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Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits (2009)

Chapter: 4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities

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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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Suggested Citation:"4 Everyday Settings and Family Activities." National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12190.
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93 Everyday Settings and Family Activities 4 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 learn- ing 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 con- tent, 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, con- tingent 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 learn- ing 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

94 Learning Science in Informal Environments longer developmental pathway that leads to an increasingly sophisticated understanding of science. A typical scenario for everyday science learning might be a child learn- ing 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 ac- tivities 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 ev- eryday 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 conversa- tions 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 scien- tific through a casual conversation, or through a newspaper article or televi- sion 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 every- day 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

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 95 circumstances (caring for a family member with a particular condition, deal- ing 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 under- standing 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 con- tamination 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 stew- ardship (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 activi- ties (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 sci- ence 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

96 Learning Science in Informal Environments 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 par- ticipants 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 pro- vide 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 re- searchers (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 explana- tion. 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 every- day 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 ani- mals, along with pets and occasional zoo visits. People, especially children, also vary a great deal in their exposure to different types of technology

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 97 (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. Particu- lar 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 interpreta- tions 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 scien- tific 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

98 Learning Science in Informal Environments 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 pro- vide 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 Coun- cil, 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 de- sire 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

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 99 learning may also continue in more unintentional ways, such as watching television shows or movies with scientific content or falling into conversa- tion 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, in- dividuals 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 long- standing 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 discus- sion 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)

100 Learning Science in Informal Environments BOX 4-1 Example of a Parent-Child Incidental Science Conversation Child: s our roof a sloping roof? I Mother:  mm. We’ve got two sloping roofs, and they sort of meet M in the middle. Child:  hy have we? W Mother:  h, it’s just the way our house is built. Most people have O 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:  ur school has a flat roof, you know. O Mother:  es it does actually, doesn’t it? Y Child:  nd the rain sits there and goes through? A Mother:  ell, it doesn’t go through. It’s probably built with drains W 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:  oes Lara have a sloping roof? [Lara is her friend] D Mother:  mm. Lara’s house is very like ours. In countries where M 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: f you have a flat roof, what would it do? Would it just have I a drain? Mother:  o, then it would sit on the roof, and when it melted it N 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 ex- citement and pure intrinsic interest that often underlies it (Hidi and ­Renninger,

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 101 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). Environ- mental 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 sus- tained 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

102 Learning Science in Informal Environments 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 experi- ences 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 fun- damental 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 hold- ing 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-

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 103 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 sug- gested 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 fun- damentalist 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 learn- ing 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

104 Learning Science in Informal Environments which research has uncovered developmental patterns that suggest the im- portance of everyday learning and cultural context (Agan and Sneider, 2004; Nussbaum and Novak, 1976; Vosniadou and Brewer, 1992). While perceptual experience tells children that the earth is a flat surface, even 4- and 5-year- olds show evidence of knowing that the earth is in fact round. Vosniadou and Brewer (1992) demonstrated that children’s lived experience of the earth conflicts with what they are told—that the earth is round—and that children attempt to reconcile this conflict by creating hybrid mental models of the earth that bridge what they learn through observation versus through conversation. Using interview questions designed to uncover children’s solutions to this conflicting information, Vosniadou and Brewer identified a number of different models in children’s answers. For example, some children answered questions in ways that suggested a dual-earth model, in which they distinguished the flat earth on which they walk from the round earth up in the sky. Another model was the hollow-earth model, in which children seemed to think that the earth is round, but that people live on a surface on the inside of the globe (with the top of the globe sometimes seen as the sky). Other studies have found cultural variation in the kinds of models children describe (Samarapungavan, Vosniadou, and Brewer, 1996), showing that experiences, cultural values, and interactions with other people are likely to influence children as they make sense of their world and revise their understanding over time. For example, Samarapungavan and colleagues analyzed the cosmological beliefs of Indian children ages 5-9. They found that, in generating explanations for cosmological phenomena, children com- monly conflated the physical characteristics of heavenly bodies (e.g., shape, angle, location) with local folkloric explanations. Just as children learn science in everyday settings, so do adults. The clearest examples are health- and environment-related information. In seeking information about these issues, adults often turn to various sources besides such traditional experts as health practitioners. Additional modes of health information-seeking now commonly include the mass media and the use of local experts. The use of mass media for health information is well docu- mented. A review of three national surveys conducted before the Internet’s rapid growth showed that mass media, including magazines, newspapers, other printed publications, television, radio, street signs, and billboards were cited as the predominant source of health news for the majority of the respondents (Brodie et al., 2003). More recent studies confirmed those findings, with the Internet (whether defined as a resource or as a mass medium) growing dramatically in importance (Fox, 2006; Madden and Fox, 2006). Mass media play a substantial role in defining health and illness, detailing products and services designed to assist individuals in negotiating their health and well-being, and providing models of others with particular health concerns for consumers. Local experts (i.e., individuals who have tangible experience in the health

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 105 care profession or who themselves once experienced a particular medical condition) are also a major source of information for adults (Tardy and Hale, 1998). Tardy and Hale (1998) found that lay individuals are often sought out because they appear approachable and amicable and are integrated into their local communities. People often feel more comfortable seeking health information from them than from their health care providers. Epstein (1996) documented the process by which AIDS activists, initially relatively naïve about technical aspects of AIDS research, became sufficiently expert in the science of AIDS to contribute meaningfully to research policy, research fund- ing, and research design. Epstein’s work is part of a qualitative, case study- oriented sociological tradition that highlights ways in which nonexperts can learn technical information when relevant to their needs and indeed may contribute to the production of knowledge in ways that are unavailable to traditional scientific experts. This focus on lay knowledge comes largely from British explorations of the public understanding of science in the 1980s and 1990s (Irwin and Wynne, 1996; Layton, 1993). Although these studies document health information-seeking through mass media and local experts, neither they nor other well-developed lit- eratures have provided evidence for conclusions about the specific impact such behaviors are having on adults’ understanding of health, illness, and medicine. Nonetheless, in the presence of so much information gathering and with demonstrable behaviors, such as health care actions, as a result of the information gathering, we believe it evident that learning takes place in these everyday settings. These examples of developing understanding of scientific domains in both adults and children help support our contention about the importance of everyday learning. It is worth noting, however, that there is some disagree- ment about exactly what is learned. Much of the developmental psychology research approaches conceptual development with the assumption that particular symbolic concepts and causal theories are acquired at particular ages (Gopnik and Wellman, 1992; Gelman, 2003). A related approach focuses on misconceptions or alternative frameworks that children and adults have about science topics, which need to be corrected through intervention (e.g., Treagust, 1988). Finally, perhaps because research on learning in informal environments often focuses on naturalistic data (rather than laboratory tasks or intervention studies), sociocultural-historical approaches have been an important approach in this field (Cole, 2005; Rogoff, 2003). The emergence of the theory approach in developmental psychology has had the positive effect of acknowledging the coherence and internal consistency of children’s thinking, even when their reasoning is different from adults. As argued in Taking Science to School (National Research Council, 2007), Piaget’s assumptions about children’s early illogical thinking were not supported when their logic was examined on its own terms (Carey, 1985; Gelman and Baillargeon, 1983). Gelman (2003) argues further that both

106 Learning Science in Informal Environments children and adults are essentialist thinkers who develop understanding of biological categories, for example, guided by an assumption that these im- portant categories have inherent essences. Thus, learning something about a particular animal (e.g., that it eats bamboo leaves) leads them to make the inference that it is not just of that individual, but of all animals of the same type. In parallel with the changes in developmental psychology, for the past 25 years science education researchers have focused substantial attention on the details of children’s conceptual understanding of disciplinary science topics. The range of people’s ideas that differ from the understanding in the discipline are often framed as misconceptions, preconceptions, or alternative conceptions that need to be replaced with more normative understandings (e.g., Treagust, 1988; Snyder and Ohadi, 1998). An emerging cognitive perspective, which complicates this model, in- volves focusing on the pieces of knowledge present in a complex knowledge system of an individual that need to be brought into a coherent understanding (diSessa, 1988). It acknowledges that refinement may take place over a signifi- cant period of time. As we noted earlier, everyday experiences with natural phenomena are important for developing these pieces of knowledge. From this knowledge construction and refinement perspective, it might be more educationally useful to think about children’s ideas as productive resources that they can reorganize and apply to specific contexts and prob- lems in more scientific ways (Smith, diSessa, and Roschelle, 1993). In this view, arriving quickly at correct subject matter responses is less important than following a scientific knowledge-building process in one’s conceptual change. Educational experiences might benefit from focusing on the indi- vidual variation in children’s thinking—the knowledge fragments that are brought in to make sense of a particular context—in that they can serve as leverage points for further knowledge refinement, as opposed to looking only at central tendencies in thinking (e.g., coherent accounts generated systematically across many individuals). The sociocultural-historical approach has become very influential in the field, as discussed in Chapter 2. Especially when considering the everyday contexts in which science concepts are encountered, some argue that it may be more productive to characterize what is learned in terms of situated think- ing as it arises in meaningful action and interaction, rather than in terms of stable cognitive abilities that are absent at one point and present at a later point (Cole, 1996; Rogoff, 2003). In the interdisciplinary literature that touches on everyday science learning, the disagreement seems to focus on the role of everyday experiences in children’s developing scientific thinking. Some research suggests that children may develop misconceptions about science from everyday experiences (Ioannides and Vosniadou, 2002; National Re- search Council, 2007; Snir, Smith, and Raz, 2003). Other research suggests that children may deploy more sophisticated reasoning about science and

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 107 the natural world in everyday settings than they do in school settings (Bell et al., 2006; Sandoval, 2005). Further research is needed in order to reveal the subtleties of the interaction between thinking about science in everyday and in school settings. Strand 3: Engaging in Scientific Reasoning Another important focus of research on science learning in informal settings has been on how people employ the types of reasoning involved in science in their everyday activities. Research on scientific thinking has often focused on a specific set of structured, almost stereotyped, thinking strategies. In particular, consciously formulating and testing hypotheses has been seen as a central aspect of scientific reasoning (Kuhn, 1989; Klahr, 2000; Schauble, 1996; Zimmerman, 2000). Recently, however, several experts have argued that these reasoning processes are only a subset of those needed in science. Focusing only on hypothesis testing leaves out a vast array of other forms of thinking that are also crucially important for science (Gleason and Schauble, 2000; National Research Council, 2007). Paradoxically, while the reasoning skills involved in science are some- times seen in the thinking of very young children, there is also evidence that many adults are less than proficient in some of these skills (Kuhn, 1996; Tversky and Kahneman, 1986). Do individuals somehow lose scientific rea- soning skills as they age? We consider this paradox in this section, exploring how research on everyday thinking may clarify the discrepant results. Our focus is on two issues in scientific reasoning that are particularly relevant to everyday thinking: causality and context. Gopnik and colleagues (2004) argue, in fact, that seeking causes is a basic human drive. Controlled studies of causal thinking have shown that young children can process complex causal relations (Gopnik, Sobel, Shulz, and Glymour, 2001; Kushnir and Gopnik, 2005). In classroom studies, ways of supporting students’ causal thinking have been implemented and evaluated (Lehrer and Schauble, 2006). Everyday causal thinking is more ambiguous than laboratory or classroom tasks, and there is less of a chance that true causes can be determined. That doesn’t change the fact that cause-seeking is a major preoccupation in everyday life. People are often trying to figure out causes for events in both the natural world and the social world. Research has also demonstrated that various contextual factors have enormous impact on how effectively children and adults test claims and evaluate evidence. For example, Tschirgi (1980) showed that how people value an outcome will influence how likely they are to use scientific strate- gies in testing its cause. For example, if testing which ingredient made a cake turn out poorly, children and adults were likely to systematically control the variables they tested. However, if testing which ingredient made a cake turn out well, the participants tended to want to hold variables constant rather

108 Learning Science in Informal Environments than test them systematically—presumably because it made sense to them to try and recreate the good cake. Similarly, there is an extensive body of research demonstrating that adults, even experts, often use logic that does not match the “scientific” approach (Kuhn, 1996; Tversky and Kahneman, 1986; Wason, 1960), and often these differences in logic or scientific reasoning are related to a variety of everyday heuristics for making sense of the world. Using controlled tasks in a laboratory setting, Amsterlaw and Meltzoff (2007) have recently documented that children develop more scientific ways of reasoning and making decisions over their elementary school years. Children exhibit less of an outcome bias and identify the crucial role of evidence in reasoning. These laboratory-based studies may shed light on a phenomenon that is pervasive in everyday learning situations. Throughout much of the research on scientific reasoning, a pervading assumption about the “right” way to do science is apparent. This assump- tion is often overly simplistic, suggesting that the scientific method of testing hypotheses by controlling variables is the correct way to do science, when in fact there are many different methods involved in carrying out scientific work (Gleason and Schauble, 2000), and the way that scientists really go about their work can be quite different from the stereotype (Dunbar, 1999; Knorr-Cetina, 1999; Latour and Woolgar, 1986). One example is that not all sciences use hypothesis-testing in the same way. Paleontology and as- tronomy, for example, also make important use of putting together patterns or sequences into a plausible narrative. Erickson and Gutiérrez (2002) argue that it is crucial for understanding science learning to recognize the variety of methods required for rigorous scientific work. They describe an example in which qualitative observational research was necessary in order to make sense of an anomalous finding obtained with quantitative methods. We return to these issues later when discussing learners’ engagement with the practices of science. Strand 4: Reflecting on Science A large body of education research shows that, when asked questions about the nature of science, children and adults are likely to express some beliefs that contradict the notions of science held by most scientists and those espoused by philosophical and empirical accounts of scientific practice. This discrepancy in understanding the nature of science has been argued to hamper students’ attempts to learn science (Bell and Linn, 2002; Driver, Leach, Millar, and Scott, 1996; Lederman, 1992; Sandoval, 2005). Reflecting on science and its processes, as well as reflecting on one’s own science thinking, are crucial parts of everyday science thinking. One of the most consistent ways that nonscientists’ perceptions of sci- ence seems to differ from those of scientists is that many children and adults tend to perceive science as a set of established facts rather than as an ongo-

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 109 ing process of knowledge construction (Songer and Linn, 1991). And many people show little awareness of the variety of methods used in science, and they tend to misunderstand the crucial role of evidence in the science community’s process of reaching conclusions. For example, Sandoval (2005) summarizes the literature on students’ understanding of science assessed in school settings, arguing that they have difficulty with the following four aspects of science: 1. Science as constructed by people—rather than seeing science as a body of knowledge constructed through interpretation of evidence, Sandoval argues that students often seem to see science as a set of objectively true facts. 2. Science as varying in certainty—students often see science as certain knowledge. It is difficult for them to understand that because they use evidence to come to conclusions, scientists often change their conclusions when presented with new evidence. 3. Diversity of methods of science—not realizing that there are a variety of different methods involved in science, students often see science as based only on experiments. And they often tend to have trouble understanding how methods link to evidence and how evidence is used to answer questions. 4. Forms of scientific knowledge—students often are confused about the nature of different types of scientific knowledge; in particular, they see hypothesis, theory, and law as a linear sequence, going from less certain to more certain. Students are also sometimes confused about how theories differ from evidence and how models relate to real phenomena. The misunderstandings about science that Sandoval (2005) and oth- ers describe in classroom settings also have much in common with how many adults think about science. They frequently struggle with the four aspects of science listed above. In fact, one of the most powerful findings in the literature on scientific thinking is that adults as well as children have considerable difficulty taking their own thinking as an object of thought. Kuhn (1996) argues that scientific thinking is really not very different from everyday thinking, in that the difficulty of reflecting on one’s thought leads to less than good reasoning in either domain. Sandoval (2005) argues that children have better access to their own reasoning in everyday settings than they do in classroom settings. Yet the persistent observations that children and adults typically misconstrue aspects of the goals, processes, and norms   Of course there is great debate among historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science about the meanings of and relationships among hypothesis, theory, and law.

110 Learning Science in Informal Environments of science seem to imply that everyday learning does not typically build a strong basis for understanding science as a way of knowing. Strand 5: Engaging in Scientific Practices A key challenge in the study of science learning in informal environ- ments is to identify what counts as “doing science.” Traditionally, scientific endeavors make use of specialized language, equipment, and representations, and the practice of science is typically seen as following a structured set of principles in particular laboratory-like or field-specific settings. However, research focused on everyday settings has highlighted that some features of scientific practice can often be found in routine activities (Nasir, Rosebery, Warren, and Lee, 2006). At the same time, studies of scientists in their actual daily practices have shown that the processes of science do not always fol- low the structured procedures taught as the scientific method (Latour and Woolgar, 1986; Knorr-Cetina, 1999; Collins, 1985). The goal of pointing out that science-relevant practices appear in ev- eryday activity is not to suggest that they are a replacement for the more traditional activities of the science lab or field site. But, as Nasir et al. (2006) argue, recognition of the overlap between everyday activities and the “official” activities of science can highlight some valuable access points to science for learners who might not otherwise engage in scientific activities. One example they describe is the research of Warren, Rosebery, and their colleagues (e.g., Warren and Rosebery, 1996) in which teachers working with Haitian youth help them to see that a common discourse practice of argumentation that they use in their community (called bay odyans) has much in common with the kind of persuasive language that scientists use to convince one another of their interpretations of findings. Encouraging these young people to see that this comfortable style of arguing has something in common with the practice of science has been shown to positively impact their science achievement (Warren and Rosebery, 1996). Many other researchers who investigate learn- ing in informal settings have pointed to other spontaneous activities in these settings that can also be seen as part of the practice of science, including aspects of inquiry, analogy, imagining, and argumentation (Allen, 2002). As noted above, in addition to the claim that everyday practices include components of doing science, a large body of research on scientists’ prac- tice shows that their work does not faithfully follow a single strict scientific method. Many specific examples have been documented. For example, Ochs, Gonzales, and Jacoby (1996) described the imaginative “theory talk” that took place in a physics research group. In working out hypothetical possibilities, scientists were often projecting themselves into the conceptual terrain of their subject matter and producing anthropomorphic talk about the entities that they study. Such talk seems to have much in common with children’s imaginative talk. In a typical science classroom, such talk might be

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 111 at risk of being labeled unscientific. Yet while this imaginative first-person talk isn’t part of the stereotype of science, Ochs and colleagues show that it is indeed part of science. Another aspect of science practice that has often been overlooked in studies of science learning is the social nature of the enterprise. There are two relevant versions of the argument that science is social. In one, science is social in that it involves groups of people working together to build explana- tions of the natural world. They communicate to identify scientific problems; to gather, analyze, and interpret evidence; to build explanations that account for the broadest set of observations; and to critique and improve on these accounts. In the other, the social dimension of science refers to the special- ized norms and commitments that scientists share. They learn to talk in ways that build on other people’s ideas or that criticize ideas. They learn to parse the evidence from the theory in ways that allow for careful analysis. Studies of everyday science learning that do address social issues focus more on the former notion of science as a broadly social process, rather than on the sociological description of science as a specialized, normed form of interacting. Researchers have documented the fact that science is not the isolated activity that it is often perceived to be. Latour and Woolgar (1986) and Dunbar (1999) studied the process of scientists’ work and documented the importance of the social aspects of the process. Similarly, children and adults reason about issues that are important to them while interacting with other people. Studies of dinner table conversations, visits to the zoo, and other everyday activities have uncovered rich conversations on a myriad of scientific topics and using scientific forms of discourse (Blum-Kulka, 1997; Callanan, Shrager, and Moore, 1995). Families with a working-class background as well as middle-class families engage in everyday conversations about a rich range of topics, including physics, biology, religion, and metaphysics (Blum- Kulka, 2002; Tenenbaum and Callanan, 2008). Researchers (Goodwin, 1994; Stevens and Hall, 1998) have documented how scientists and doctors learn to perceive in specialized ways, often through their use of technical tools and equipment or by recognizing the meaning of something (such as a bump on the skin or a particular flower in a meadow) that nonexperts see as normal or uninteresting. That research indicates that doctors- and scientists-in-training learn these specialized modes of perception through guided participation, or apprenticeship, as part of a deliberative practice (Prentice, 2004, 2005). Yet not as much is known specifically about how children learn to perceive the world in scientific ways, although there is no reason to doubt the utility of the apprenticeship and disciplined practice learning model. Caregivers and other people around them interpret the world for chil- dren and guide them in learning about scientific topics (Gelman et al., 2004; Harris and Koenig, 2006; Harris et al., 2006). For example, one very powerful way that parents impart knowledge about the natural world to children is in their use of generic language—phrases that imply general rules, such as

112 Learning Science in Informal Environments “pandas eat bamboo” and “stars come out at night.” Gelman and her col- leagues have found that even very young children are sensitive to the subtle differences between these generic statements and more specific statements, such as “that panda is eating bamboo,” and that they make more inferences after hearing generic sentences (Gelman and Raman, 2003). By about the age of 3, children are likely to engage in causal conversations about mecha- nisms of change (Hood and Bloom, 1979; Callanan and Oakes, 1992; Tizard and Hughes, 1984). Similarly, in terms of scientific thinking, children engage with others in questioning, explaining, making predictions, and evaluating evidence (Callanan and Oakes, 1992; Chouinard, 2007). Thus, in a variety of ways, including family social activity and conversation, children may begin to learn about the content of science domains (at least in the middle-class, Western families where most of these studies have been done). Although young children and their parents may not think of any of these routine activi- ties as relevant to later science classrooms, there is evidence that they are, in fact, important building blocks for later understanding of the domains of science (National Research Council, 2007). And the vast majority of this early learning about science occurs in settings in which there is no deliberate goal of teaching particular content or skills to the child. Instead, these are first and foremost everyday social activities in which children are motivated to participate, and in which learning is occurring as a result of that participa- tion (Rogoff, 2003). The particular things that children and adults learn are likely to vary de- pending on the physical environment as well as the community and particular family in which they are living (Heath, 2007). Variation in styles of everyday conversations across families in different communities has been noted. While explanation has been a focus of much of the work on scientific reasoning, narrative or story-telling is another example of a verbal form that researchers argue is relevant to science thinking (and crucially important for learning in general) (Bruner, 1996). Aukrust (2002), for example, found more focus on explanatory talk in American family conversations about their child’s school day and more narrative conversation in Norwegian families (although both types of conversations occurred in both communities). A number of studies have focused on whether families emphasize ac- countability, factuality, or evidence. While talk about accountability or factual- ity is emphasized by parents in many cultures, there is also evidence of some variation. Heath (2007) suggests that communities with literate traditions are more likely to expect children to be accountable to facts. For example, Valle (2007) found variation in middle-class, highly educated European American parents in their conversations during a homework-like task—whether they focused on evidence in evaluating conflicting claims (e.g., whether food additives are good or bad) was related to their major field of study in col- lege. Blum-Kulka (1997) reports that Jewish American families in her study focused more on factuality in dinner conversations than did Israeli families

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 113 (who gave equal emphasis to factuality, relevance, and politeness). Although the particular ways in which families talk about science topics vary widely, it may be that discussions of concepts and causal connections in the natural world are part of the experience of most children and adults. The social nature of learning science also has consequences for how children interpret information from different adults. A growing field of study in cognitive development focuses on children’s evaluation of sources of information. For example, quite young children are able to distinguish between adults who are knowledgeable on a topic and those who are not (Harris and Koenig, 2006; Lutz and Keil, 2002). Sabbagh and Baldwin (2001) found that when hearing a new word from a speaker who admits to not be- ing certain, children did not learn the word as well as when hearing it from a knowledgeable speaker. Children also understand, at a young age, that there are experts on particular topics to whom one can turn for clarification of the true nature of things (Lutz and Keil, 2002). More research is needed on exactly how children and their social partners negotiate new understandings of science in informal settings. Ash (2002) provides vivid descriptions of families making sense of natural phenomena in museum and aquarium settings. Crowley and Jacobs (2002) explore how children develop “islands of expertise” through interactions with parents in such settings as museums. One study found that children who became experts on some science topic (as defined by keeping a particular sustained interest for at least two years) were likely to have parents who focused more on supporting their children’s curiosity and providing materials to support their interests (Leibham et al., 2005). We are aware that throughout this chapter, and in the discussion of Strand 5 in particular, we may have left the sense that all social interactions are good and positive and move the learner forward. Certainly this is not always true. Gleason and Schauble (2000) have argued, for example, that parents often miss opportunities to support their children’s learning. Goodnow (1990) argued that more sensitive attention is needed to the value judgments that parents make to support children’s learning or steer them away from topics. Current debates about evolution and creationism provide a rich example of variation in the goals and choices that parents make in how they talk with children (Evans, 2001). In adolescence and adulthood, too, what is likely to be learned may or may not be consistent with the goals of science educators. These are issues for future research to address in more depth. Strand 6: Identifying with the Scientific Enterprise Most people’s everyday activities include experiences and social interac- tions that have the potential to engage them with science thinking or science content, although people differ in the extent to which they take such oppor- tunities. Even more variation is apparent in the likelihood that one develops

114 Learning Science in Informal Environments an identity as a science learner. Involvement in science has continued to be less common for girls and for students from nondominant groups, who must navigate a number of complex influences on their participation (Margolis and Fisher, 2002; Tate and Linn, 2005). In Brown’s (2004) work on discursive identities, for example, he discusses evidence that the same child may talk about contradictory religious and scientific beliefs in different contexts. Brown shows that African-American students may talk in scientific ways when focused on how they are viewed by teachers, but the same students may use a very different discourse style when their peers tease them about this scientific style of talk. There is clearly a complex set of issues surrounding learners’ desire and willingness to see themselves as capable in science, and these issues vary depending on the age and life circumstances of the people involved. There is significant evidence that a person’s social network has a strong influence on their development of sustained interest (Barron, 2006; Lave and Wenger, 1991; Nasir, 2002). Developing and sustaining a personal, motivating connection to science (that is, an identity as a science learner) is influenced by one’s social interactions and supports. As many personal anecdotes as well as systematic evidence show, parents, peers, mentors, and teachers can help to sustain the efforts of the learner, helping them to increase their competence, especially through difficult or trying periods (Barron, 2006; Nasir, 2002). In considering these findings regarding cultural variability, however, it is important to keep in mind Heath’s (2007) cautions regarding how best to think about culture (see also Gutiérrez and Rogoff, 2003). The key issue is socialization of children into ways of thinking about science and scientific topics, according to Heath. The important variations are based on cultural practices (including ways of talking), not cultural membership. The school- ing of parents is often used as an important variable, but Heath brings up some major concerns about how schooling is viewed—including power issues. While an interest and effort in supporting children to succeed in school are broadly shared among parents across socioeconomic and other cultural groups, these factors play a powerful role in mediating how parents express their support and how they navigate the education system on behalf of their children. Some approaches have suggested that nondominant students need help in bridging their everyday practices and ideas about science with more sci- entific ways of thinking. For example, Lee and Fradd (1996) found consistent but distinct patterns of discourse around science topics in different groups of students—bilingual Spanish, bilingual Haitian Creole, and monolingual English speakers. As noted above, some researchers disagree (e.g., Warren et al., 2001; Warren and Rosebery, 1996), arguing that all students’ everyday ways of thinking include scientific skills, such as argument. Gender is another factor that is related to identity as a science learner. A

Everyday Settings and Family Activities 115 vast research literature documents gender differences in science achievement (Lawler, 2002; Mervis, 1999; National Science Foundation, 2002, 2007; Sax, 2001), and although the gap is narrowing in many areas (e.g., high school and college achievement, numbers entering fields like biology), some areas in science are still male dominated (e.g., highest levels of the academy, dis- ciplines such as physics and engineering). Research on the everyday learning of science shows that parents provide more explanations to boys than to girls (Crowley, Callanan, Tenenbaum, and Allen, 2001), mirroring research on classroom settings (American Association of University Women, 1995; Jones and Wheatley, 1990; Tenenbaum and Leaper, 2003), suggesting that the gender gap may be at least partly encouraged by social influence. Developing an identity as a science learner should also be understood as concurrent with and contingent on developing other identities. Tate and Linn (2005), for example, explored how identity influences the experiences of female engineering students of color using a multiple-identities frame- work. Their study design allows for analysis of gender and ethnic identity as semi-independent and interrelated. They explored three identity constructs: (1) academic identity, or how students engage in academic environments through such activities as help-seeking, tutoring, and mentoring; (2) social identity, or who they affiliate with, in what ways, for what purposes; and (3) intellectual identity, or understanding the knowledge base, driving ques- tions, and operating practices of the field. They found that students tended to distinguish between their social and academic peer groups. Social groups tended to consist of individuals from the same ethnic background, whereas academic groups did not and reflected the predominant ethnic background of the program. Similarly, academic groups were infrequently used for non- academic (i.e., leisure) goals. They also found that the roles that students’ identities play are context-dependent. In academic contexts, these women manifested very strong academic identities: they participated and sought help actively. At the same time, their social identity in academic contexts is characterized by a feeling of difference and not belonging. Identity can be viewed as both a critical factor in shaping educational experiences and a goal into which a broad range of learning experiences can feed. And it is an important element for all learners. While discussions of identity, including many of the studies discussed in this section, draw on widely recognized ethnic and cultural identities, promoting identification with science learning is an important issue for learners from all backgrounds. CONCLUSION Learners in everyday and family settings exemplify in their thinking and their practice the kinds of learning described in all the strands of science learning. We think the literature justifies and requires acknowledgment of the ways in which everyday science learning activities often overlap with

116 Learning Science in Informal Environments 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 valu- able 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 sys- tematic 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 knowl- edge and skills, such as those reflected in the strands. Everyday learning can- not 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 experi- ences with science to connect with more formal science learning. It is dif- ficult 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 set- tings. 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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Informal science is a burgeoning field that operates across a broad range of venues and envisages learning outcomes for individuals, schools, families, and society. The evidence base that describes informal science, its promise, and effects is informed by a range of disciplines and perspectives, including field-based research, visitor studies, and psychological and anthropological studies of learning.

Learning Science in Informal Environments draws together disparate literatures, synthesizes the state of knowledge, and articulates a common framework for the next generation of research on learning science in informal environments across a life span. Contributors include recognized experts in a range of disciplines--research and evaluation, exhibit designers, program developers, and educators. They also have experience in a range of settings--museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, aquariums, zoos, state parks, and botanical gardens.

Learning Science in Informal Environments is an invaluable guide for program and exhibit designers, evaluators, staff of science-rich informal learning institutions and community-based organizations, scientists interested in educational outreach, federal science agency education staff, and K-12 science educators.

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