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Young children’s imagination in science education and education for sustainability
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Our concern is in how the process of imagination situated in a cultural, social practice comes to play when children invent, anticipate and explore a problem that is important to them. We argue that in order to enhance our understanding of young children’s learning and meaning making processes when exploring issues related to science and sustainability, research that investigates imagination is fruitful.  The specific aim of this paper is to empirically scrutinize how the children’s process of imagination emerges, develops and what consequences it will bring to the situation. We approach imagination as situated as an open, unscripted act that emerges within the transactions. The empirical study was conducted in a Swedish pre-school and data were collected ‘in between’ a science inquiry activity and lunchtime.We searched for a specific video-sequence where the children invented a problem together and lived through the  process of imagination and something new was produced. Our analysis shows that imagination has a great significance when children create, extend and provide different solutions to a problem. An educational implication drawn from the study is that if the purpose is to support children’s imaginative flow then the value of teachers practicing an open, listening approach becomes vital. By encouraging the children to explore their concerns and questions more thoroughly without given any new recommendations or suggestions, the process of imagination might flourish.   

National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113445OAI: diva2:785000
Available from: 2015-02-01 Created: 2015-02-01 Last updated: 2015-02-12
In thesis
1. Naturvetenskap i tillblivelse: Barns meningsskapande kring biologisk mångfald och en hållbar framtid
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Naturvetenskap i tillblivelse: Barns meningsskapande kring biologisk mångfald och en hållbar framtid
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Science in Emergence : Children’s Meaning Making Concerning Biodiversity and a Sustainable Future
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis is to analyze children’s meaning making processes in science related to environment and sustainability at the pre-school level. This thesis examines an approach to early childhood education which is conceptualized by an explorative as well as a listening approach that specifically addresses children’s questions. The purpose is to create knowledge on how the processes develop and what specific science related content that emerges. All studies are based on a Deweyan pragmatic perspective. Study 1 “logs in” to the debate on children’s possibilities to become “agents for change” and contributing to positive changes for the environment. The results reveal that the children’s positive and negative aesthetic utterances have significance for how the process develops and is being fulfilled. The contextual aspects are imperative both for the content and for the choices the children make along the course of actions. Study 2 examines children exploring animals in a pre-school project concerning biodiversity.  Initially, the results reveal that the organisms’ appearances and movements received morphological and physiological explanations. Further on, knowledge was gained in a manner which has similarities to ecological and evolutionary ways of explaining biological phenomena. Study 3 takes departure from the discussion on the fact that sustainability related problems often are unstructured, multifaceted and conceptualized as “wicked”. The study examines how the process of imagination comes into play when children explore a sustainability related problem that is important to them. The results reveal that creative solutions come into existence when blending various experiences.  Study 4 investigates how children raise and answer science related questions by non-verbal actions. The results expose that non-verbal actions serve as inquiry, comparative systematics, visualization, question-generators as well as a public and self-reflective communication.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik, Stockholms universitet, 2015. 101 p.
Doctoral thesis from the department of mathematics and science education, 10
meaning making, science education, preschool children, education for sustainability
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113450 (URN)978-91-7649-079-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-06, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: In review. Paper 3: In press. Paper 4. Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-02-12 Created: 2015-02-01 Last updated: 2015-02-12Bibliographically approved

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