Middle school students using energy analysis in diverse phenomena
Constantinou, Constaninos P.
SourceReview of Science, Mathematics and ICT Education
Public Knowledge Project
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Teaching and learning about energy, especially in the elementary and middle school grades, constitutes a challenging topic that has received much attention within the science education research literature. Despite this, it is important to notice the lack of consensus on a range of relevant issues (e.g., whether - and how - to address the nature of energy as a scientific construct). In this study we briefly discuss the challenge inherent in introducing and elaborating energy in school science and the inadequacy of conventional teaching approaches in addressing this challenge effectively. Next, we outline the rationale underlying a novel teaching proposal and the corresponding curriculum materials. The remaining part of the paper presents a portion of the results of the analysis of preliminary data that have emerged during the implementation of the curriculum materials with a group of 28 students aged 12-14. These results demonstrate the potential of the curriculum materials to help students construct understanding about the transphenomenological, unifying nature of energy and also to develop the ability to employ energy for analyzing simple, unknown physical systems so as to derive qualitative accounts for system changes.