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Preschool children’s conceptions of water, molecule, and chemistry before and after participating in a playfully dramatized early childhood education activity

Journal article
Authors Annika Åkerblom
Daniela Součková
Niklas Pramling
Published in Cultural Studies of Science Education
Volume 14
Pages 879–895
ISSN 1871-1502
Publication year 2019
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 879–895
Language en
Keywords Children’s conceptions, Drama pedagogy, Elementary chemistry, Interviews, Vygotsky
Subject categories Pedagogy, Didactics, Learning, Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences


The present study reports an empirical investigation into concept formation of young children. Based on interviews conducted before and after participating in a playfully enacted chemistry lesson at a culture center, it is analyzed how 6-year-old children conceptualize water, molecule, and chemistry. Theoretically, the study is informed by Vygotsky’s cultural-historical perspective on concept formation. The empirical data consist of pre- and post-interviews with children and documentation of their participation in the intermediate activity. This documentation is used in the post-interviews as a mutual ground for talking with the children about what they remember and how they understand the activity they participated in and what the activity intended to illustrate. The results are presented in terms of three inductively generated categories: ‘everyday’, ‘experientially-based’, and ‘generalized experiences’ concepts, respectively. The implications of these findings for early childhood chemistry (science) education are discussed.

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