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Ninth graders in Arizona high schools have just left their elementary, general science education and are at the start of more specialized secondary science education. They are beginning a course of study that will form the foundation for tertiary education and employment after high school graduation. The research asked, Who are these kids entering high school science courses? The researchers noted that one of the key objectives of elementary education is to foster in children the concept that nature is inherently orderly and thus amenable to scientific investigation. Since the concept of order or disorder is fundamental in one’s perception of reality, the researchers reasoned that the qualitative worldview interviews on nature would be revealing of these concepts. The research led to this assertion: After nine years of schooling, ninth graders show no consistent understanding of the order in nature on which science is predicated. Instead, students often "name drop" school science topics such as the ozone layer, rain forests, or the big bang theory.


SLCSP Paper # 136

Published Citation

Cobern, William W., Adrienne T. Gibson, and Scott A. Underwood. "Leaving Elementary School with a Sense of Order in Nature." National Association for Research in Science Teaching. St. Louis, MO. 31 March to 6 April 1996.