and technology. An essential component of science literacy is learning how science works, that is, learning to think and act as scientists. This innovative content is labelled nature of scientific and technological knowledge (NoST).

This communication innovates the initial training of primary teachers on science through their involvement in developing teaching materials with the format of cooperative games. The games aim to teach students the contents about the nature of the scientific knowledge (how science works). To this end, the games offer an authentic analogy of the scientific practices not only because they replicate science epistemological tenets that validate knowledge, but also because they simulate the sociology of science (cooperation and competition) through the cooperative and competitive dimensions of games. This way games actually involve students in complex aspects about NoST, and are flexible enough to allow evolutionary adaptation to students.

Critical thinking has been defined within Psychology as knowing what to think and what to do (acting) about daily life situations. This definition connects critical thinking, as a high level cross-cutting cognitive competence in any context, and scientific thinking, as a high-level critical thinking, which is refined and applied to scientific problems and issues.

These thinking contents are key for learning science and useful for everyday life, yet research shows that teaching them is not easy and faces major difficulties. The lack of teacher training and the lack of appropriate educational materials for teaching these contents are the biggest ones. This communication cope with both difficulties.

The aim of teacher training through cooperative games is developing teachers’ understanding on NoST in the framework of science curriculum. This aim unfolds on the following ideas:
• Scientific knowledge supposes order and consistency in the natural systems.
• Scientific research uses a variety of methods.
• Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence.
• Scientific knowledge is open to review based on new evidence (change).
• The laws, mechanisms, models and scientific theories explain natural phenomena.

On the other hand, other objectives aim to develop critical thinking skills in primary teachers and students:
• Asking questions and defining problems
• Analysing and interpreting data
• Building explanations and designing solutions
• Participating in evidence-based argumentation
• Developing and using models
• Planning and conducting research
• Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.

The games are analogies of scientific activity that allow students to directly cope with key knowledge about the NoST. A presentation of games (tangram, cubes, scenarios, black boxes, cards, etc.) and some preliminary results will be displayed at the Conference.

Project EDU2015-64642-R (AEI / ERDF, EU) financed by the State Agency for Research (AEI), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Institut de Recerca i Innovació Educativa (IRIE/UIB).