Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2016 Archive

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Introducing physics concepts in primary school


8 February 2016

A Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation seminar.

Dr Lennart Schalk will report on the preliminary results of an ongoing longitudinal study that was initiated recently in Switzerland, the so-called MINT study (MINT is an acronym created from the German words for "science", "technology", "engineering" and "mathematics"). The aim of the study is to implement curricula on basic physics concepts in primary school and monitor children’s learning in science education until they graduate.

Basic physics concepts represent the fundamental building blocks of more advanced scientific concepts that are typically introduced in secondary science education. In this study, more than 500 primary-school teachers have been educated on how to use evidence-based hands-on teaching materials and scaffold students’ learning with these materials.

Data examined in this talk has been gathered from more than 5000 primary-school students across different cohorts. The results show that basic physics concepts can indeed be taught successfully in primary school and that students do not spontaneously build up these concepts on their own. As well, this data can be used to evaluate theoretical models of conceptual change because individual paths of conceptual knowledge development in science education can be identified. Furthermore, specific analyses of subgroups of students indicate that children develop an understanding of the control of variables strategy by working with the materials even though this strategy is not explicitly taught. Taken together, these preliminary results indicate that early physics education is likely to prepare students for future learning in science and it is worth the effort to directly align science education from primary to secondary education.

This seminar will not be available online or recorded.

Event details

  • When: 4–5pm

  • Where: Room 424, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
    Education Building A35
    Click image for interactive map.

  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: Not necessary

  • Contact: Sadhbh Warren
    T: +61 9351 2612

  • Speaker: Lennart Schalk is a senior lecturer at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He teaches in primary and secondary teacher-education programs. His research focuses on learning of relational categories and conceptual change in science education as well as the improvement of educational teaching and learning materials.

Introducing physics concepts in primary school

Where Room 424, Education Building A35


8 February 2016

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