that real learning happens when a shift in perspective allows people to start thinking for themselves, based on their own experience and cognition, rather than on cultural beliefs and social expectations.
The new study describes a particular model, the “Science in Family Project” (SFP), which has been developed for more than a decade at a public elementary school serving a low-income community in Monterrey, Mexico.
The goal of SFP is to enhance science curiosity in children from Grades 3 to 6, notably by making them aware of the impact that science and technology have on society. Concretely, SFP involves providing families with instructions and materials to conduct experiments at home. Every 15 days students and their families have to perform an experiment and collect evidence such as pictures and field notes that are reviewed by their teacher. At the end of the period, there is a fair with a contest and a science toy for the winner, who also gets to perform their experiment in front of all students.
Through observations and interviews with 5 families, the author found evidence of a “positive attitude towards science in students who were exposed to transformative learning models of teaching.” She also found that the response of the students regarding what they would like to study when they grow up was very consistent, mentioning that they would like to become a character related to the science field: scientist, astronaut, or science teacher. Only one of the girls wanted to become a lawyer, like her older sister.
Thus, the project did help students “become more confident with a subject that usually is perceived as abstract and complex, reinterpreting it as an activity that can be fun and engaging while crossing boundaries between home and school.”
Indeed, SFP enhanced curiosity not only from children, but also from their entire family. In almost all the observed families, both parents were involved in the experiments, even though none of them had a profession related to science. All of them seemed very enthusiastic about working in the projects with their children.
What is more, two participants now aged 18 and 19 even took steps to follow science related careers by studying Biology and Chemistry at university level.
At a time when pedagogy seeks more meaningful ways that may enhance students’ learning, especially in STEM education, this study helps “illuminate the extent to wich teacher education models influence students’ attitudes and how positive attitudes to science are influenced by the used of learning by doing projects.”