Fenichel, Marilyn, Schweingruber, Heidi A.. "5 Interest and Motivation: Steps Toward Building a Science Identity." Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010.
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Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments
what to plant based on the position of the sun at different times of the day and the quality of the soil.
As the teens prepared the lot for their garden, they used tools to track the living things occupying the lot and to determine the composition of the nonliving debris. Through the experience of using some of the basic tools of science, it can be argued that they were building a community grounded in the culture of science (Strand 5).
These tentative conclusions and their correlation to the strands are based on the observations of Dana Fusco, the project leader. Her views of the learning that occurred during this project reflect the sociocultural perspective on learning, which we summarized in Chapter 2:
The result [of the project] was not only the individual learning of science knowledge but the creation of science (and sciencelike) discourses, tools, and practices that had a real purpose within people’s everyday lives…. What this suggests to me is that as youth, science, and community interact, the potential for change occurs at many levels—within the person, within the physical and social environment, and within the culture of science and science education…. Changes within the participants’ ways of talking, thinking, and doing science occurred alongside practice and the creation of a science in which they would help minimize violence, beautify the community, and foster social and community gatherings and interactions.15
WELL-DEVELOPED INTEREST AND CHANGES IN IDENTITY
As we saw in the interest development model, the last phase is “well-developed” individual interest, in which an individual chooses to engage in an extended pursuit in a particular area. When taken to its logical conclusion, the endpoint of this model is a change in identity on the part of the learner. For instance, an individual who dabbles in gardening becomes so engaged by the activity that his or her identity becomes that of a “gardener.” Such changes occurred in the teens who participated in the community garden as well as those who were part of the long-term program at the St. Louis Science Center (Chapter 3).
Identity, as described in Strand 6, includes the learner’s sense that he or she can do science and be successful in science.16 Identity is often equated with a subjective sense of belonging—to a community, in a setting, or in an activity related to science. The changes in community affiliation and related behaviors that can