The purpose of this study was to invent an instructional method to develop “Scientific Competencies” through a unit for lower secondary school students. The instructional method we devised focuses on “the ability to identify scientific issues” in “Scientific Competencies”. In this method, students do the following four learning activities in the unit of “Changes in biological and animal life”. First, students learn to appreciate issues in biology and zoology that are not researchable. Second, students judge whether the issue is researchable or not. Third, students identify the necessary information that they need to solve the issue. Fourth, students plan an experiment to help solve the issue. The instructional method was performed in classes in order to investigate its effectiveness. The respondents were 81 lower secondary school students. Based on the students’ writings on questionnaires for the classes, we conclude that our method can improve their ability to judge whether an issue is researchable or not, which is an important part of the ability to identify scientific issues.
This study involves research and analysis on the ability of reading composite graphs used for learning about solubility and includes both bar charts and graph curve charts. The field survey covering seventh and eighth grade students shows that even students who learned about composite graphs have difficulty understanding some aspects of them, such as reading the difference between the bar graphs and the solubility curves. The result of the analysis also found that poor understanding of the meaning of bar graphs or solubility curves could be a factor that makes it harder to understand composite graphs. We therefore gave a practice lesson in seventh grade. In the lesson, we introduced activities through an experiment so that students would create a solubility curve, which helped their understanding of the area or surface separated by the solubility curve. The result shows that a lesson including the activities has a positive effect for 88% students on developing their ability to read composite graphs.
This study intended to devise a method of teaching science to foster critical thinking skills in elementary school students and to verify the effect of this method through teaching practice. In order to achieve this, a method of teaching was devised whereby children are first encouraged to critically think about the ideas and thoughts of others and then encouraged to create their own ideas and thoughts based on this thinking experience. A “Question Burger Sheet” was also devised as a tool for embodying this teaching. Then, a lesson about the rules of the pendulum was taught to a class of 62 fifth-grade elementary school students in order to verify the effect of the teaching method. The results clearly indicated that the devised teaching method contributed to fostering critical thinking skills, whereby the children reflect on the experimental procedures and predict the outcome of the experiment based on their clear rationale.
In upper secondary chemistry textbooks in Japan, sulfur dioxide has mainly been described as a raw material used in the sulfuric acid industry. However, the chemical has also caused pollution-related diseases. The tendency of sulfur dioxide from manufacturing processes to cause pollution-related diseases has been written about in scientific literature since the 1970s. This paper points out changes in the descriptions of sulfur dioxide that have appeared in upper secondary chemistry textbooks in order to identify the characteristics of “chemical industry” teaching materials in Japan’s upper secondary science curriculum. Changing descriptions of sulfur dioxide in the textbooks are analyzed in terms of (1) industrial usages, (2) pollution problems or environmental issues, (3) its impact on the human body (toxicity), and (4) its relationship to derivative technology. The analysis reveals that textbooks in the 1940s labeled sulfur dioxide as a pollutant derived from copper mines. Then the chemical was described in relation to the petrochemical industry, pollution-related diseases, and environmental issues such as acid rain. Recent descriptions connect it to derivative and emerging technology (for example, desulfurization equipment) and recycled products (for example, plaster board).
In this research, we analyzed the effectiveness of making an animation by children in consideration of the topic “phase transition of water” in science classes. As a result, we found that children could successfully construct scientific concepts of “kinetic theory of gases” through the application of ICT devices and the following findings were revealed: 1. Making an animation to represent the vibration and velocity of water molecules is more sophisticated than drafting stationary pictures. 2. Children could easily understand the “phase transition of water” based on the “kinetic theory of gases” through making an animation which shows water molecules’ behavior continuously in the series of water’s three phases. 3. Teachers have to scaffold the children through the discussion theme and the usage of ICT devices depending on the case.
La main à la pâte Foundation (LAMAP) is a French organization established in 1996, which has been working both domestically and internationally on qualitative improvement in science education by introducing inquiry-based science education (IBSE). This paper describes the international activities of LAMAP, based on the qualitative data, which included authors’ experiences, interviews and observations during the 4th International Seminar, as well as handouts and documents published on their website, in order to discuss the implications on the Japanese international educational cooperation in science. The international activities were as follows: LAMAP plays the lead role in the IBSE-related projects in Europe, conducts international seminars, shares its educational resources, and conducts training programs with other countries and institutions worldwide. Forty nine non-European Educators from all over the world participated in LAMAP’s international seminar in 2013, which included workshops, lectures, presentations, and school visits over 6 days. Active interaction among participants was encouraged. The seminar introduced IBSE, emphasized language and recording during inquiry, and highlighted integration of science and technology. The program of the seminar was based on LAMAP’s past projects and experiences. However, from observations and interviews, it was found that the knowledge and skills that should be obtained and mastered by IBSE learners were unclear. Based on the analyses, if Japan aims to introduce IBSE in international cooperation in science education, there are needs to construct a Japanese IBSE framework, set good practices for IBSE activities, and clarify systems or factors that actualize IBSE in Japan. For the worldwide transmission and distribution of information, establishing a multilingual website and utilize existing regional consortia in Southeast Asian and African regions could be useful.
Scientific theories contain many propositions composed on the basis of the logic, i.e. the relationships among the theories. Such propositions cannot be confirmed by facts from experimentation and/or observation. The existence of ions cannot be seen, but it is a very important concept for learners studying chemistry. However, it is very difficult for the junior high students to commit to the concept of the existence of ions, because there is a theoretical gap between some observed facts and their existence. The purpose of this study is to have students commit to the idea of the existence of ions. In this study, the theory of Quine’s Holism was applied as the strategy of the classroom lesson. The students could commit to the idea of the existence of ions when the theoretical network of electrolysis, Volta’s battery, and the neutralization of acid and alkali were connected to each other by sharing the concept of ions on the concept map. The learners could successfully understand the ion as a pragmatic tool to explain their observations.
In this study, I aimed to determine the importance of sharing hypotheses among students in a science class where the cause-and-effect relationship is considered. Further, I aimed to examine the use of hypothesis sharing in data interpretation to determine the teacher’s perception of the lesson plan. In a case in which the lesson involved compounds of copper and oxygen, the study arrived at the following four findings: (1) Students understood the relationship between a class to conduct hypothesis sharing and data interpretation. (2) It was easier for students in a class to conduct hypothesis sharing than to construct unique hypotheses individually in order to interpret the data by using the cause-and-effect relationship. (3) As hypothesis sharing involves the cause-and-effect relationship, for data interpretation, it was easier for students to procure data with correct evidence on the mass ratio between copper and oxygen. (4) As hypothesis sharing involves the cause-and-effect relationship, it was easier for students to correctly interpret anomalous data and construct graphs of the proportional relation by using such data than via unique hypotheses.
The purpose of this study is to clarify the causal model of factors affecting the hypothesis setting ability in science of elementary school students and, further, to obtain suggestions for devising teaching methods. In order to achieve this purpose, first, a 45-item questionnaire survey was conducted on 322 6th grade students, and the following five factors that affect “the hypothesis setting ability” were identified: “rich in natural experiences”, “favor of science”, “favor of arithmetic”, “interested in nature/science and technology”, “confidence in science”. Next, “the hypothesis setting ability” was evaluated regarding two aspects: “the identification of variables” and “the recognition of causal relationships”. The students’ answers were scored, and a path diagram was drawn and analyzed using these seven variables. As a result, the following six findings were obtained: ① “Interested in nature/science and technology” co-varied with “rich in natural experiences”, being at the initial stage of causal relationships that affects “the identification of variables”. ② “Interested in nature/science and technology” and “rich in natural experiences” directly affected “confidence in science”. ③ “Favor of science” were affected by “interested in nature/science and technology” and “rich in natural experiences”, and directly affected “favor of arithmetic”. ④ “Favor of arithmetic” were affected by “interested in nature/science and technology” and “favor of science”, and directly affected “confidence in science”. ⑤ “Confidence in science” were affected by “interested in nature/science and technology”, “rich in natural experiences” and “favor of arithmetic”, and directly affected “the identification of variables”. ⑥ “The identification of variables” strong directly affected “the recognition of causal relationships”. Based on these findings, in order to improve the hypothesis setting ability in science of elementary school students, it was possible to obtain the bases and suggestions which support the possibility of guidance in order to foster students’ ability to identify variables from natural phenomena, recognize them as causal relationships, and construct hypotheses expressed in sentences.
The concept mapping method was used as a study tool to understand more about the concept groups relating to the continuity of life at the end of the study of “Reproduction and Development of Animals” in Biology I in high school. This practice was performed three times from 2010 to 2012. In the first practice, 18.1% of the learners could not notice the connections between different learning units and could not make a complete map using whole concepts of the study (level 1). Therefore, in the second and third practices, a teacher instructed learners to create one concept map using all the concept labels. As a result, it was found that 96.3% of the learners in the second practice and 100% of the learners in the third practice were able to connect the concept labels between different learning units and complete a map (level 2). Only 1% of maps from the learners of the first practice showed the continuity of life cycle concepts (level 3), but it was present in 80% of maps form the second and third practices. From the analysis of the learners’ feedback, it was evident that the learners noticed and understood the meaning of the activities much more successfully when concept group mapping was utilized.