Picture child's feet next to pens, pencils and paper

Open Access research that is helping to improve educational outcomes for children

Strathprints makes available scholarly Open Access content by researchers in the School of Education, including those researching educational and social practices in curricular subjects. Research in this area seeks to understand the complex influences that increase curricula capacity and engagement by studying how curriculum practices relate to cultural, intellectual and social practices in and out of schools and nurseries.

Research at the School of Education also spans a number of other areas, including inclusive pedagogy, philosophy of education, health and wellbeing within health-related aspects of education (e.g. physical education and sport pedagogy, autism and technology, counselling education, and pedagogies for mental and emotional health), languages education, and other areas.

Explore Open Access education research. Or explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research...

Thought-experiments about gravity in the history of science and in research into children’s thinking

Blown, Eric and Bryce, Thomas (2012) Thought-experiments about gravity in the history of science and in research into children’s thinking. Science and Education, 22 (3). pp. 419-483. ISSN 0926-7220

Full text not available in this repository. Request a copy from the Strathclyde author

Abstract

This article examines the main strands of thinking about gravity through the ages and the continuity of thought-experiments, from the early Greeks, through medieval times, to Galileo, Newton and Einstein. The key ideas are used to contextualise an empirical study of 247 children’s ideas about falling objects carried out in China and New Zealand, including the use of scenarios involving thrown and dropped items, and objects falling down deep well holes (as in Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland). The sample included 68 pre-school pupils, 68 primary school pupils, 56 middle school students, and 55 high school students; with approximately equal numbers in each group and of boys and girls in each group in each culture. The methodology utilised Piagetian interviews with three media (verbal language, drawing, and play-dough), a shadow stick; and everyday items including model people and soft model animals. The data from each group was categorised and analysed with Kolmogorov–Smirnov Two-Sample Tests and Spearman rs coefficients. It was hypothesised and confirmed (at K–S alpha levels .05; rs: p\.001) that cross-age and cross-cultural research and analysis would reveal that (a) an intuitive sense of gravity is present from an early age and develops in association with concepts like Earth shape and motion; (b) the development of concepts of gravity is similar in cultures such as China and New Zealand where teachers hold a scientific world view; and (c) children’s concepts of Earth motion, Earth shape, and gravity are coherent rather than fragmented. It was also demonstrated that multi-media interviews together with concrete experiences and thought-experiments afforded children the opportunity to share their emerging concepts of gravity. The findings provide information that teachers might use for lessons at an appropriate level.