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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits 4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities Everyday science learning is not really a single setting at all—it is the constellation of everyday activities and routines through which people often learn things related to science. What distinguishes everyday and family learning from the other venues represented in this volume is that a significant portion of it occurs in settings in which there is not necessarily any explicit goal of teaching or learning science—at least not part of an institutional agenda to engage in science education. In many situations, scientific content, ways of thinking, and practices are opportunistically encountered and identified, without any particular prior intention to learn about science. In this way, science learning is simply woven into the fabric of the everyday activities or problems. An individual could be asked to make a health-related decision, contingent on a set of scientific concepts and complex underlying models, while keeping a routine doctor’s appointment. A family might stumble across a science-related event—like a robotics or science fair put on by avid hobbyists—while on a weekend outing. An individual may have to learn about some detailed aspect of computer technology in order to resolve a problem with a computer or network. A group of children might decide to construct an elaborate treehouse one summer, necessitating that they develop a deeper understanding of materials and structural mechanics. Or community members may decide to canvass their neighborhood to educate and involve others responding to an environmental hazard that has been uncovered. As each of these examples illustrates, moments for science learning and teaching surface in people’s everyday lives in unpredictable and opportunistic ways. The research reviewed in this chapter raises intriguing questions about how such everyday moments can figure importantly into a
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits longer developmental pathway that leads to an increasingly sophisticated understanding of science. A typical scenario for everyday science learning might be a child learning from a parent, or children and adults learning from the media, siblings, peers, and coworkers. Everyday science learning can even appear in the structure of schools and the workplace. For example, some have argued that many child-oriented preschools and apprentice-like graduate programs have in common a kind of situated learning embedded in meaningful activities characteristic of everyday learning (Tharp and Gallimore, 1989). In some school classrooms, as well, children engage with science concepts and activities in informal ways (Brown and Campione, 1996). Many adults learn a great deal about science in the workplace. The science learning we focus on in this chapter, however, occurs in less structured settings. An important distinction can be made between two categories of everyday science learning. First, there are spontaneous, opportune moments of learning that come up unexpectedly. Second, there are more deliberate and focused pursuits that involve science learning and may grow into more stable interests and activity choices. These types establish two ends of a continuum, with a range of activities falling in between. Virtually all people participate in spontaneous everyday science learning. A classic example is when a preschool-age child asks a parent a question during everyday activities. For example in one study, while fishing with his dad, a four-year-old boy asked, “Why do fish die outside the water?” While watching a movie about dinosaurs, another four-year-old boy asked, “Why do dinosaurs grow horns?” A five-year-old girl eating dinner with her family asked, “When you die what is your body like?” (Callanan, Perez-Granados, Barajas, and Goldberg, no date). Such questions often emerge in conversations that become potential learning situations for children. Although the children themselves are not likely to be thinking about the domain of science, their questions engage other people in the exploration of ideas, creating an important context for early thinking about science. Of course, young children are not the only ones to engage with science ideas in these spontaneous ways. Every adult has had experiences in which they pick up some new idea or new way of understanding something scientific through a casual conversation, or through a newspaper article or television show. Conversational topics one might casually encounter range from what causes earthquakes, to how new television screen technology works, to the best way to determine what food may be causing allergic reactions in a child. What these examples have in common is that science learning may be occurring without any particular goal of learning. Not everyone participates in the second, more deliberate type of everyday science activity. But many do: children become “experts” in particular domains (dinosaurs, birds, stars), adults pursue science hobbies (computers, ham radio, gardening), and other focused pursuits emerge because of life
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits circumstances (caring for a family member with a particular condition, dealing with a local environmental hazard). In these more deliberate pursuits, there is a learning goal, although it might be quite different from the goals held by science teachers for their students. For example, an adult with a hobby of flying model planes learns a great deal about aerodynamics, and a child who develops a keen interest in dinosaurs gains expertise in understanding biological adaptation. The focused pursuits that are based on life circumstances also involve learning and teaching—for example, a young woman who searches the Internet to better understand her mother’s cancer diagnosis, as well as the community member who learns about water contamination because of a local hazard. Agricultural communities and families engage in sophisticated science learning related to environmental conditions and botany in specific ecosystems. Hobbyists and volunteers can spend hundreds of hours each year engaging in science-related elective pursuits, from astronomy and robotics to animal husbandry and environmental stewardship (Sachatello-Sawyer et al., 2002). A parent might decide to structure significant portions of weekend family time around a science-related practice like systematic mixing to make perfumes or cross-pollination experiments with house plants (Bell et al., 2006). In contrast to the more opportunistic experiences described first, these deliberate educational opportunities are more systematic, more sustained, more likely to involve the development of social groups to support the activities (e.g., hobby groups), and more likely to link with institutions that make the pursuits possible (e.g., equipment manufacturers, government agencies). Furthermore, sustained learning is more of a central goal in these activities than in the spontaneous ones. But notice that the learning and teaching that occurs in these examples is not defined by the goal of becoming expert in a domain of science or in science as a global concept. The learning is much more specific, more focused, and more connected to the deeply motivated interests and goals of the learner. These everyday pursuits, while they involve sustained individual inquiry, are also often intensive social practices in which individuals share expertise and combine their distributed expertise to reach goals that include solving problems, increasing expertise, and enjoyment. SETTINGS FOR EVERYDAY LEARNING The settings in which everyday and family science learning occur vary a great deal in terms of physical setting, the degree to which a particular location is obviously marked as science-oriented, and the relationship to science learning institutions and programs. Some settings for everyday and family learning are clearly tied to science content—activities like fishing, berry picking, agricultural practices, and gardening, for example. Although participants in these settings may not view their activities as relevant to science, it is not difficult to make the case
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits that they are potentially interesting places for science learning as they are linked to scientific domains (e.g., berry picking can overlap with questions of botany). Other everyday activities are even more explicitly focused on learning science content; these include reading books about science topics, or watching videos and television shows about such topics (e.g., the Discovery Channel). When children are a bit older, homework activities with parents (e.g., science fair projects) are possible venues for science conversations, as well as conversations related to literacy and other school topics (McDermott, Goldman, and Varenne, 1984; Valle and Callanan, 2006). Some settings for everyday and family science learning may occur in or build on settings designed for science learning—science or natural history museums, zoos, science centers, environmental centers, school experiences, and the like. Although we discuss experiences in designed settings at length in Chapter 5, it is important to note that the distinction between everyday learning and learning in designed settings is blurry and imperfect. After all, family groups are among the most common social configurations of participants in these settings. Conversations about these events and activities occur as the experiences are unfolding in both unstructured family settings and institutionally organized, designed settings. For example, Crowley and Galco (2001) report on the ways that parents, through conversations with their children in museums, seem to extend children’s exploration and provide brief explanations of the phenomena they are observing. Reflection on those experiences often extends after these experiences and is observed in future family activities in a variety of home and other settings (Bell et al., 2006; Bricker and Bell, no date). A third type of setting—the unanticipated incidental experiences of family life—are in some sense not obviously linked to a scientific setting. Dinner table conversation is one activity that has been studied by a number of researchers (Ochs, Smith, and Taylor, 1996). Other activities, such as driving in the car, can also provide opportunities for reflection on the events of the day or on issues that come to mind (Callanan and Oakes, 1992). Goodwin (2007) discusses “occasioned knowledge exploration,” in which, for example, a family on an evening walk might encounter events that lead to explanation. She discusses one family walk on which each family member pretended to be a different animal, and this engendered open-ended discussion of a number of topics, such as camouflage, how fireflies’ lights work, and the behavior of snakes. A crucial point to make here is that the features of the settings for everyday science learning are likely to vary a great deal depending on the cultural community, as well as the particular family in question. Some individuals, families, and communities live in ways that give them regular exposure to living animals, while others are limited to encountering only pictures of animals, along with pets and occasional zoo visits. People, especially children, also vary a great deal in their exposure to different types of technology
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits (such as computers, automobile mechanics, and construction equipment). In addition, there is diversity in the patterns of interaction of children and adults in families. Some communities value storytelling, others focus more on explanation, others focus more on intent observation of ongoing activity without as much verbal commentary (Heath, 1983; Rogoff et al., 2003). All of these issues have importance for the ways in which groups of people tend to engage with the natural and technological world and the ways in which young children master, as well as learn to identify as normal, habitual modes of interacting with one another and with science and the natural world. We return to this in greater detail in Chapter 7. WHO LEARNS IN EVERYDAY SETTINGS Virtually all people develop skills, interests, and knowledge relevant to science in everyday and family settings. The nature of learning varies over time as development, maturation, and the life course unfold. Particular interests and abilities arise through development that shape pursuits of learning, as well as the intellectual and social resources individuals draw on to learn science. People develop new interests and manage new tasks that arise through the life course. Being a sibling, entering the workforce, caring for one’s self, one’s children, and one’s aging parents, for example, often demand that one navigate and explore new scientific terrain. Here we briefly sketch out a life-course developmental view of science learning as it unfolds in everyday and family settings. At birth, children begin to build the basis for science learning. By the end of the first two years of life, individuals have acquired a remarkable amount of knowledge about the physical aspects of their world (Baillargeon, 2004; Cohen and Cashon, 2006). This “knowledge” is not formal science knowledge, but rather a developing intuitive grasp of regularity in the natural world. It is derived from the child’s own experimentation with objects, rather than through planned learning by adults. In accidentally dropping something from a high chair or crib, for example, the child begins to recognize the effects of gravity. These early experiences do not always lead to accurate interpretations or understandings of the physical world (Krist, Fieberg, and Wilkening, 1993). As children acquire new or deeper knowledge about physical objects and events, some of their learning will correct false or incomplete inferences that they have made earlier. As a child masters language and becomes more mobile, opportunities for science learning expand. Informal and unplanned discoveries of scientific phenomena (e.g., scrutinizing bugs in the backyard) are supplemented by more programmatic learning (e.g., bedtime reading by parents, family visits to museums or science centers, science-related activities in child care or preschool settings). These lead to the development of scientific concepts (Gelman and Kalish, 2006), which are enhanced by the child’s expanding
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits reasoning skills (Halford and Andrews, 2006). Even in these initial years of life, children display preferences for some phenomena more than others. Such preferences can evolve into specific science interests (e.g., dinosaurs, insects, flight, mechanics) that can be nurtured when parents or others provide experiences or resources related to the interests (Chi and Koeske, 1983; Crowley and Jacobs, 2002). By the time they enter formal school environments, most children have developed an impressive array of cognitive skills, along with an extensive body of knowledge related to the natural world (National Research Council, 2007). It is also likely that they have become familiar with numerous modalities for acquiring scientific information other than formal classroom instruction: reading, surfing the Internet, watching science-related programs on television, speaking with peers or adults who have some expertise on a topic, or exploring the environment on their own (Korpan, Bisanz, Bisanz, and Lynch, 1998). These activities continue throughout the years in which young people and young adults are engaged in formal schooling, as well as later in life (Farenga and Joyce, 1997). It is also common for elementary schoolchildren to bring the classroom home, to regale parents with stories of what happened in school that day and involve them in homework assignments. These events help to alert parents to a child’s specific intellectual interests and may inspire family activities that feature these interests. A child’s comments about a science lesson at school may encourage parents to work with the child on the Internet or take him or her to a zoo or museum or concoct scientific experiments with household items in order to gather more information. In these ways, informal experiences can supplement and complement school-based science education. As young people move into adolescence, they tend to express a desire to pursue activities independently of adults (Falk and Dierking, 2002). This does not necessarily mean that relationships with parents grow more distant (Zimmer-Gembeck and Collins, 2003), but young people do spend less time with parents or other adult relatives and more time with peers or alone (Csikszentmihalyi and Larson, 1984). Attachment to teachers also wanes across adolescence (Eccles, Lord, and Buchanan, 1996). Despite such alterations in relationships with adults who have organized or supervised their learning experiences in previous years, many young people continue to engage in many activities outside school that can involve science learning. Individuals’ interests in and motivations to pursue scientific learning change during adolescence. Yet especially for those with strong personal interests in scientific areas, learning experiences in informal settings potentially continue to supplement classroom science instruction. As individuals move into adult roles, they usually reserve a reasonable amount of time for leisure pursuits. Those with hobbies related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics are especially likely to continue with intentional, self-directed learning activities in that area (Barron, 2006). Science
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits learning may also continue in more unintentional ways, such as watching television shows or movies with scientific content or falling into conversation with friends or associates about science-related issues. Some adults may focus especially on scientific issues related to their occupation or career, and in many cases their pursuit of scientific topics will be influenced by personal interests or (in later years) the school-related needs of their children. Beginning in middle age and continuing through later adulthood, individuals are often motivated by events in their own lives or the lives of significant others to obtain health-related information (Flynn, Smith, and Freese, 2006). Health-related concerns draw many adults into a new domain of science learning. At the same time, with retirement, older adults have more time to devote to personal interests. Their science learning addresses longstanding scientific interests as well as new areas of interest (Kelly, Savage, Landman, and Tonkin, 2002). In sum, although the nature and extent of science-related learning may vary considerably from one life stage to another, most people develop relevant capabilities and intuitive knowledge from the days immediately after birth and expand on these in later stages of their life. In this sense, science learning in informal environments is definitely a lifelong enterprise (Falk and Dierking, 2002). To date, no one has compiled reliable information on the amount of information about the natural world acquired by infants and toddlers through everyday interactions in the world or through more programmed learning contexts (e.g., preschool activities, television shows). Information is equally scant on the amount of scientific knowledge that young people acquire in school classrooms in comparison to other venues. It is safe to say, however, that the sheer number of hours in which individuals encounter scientific information outside school over the life span is far greater than the number of hours of science education in formal classroom environments. WHAT IS LEARNED This section focuses on the science knowledge, skills, and interests that children and adults develop in everyday learning. We organize this discussion according to the strands of our framework, focusing specifically on the evidence of learning in everyday and family settings. The strands serve as a means of pulling apart the evidence in ways that make the stronger claims more evident. We devote varied amounts of space to the strands. In most cases, this variability reflects the quantity of work that has examined the strand in a particular venue. Here and in subsequent chapters, we often discuss the strands individually for analytic purposes. Yet we hope to keep sight of how the strands are interrelated and mutually supportive in practice. Tizard and Hughes (1984), for example, offer an illustrative example of an almost-4-year-old’s conversation with her mother (see Box 4-1). In this short thread, we see the child using her parent as source of information (Strand 5)
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits BOX 4-1 Example of a Parent-Child Incidental Science Conversation Child: Is our roof a sloping roof? Mother: Mmm. We’ve got two sloping roofs, and they sort of meet in the middle. Child: Why have we? Mother: Oh, it’s just the way our house is built. Most people have sloping roofs, so that the rain can run off them. Otherwise, if you have a flat roof, the rain would sit in the middle of the roof and make a big puddle, and then it would start coming through. Child: Our school has a flat roof, you know. Mother: Yes it does actually, doesn’t it? Child: And the rain sits there and goes through? Mother: Well, it doesn’t go through. It’s probably built with drains so that the water runs away. You have big blocks of flats with rather flat sort of roofs. But houses that were built at the time this house was built usually had sloping roofs. Child: Does Lara have a sloping roof? [Lara is her friend] Mother: Mmm. Lara’s house is very like ours. In countries where they have a lot of snow, they have even more sloping roofs. So that when they’ve got a lot of snow, the snow can just fall off. Child: If you have a flat roof, what would it do? Would it just have a drain? Mother: No, then it would sit on the roof, and when it melted it would make a big puddle. SOURCE: Tizard and Hughes (1984). as she explores a “why” question (Strand 1) and tries to explain the role of pitched roofs in drainage (Strand 2). Strand 1: Developing Interest in Science What sets everyday learning apart from other learning is the sense of excitement and pure intrinsic interest that often underlies it (Hidi and Renninger,
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits 2006). One potential advantage of everyday informal settings is that they may be more likely to support learners’ interest-driven and personally relevant exploration than are more structured settings, such as classrooms and other designed educational settings. Children’s cause-seeking “why” questions have been argued to be one sign of their intense curiosity about the world (see Heath, 1999; Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl, 1999; Tizard and Hughes, 1984). Simon (2001) compares these questions to the creative thought and exploratory thinking of scientists. Similarly, Gopnik (1998) suggests that explanation seeking is a basic human process. Some children become so interested in one domain that they are described as experts—for example a great deal of research has characterized the activities of preschool-age dinosaur experts, as well as experts in other domains relevant to science or technology (Chi, Hutchinson, and Robin, 1989; Johnson et al., 2004). Such children may also develop social reputations as experts in a particular science domain (Palmquist and Crowley, 2007). These social reputation systems can serve to further the child’s learning, in that adults, peers, and siblings may call on the child to perform as an expert (e.g., to produce and refine an explanation of a natural phenomenon) or provide them with specialized topic-related learning resources to further their learning (Barron, 2006; Bell et al., 2006). Similarly, adult experts often develop their knowledge through informal channels. Adult science learning in everyday settings is also usually self-motivated and tightly connected to individual interest and problem solving. For example, adult learners often learn about science in the context of hobbies, such as bird watching or model airplane building (Azevedo, 2006). A sociocultural perspective on adult learning highlights how learning is often initiated in direct response to a current life problem or issue (Spradley, 1980). Environmental science learning often occurs in the context of local conflicts that threaten neighborhoods, such as pesticide use, industrial waste, effects of severe weather, or introduction of new industries in an area (Ballantyne and Bain, 1995). Also, a great deal of adult learning about human physiology and medicine tends to occur because of immediate and strong motivation to learn about illnesses experienced by the learner or someone close to them (Flynn, Smith, and Freese, 2006). Indeed, one conclusion from the literature is that adult learners tend not to be generalists in their learning of science; rather, they tend to become experts in one particular domain of interest (Sachatello-Sawyer, 2006). Even when science learning is of the momentary type (rather than sustained or expert-like), keen interest is likely to be behind it. The research on adults’ medical knowledge is one strong example; that knowledge often comes from deep questioning of health care providers and intense searches of literature (and, more recently, the Internet) when one is facing a medical crisis (for either oneself or a loved one). The motivation to understand in
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits the context of such a crisis is strong and persistent (Dickerson et al., 2004; Flynn et al., 2006; Pereira et al., 2000). Some have argued that schools and science centers should learn from the authentic moments of curiosity and exploration seen in everyday learning—and try to recreate them in their settings (Falk and Storksdieck, 2005; Hall and Schaverien, 2001; National Research Council, 2000). While pursuit of scientific questions for the sake of pure interest is often a goal in planning curriculum or museum exhibits, visitors may not have that goal. Yet the personal histories of scientists suggest that sustained everyday experiences are often seen as a crucial influence on their expertise development (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Simon, 2001). If learning experiences in informal settings are to be linked more productively with formal education, a fundamental challenge is to systematically explore the effectiveness of ways of offering resources and supports that allow learners to pursue their own deeply held interests. Strand 2: Understanding Scientific Knowledge As noted, throughout the life span, people learn a myriad of facts, ideas, and explanations that are relevant to a variety of scientific domains. Studies of early cognitive development suggest that young children, prior to the age at which they enter school, make great strides in understanding regularities in the natural world, which can be developed into more robust understanding of science (National Research Council, 2007). Their earliest experiences of learning about the natural world begin in infancy. Even in the first days of life, infants’ physical encounters with objects and people begin to give them information about the nature of their new world. Newborns’ contacts with surfaces and objects give them an intuitive understanding of motion which later may be drawn on in the study of physics (Baillargeon, 2004; Spelke, 2002; von Hofsten, 2004). For example, when presented with a person holding an object, 4-month-old babies look longer when the person lets go and the object stays stationary than when the object drops, suggesting that they are surprised when the typical effects of gravity are violated (Baillargeon, 2004). Throughout the first year of life, babies’ simple behaviors, such as looking in anticipation for the movement of a rolling ball, show that they have begun to develop expectations about the behaviors of physical objects, as well as the actions of other people (Luo and Baillargeon, 2005; Saxe, Tzelnic, and Carey, 2007). Much of young children’s early understanding of the natural world grows out of experiences in everyday settings. Consider, for example, research on children’s learning about two scientific questions: (1) What kinds of things are alive? (2) What is the shape of the earth? These are two areas in which extensive research has uncovered patterns in children’s early understanding, as well as developmental changes in their concepts over time. The developing understanding of distinctions between living and nonliv-
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits ing things has been explored in infancy and early childhood using a number of methodologies (Bullock, Gelman, and Baillargeon, 1982; Gelman and Gottfried, 1996; National Research Council, 2007; Springer and Keil, 1991). It is evident from this work that many of children’s earliest ideas about the natural world seem to focus on a distinction between social, intentional creatures as distinct from nonintentional, inanimate things (Carey, 1985). Indeed, it takes many years for children to accept plants as living things (Waxman, 2005). Laboratory studies of children’s inferences about living things first suggested that they think about animals in terms of their relation to people (Carey, 1985). When told that people have a particular organ (e.g., a spleen) and asked whether a series of animals have that organ, children as old as 7 years often seemed to make decisions based on how similar the animal was to humans; a monkey would be judged as more likely to have the organ than would a butterfly, for example. Such findings were taken to suggest that children did not have a “naïve theory” of biology, but rather thought in terms of a “naïve psychology” with humans as the prototype. Later studies, however, have shown that Carey’s sample of mostly urban majority children reason differently on this task than do children from communities with more firsthand experience with nature. Both rural American Indian children from the Menominee community and rural majority children made inferences that indicate reasoning about biological kinds without anthropomorphism (Ross, Medin, Coley, and Atran, 2003). Furthermore, Tarlowski (2006) found that children whose parents are expert biologists were more likely to reason about animals in terms of biological categories, and Inagaki and Hatano (1996) found that children who had experience raising goldfish were more likely to reason in terms of biology than those who had not. Research on children’s understanding of evolution has also revealed some interesting influences of learning about biology in families. Evans (2001, 2005) found some ways that developmental phases in understanding the origin of species are similar for children from different family backgrounds. She finds that many young children give “creationist” explanations, and then, as they get older, their families’ beliefs seem to influence children from fundamentalist and nonfundamentalist households to differentiate their beliefs about evolution. These findings demonstrate that while there are trends related to age, children’s particular experiences, including cultural experiences outside school, are likely to have impact on their thinking about the domain of living things. Less is known about precisely how specific experiences actually affect their thinking. What does seems clear, however, is that much of this learning occurs in informal settings, and that it is likely to involve conversations with peers (Howe, McWilliam, and Cross, 2005; Howe, Tolmie, and Rodgers, 1992; Lumpe, 1995), parents, and other important people in children’s lives (Jipson and Gelman, 2007; Waxman and Medin, 2007). Children’s understanding of the shape of the earth is another area in
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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits more traditional science learning in labs and classrooms. Recognizing these links has particularly important promise for learners who have been outside the practice and identity of science, whether as children or as adults. More attention to everyday practices that are related to science may provide valuable tools for moving toward equity in access to science. We recognize that the evidence for contributions from everyday science learning venues toward Strand 4 suggests less contribution than for other strands. The literature focuses more on learners’ epistemic commitments and views of science (whether the learners are young or old) than on the ways that the everyday settings contribute to those commitments and views. The research, in fact, tends to focus on the limitations of learners’ capabilities vis-à-vis reflection. We think further examination is warranted. We acknowledge that everyday science cannot replace the kind of systematic and cumulative pedagogy that science educators have developed. For example, the concept of learning progressions has attracted substantial attention among science educators and researchers. Learning progressions call for the K-12 curriculum to build a small number of core scientific constructs across the curriculum. These major ideas are revisited recurrently from year to year with increasing depth and sophistication. Informed by developmental research, learning progressions also build on a broad range of science knowledge and skills, such as those reflected in the strands. Everyday learning cannot replace such systematic building of knowledge and experiences toward particular goals. However, everyday learning can augment and complement this and other curricular approaches to science learning. For example, they may be well suited to sparking early interest and for providing opportunities for deeper exploration of particular ideas. A major challenge is to find more productive ways for everyday experiences with science to connect with more formal science learning. It is difficult to know how best to connect the pure moments of informal inquiry and exploration to the longer term goals of deeper scientific education. For example, creative use of spaces where the talk and practices of both science and everyday life can come together have shown particular promise in this arena (Barton, 2008). Finally, we call attention to the disagreement in the literature as to the role of everyday experiences in children’s developing scientific thinking. Some researchers are optimistic that everyday settings can be powerful, productive sources for (eventual) sophisticated, mature scientific knowledge. Others are more guarded and focus on how formal instruction should elicit and often correct scientific or science-like ideas that are developed in everyday settings. Further research is needed to illuminate the subtleties of the interaction between thinking about science in everyday and in school settings.
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