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Children's Stories about the Moon: Case Studies of Three Children Jennifer Wilhelm Sonya Sherrod Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas, USA.

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Presentation on theme: "Children's Stories about the Moon: Case Studies of Three Children Jennifer Wilhelm Sonya Sherrod Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas, USA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Children's Stories about the Moon: Case Studies of Three Children Jennifer Wilhelm Sonya Sherrod Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas, USA

2 “Consider how you learned whatever you consider most valuable. We pick up bits and pieces, and suddenly see connections; these break or defract, and are recomposed in new ways with disparate pieces” (Kieran Egan 1989, p.13). Coming to Know

3 Piaget and Vygotsky Piaget (1962) described ways in which concepts are understood by children. Piaget (1962) described ways in which concepts are understood by children. Spontaneous – family and social interactions, milieu Spontaneous – family and social interactions, milieu School learning – formal transmission School learning – formal transmission Vygotsky also considered how children come to know concepts. Vygotsky also considered how children come to know concepts. Everyday concepts - “connected to family and community life and are appropriated through the child’s experience with objects outside an integrated system of knowledge.” (Hedegaard, 2007, p. 220). Everyday concepts - “connected to family and community life and are appropriated through the child’s experience with objects outside an integrated system of knowledge.” (Hedegaard, 2007, p. 220). Scientific concepts - “academic matters and are appropriated in relation to other concepts within a system of knowledge” (Hedegaard, 2007, p. 220). Scientific concepts - “academic matters and are appropriated in relation to other concepts within a system of knowledge” (Hedegaard, 2007, p. 220).

4 Developmental Modes of Thought of Scientific Concepts Concerning the Moon Elementary children’s understanding of astronomical phenomena - many alternative conceptions (Schoon, 1992; Stahly, Krockover, & Shepardson, 1999; and Dunlop, 2000). Elementary children’s understanding of astronomical phenomena - many alternative conceptions (Schoon, 1992; Stahly, Krockover, & Shepardson, 1999; and Dunlop, 2000). Alternative Conceptions of the cause of moon phases: Alternative Conceptions of the cause of moon phases: Clouds covering the part of the moon; Clouds covering the part of the moon; Planets casting a shadow on the moon; Planets casting a shadow on the moon; The shadow of the Sun falls on the moon; The shadow of the Sun falls on the moon; The shadow of the Earth falls on the moon; and The shadow of the Earth falls on the moon; and The correct explanation of the phases are explained in terms of the portion of illuminated side of the moon visible from Earth (Baxter, 1989, p. 509). The correct explanation of the phases are explained in terms of the portion of illuminated side of the moon visible from Earth (Baxter, 1989, p. 509).

5 Young Children’s Moon Phase Understanding Literature cites children’s and adults’ predominant moon phase misconception to be that of the Earth casting a shadow on the moon (age 9 and up). Literature cites children’s and adults’ predominant moon phase misconception to be that of the Earth casting a shadow on the moon (age 9 and up). Will children younger than 9 have the shadow misconception? Will children younger than 9 have the shadow misconception? “Children at ages 6 to 8 could hardly describe shadows except that they were black in color. The 6-year olds could not form shadows. They could point to the shadows formed but could not explain why they appeared” (Sia, 1980, p. 7). “Children at ages 6 to 8 could hardly describe shadows except that they were black in color. The 6-year olds could not form shadows. They could point to the shadows formed but could not explain why they appeared” (Sia, 1980, p. 7). Feher and Rice (1988) found in interviewing children (ages 8 – 14) that half of the subjects, the younger ones, believed that shadows were out at night. Feher and Rice (1988) found in interviewing children (ages 8 – 14) that half of the subjects, the younger ones, believed that shadows were out at night. Piaget (as cited in Feher and Rice) stated that “children 5 to 9 years of age think of a shadow as ‘a substance that emanates from the object themselves’ and ‘travels about.’ Very young children (ages 5 and 6) regard this substance as being alive and conscious” (p. 646). Piaget (as cited in Feher and Rice) stated that “children 5 to 9 years of age think of a shadow as ‘a substance that emanates from the object themselves’ and ‘travels about.’ Very young children (ages 5 and 6) regard this substance as being alive and conscious” (p. 646).

6 Participants Three female children: Three female children: Lauren and Emma, both age 6, and Rachel, age 8. Lauren and Emma, both age 6, and Rachel, age 8. All children lived in the United States (US); two resided in the Northern US and one in the Southern US. Eight-year- old Rachel was adopted at the age of 2 from China. All children lived in the United States (US); two resided in the Northern US and one in the Southern US. Eight-year- old Rachel was adopted at the age of 2 from China. Lauren and Emma had both just finished kindergarten and Rachel had just finished the second grade. Lauren and Emma had both just finished kindergarten and Rachel had just finished the second grade.

7 Method of Data Collection and Analysis Clinical interviews were conducted with children using an interview protocol developed by Robert Louisell, Frank Kazemek, and Jerry Wellik (2007) while consulting The Child’s Conception of the World by Jean Piaget (1929). Follow- up interviews were also done with mothers of the children. Clinical interviews were conducted with children using an interview protocol developed by Robert Louisell, Frank Kazemek, and Jerry Wellik (2007) while consulting The Child’s Conception of the World by Jean Piaget (1929). Follow- up interviews were also done with mothers of the children. Each interview was audiotaped, videotaped, and transcribed. All interviews were conducted in family homes. Each interview was audiotaped, videotaped, and transcribed. All interviews were conducted in family homes. As we analyzed the data, we paid careful attention to possible cultural influences - everyday concepts such as books, stories, siblings, adults, friends, movies, and environmental factors – that might have contributed to the child’s vision and understanding of the moon and sky. As we analyzed the data, we paid careful attention to possible cultural influences - everyday concepts such as books, stories, siblings, adults, friends, movies, and environmental factors – that might have contributed to the child’s vision and understanding of the moon and sky.

8 Research Questions 1. 1.What moon phases are noticed by children, and why do they think the moon’s appearance changes? 2.What are c 2.What are children’s ideas on moon size, moon distance, and moon illumination? 3.How do the children’s interview responses conducted by Piaget (1929) regarding the moon compare to ours?

9 Rachel - Circles and Bananas J: It looked like a banana? Show me how it looked like a banana? Can you show me with your hands? J: It looked like a banana? Show me how it looked like a banana? Can you show me with your hands? Rachel cups her left hand into the shape of a C. Rachel cups her left hand into the shape of a C. J: Okay, did you ever see the moon look any different than a banana? J: Okay, did you ever see the moon look any different than a banana? R: A circle. R: A circle. J: So sometimes it looks like a circle? Well how come sometimes it looks like a circle and sometimes it looks like a banana? J: So sometimes it looks like a circle? Well how come sometimes it looks like a circle and sometimes it looks like a banana? R: Because it is a full moon. R: Because it is a full moon. J: Oh, and when it is a full moon which way does it look? J: Oh, and when it is a full moon which way does it look? R: A circle. R: A circle. J: A circle? So, but why … why does sometimes it looks like a banana and sometimes it looks like a circle, do you think? J: A circle? So, but why … why does sometimes it looks like a banana and sometimes it looks like a circle, do you think? R: Because the sky is hiding part of it? R: Because the sky is hiding part of it? J: Oh … okay, because the sky is hiding part of it. So, what in the sky is hiding part of the moon? J: Oh … okay, because the sky is hiding part of it. So, what in the sky is hiding part of the moon? Rachel is silent and then says she does not know. Rachel is silent and then says she does not know.

10 The moon looked like a banana.

11 Rachel stands in front of her kitchen wallpaper border.

12 Interview with Mother Rachel’s mother described how they sometimes saw the moon through their front Palladian window, which faces east, and how Rachel often became excited when she saw the full moon or a “sliver of a moon” through the window. Rachel’s mother described how they sometimes saw the moon through their front Palladian window, which faces east, and how Rachel often became excited when she saw the full moon or a “sliver of a moon” through the window.

13 ). Photo of waxing crescent and waxing gibbous moon (Menzel and Pasachoff, 1983, p. 322 ).

14 Emma first reported having observed a blue circular moon and also said, later in her interview, having viewed both the waxing crescent and gibbous moons. When asked why the moon sometimes appeared differently, she responded, “Because the sky covers it up”. Emma first reported having observed a blue circular moon and also said, later in her interview, having viewed both the waxing crescent and gibbous moons. When asked why the moon sometimes appeared differently, she responded, “Because the sky covers it up”.

15 Lauren J: So why does the moon sometimes look like this (the waxing crescent) and why does it sometimes look like that (the waxing gibbous)? J: So why does the moon sometimes look like this (the waxing crescent) and why does it sometimes look like that (the waxing gibbous)? L: Maybe sometimes it’s happy and it looks like the sun (the waxing gibbous), and sometimes it’s grumpy and it looks like this (the waxing crescent). L: Maybe sometimes it’s happy and it looks like the sun (the waxing gibbous), and sometimes it’s grumpy and it looks like this (the waxing crescent). J: So this one is happy when it looks like the sun? J: So this one is happy when it looks like the sun? L: Yeah! L: Yeah! J: … and then sometimes it’s grumpy and it looks like that? J: … and then sometimes it’s grumpy and it looks like that? L: Yeah. L: Yeah. J: Okay… J: Okay… L: Because when you turn it (the waxing crescent) over it looks like a sad grumpy face. L: Because when you turn it (the waxing crescent) over it looks like a sad grumpy face.

16 Sometimes the Moon is grumpy.

17 The children illustrate the moon’s size using their hands, arms, and fingers.

18 Lauren J: Well, which one is closer, the sun or the moon? J: Well, which one is closer, the sun or the moon? L: The sun to me, I think. L: The sun to me, I think. J: The sun is closer? J: The sun is closer? L: Uhmm. L: Uhmm. J. And why do you think that? J. And why do you think that? L: Because it’s brighter. L: Because it’s brighter.

19 Emma J: Which one is closer, the moon or the sun? J: Which one is closer, the moon or the sun? E: The moon. E: The moon. J: How do you know that? J: How do you know that? E: Because I have a friend … um … he lived just two streets and … um … it’s closer. E: Because I have a friend … um … he lived just two streets and … um … it’s closer. J: The moon is closer? J: The moon is closer? E: Uh-huh. E: Uh-huh. J: Because your friend lives two streets away? J: Because your friend lives two streets away? E: Uh-huh. E: Uh-huh.

20 Summary All children began by describing either a circular moon (full moon) or a waning crescent (banana or C-shaped moon). All children began by describing either a circular moon (full moon) or a waning crescent (banana or C-shaped moon). Rachel and Emma explained the appearance of different shaped moons to be caused by the sky hiding or covering part of the moon. Lauren gave the moon animistic qualities and stated that the moon changed shaped based on its feelings. Rachel and Emma explained the appearance of different shaped moons to be caused by the sky hiding or covering part of the moon. Lauren gave the moon animistic qualities and stated that the moon changed shaped based on its feelings. All three children said that the moon was far away. Rachel and Emma stated that the moon was closer than the Sun. Emma thought this was true since she had observed the Moon over a friend’s house. Lauren said the Sun was closer than the moon, since the Sun was brighter. All three children said that the moon was far away. Rachel and Emma stated that the moon was closer than the Sun. Emma thought this was true since she had observed the Moon over a friend’s house. Lauren said the Sun was closer than the moon, since the Sun was brighter. Emma displayed the moon’s size as smallest (somewhat more in line with the size one might observe from a direct viewing). Rachel showed a moon’s size of about an arm’s length, and Lauren stated that the moon was as large as a room. Emma displayed the moon’s size as smallest (somewhat more in line with the size one might observe from a direct viewing). Rachel showed a moon’s size of about an arm’s length, and Lauren stated that the moon was as large as a room.

21 Conclusion By understanding how children think about the moon’s size, and the moon’s distance from Earth and its relative distance to Earth in comparison with the sun’s distance, we can better see what children bring to the classroom where their “school learning” begins. By understanding how children think about the moon’s size, and the moon’s distance from Earth and its relative distance to Earth in comparison with the sun’s distance, we can better see what children bring to the classroom where their “school learning” begins. This particular question sequence was needed to provide a lens on children’s everyday learning and reasoning. As we can see from our study and the literature, children possess fragments of understanding that need to break and recompose. This particular question sequence was needed to provide a lens on children’s everyday learning and reasoning. As we can see from our study and the literature, children possess fragments of understanding that need to break and recompose.

22 The reconstruction occurs in the formal school environment with teachers, models, and textbooks. However, this is often done with inappropriate models, with incorrect scaling, with textbooks illustrating inaccurate diagrams and representations, and all too often, with teachers who possess many alternate conceptions of their own. The reconstruction occurs in the formal school environment with teachers, models, and textbooks. However, this is often done with inappropriate models, with incorrect scaling, with textbooks illustrating inaccurate diagrams and representations, and all too often, with teachers who possess many alternate conceptions of their own.

23 Thank You Jennifer Wilhelm


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