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A desire to inquire : children experience science as adventure Mueller, Andrea Christiane 1998

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A DESIRE T O INQUIRE: C H I L D R E N EXPERIENCE SCIENCE AS A D V E N T U R E by A N D R E A CHRISTIANE M U E L L E R B.A., University of Ottawa, 1986 M . A . , University of Victoria, 1994 THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F PHILOSOPHY i n T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Curriculum Studies We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E UNIVERSITY O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A June 1998 © Andrea Christiane Mueller, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) 11 Abstract The purpose of this study is to explore and document the nature of children's participation in elementary school science in British Columbia, Canada. Using an ethnographic approach, extensive fieldnotes provide the foundation addressing the question "What is the activity of science in an elementary school?" Although current science curriculum documents continue to cast science at school as a possible mirror of science in the 'real' world, this is a thesis about elementary school science and a community of inquiry that evolves at school. Instead of separating process and content, this thesis emphasizes their co-emergence. Drawing upon sociocultural and enactivist perspectives, the focus is on learning and context, learner and content as they co-evolve. This study was conducted in one elementary class at the intermediate level (Grade 6/7) across one school year. The teacher and I collaborated to plan and teach science with a focus on creating opportunities for children to participate. Children embarked on three extensive science adventures with their teacher, working in teams of four or five and learning as a community of inquiry. Using audio taped records of children's and the teacher's comments, children's creations, as well as my fieldnotes, I construct a narrative of one year of school science. Researcher, children, and teacher describe what it means to participate in a diversity of ways and, if we wish to understand how children learn science it is important to listen. Data analysis reveals the importance of contexts for participation in elementary school science. In particular, I identify "spaces of inquiry" that I l l afforded students diverse opportunities to participate with science content in a community of inquiry. They are generative spaces, rehearsal spaces, and performative spaces. Spaces of inquiry are important because they provide an alternative way to think about learning and teaching science, they provide opportunities for designing collaborative group work, and they challenge educators to consider children's contributions to their science learning. Overall, this ethnographic study illustrates a dynamic interdependence of learners and their environment in this open-ended, creative adventure in and through school science. i v Table of Contents Abstract • ii-iii Table of contents ••••• iv-vii List of figures viii Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1-2 Participation 3-4 Science as adventure 5 Spaces of inquiry 5-6 Interdependence and Interconnectedness 6-8 Three Science Adventures 9 School setting 9-10 A year of elementary science 10-11 Classroom setting 11 Children 11-12 Teacher 12-13 A n Ethnography of Three Science Adventures 13 I - Data sources 13 II - Rationale for writing 13-14 III - Writing ethnography 14-15 Interpretive possibilities 15 IV - Reading ethnography 16-17 V - Summary 18 Science Adventure I: Biosphere 3 19-27 Biosphere 3 Portfolio 28-34 Children's Learning Report I 35-36 Conversation Piece I: Teacher and Researcher 37 Pedagogical perspectives 38-39 Perspectives on student learning 39-40 But is it in the curriculum? 41 The unformulated curriculum 42-43 Curriculum breathes 43-44 A body in curriculum 44-46 Science Adventure II: Vehicle Visions 47-58 Vehicle Visions Portfolio 59-62 Children's Learning Report II 63-65 Conversation Piece II: Teacher and Researcher 66 Pedagogical perspectives 66-68 Perspectives on student learning 68-71 How does participation contribute to student expertise? 72 Expertise as special knowledge 73-74 v i Expertise as process 74-75 M a n t l e of the expert 75-76 Par t ic ipa t ion and student expertise 76 Science A d v e n t u r e III: A m u s e m e n t Pa rk 77-78 A m u s e m e n t Pa rk Por t fol io 89-92 Ch i ld ren ' s L e a r n i n g Report III 93-95 Conver sa t ion Piece III: Teacher and Researcher 96 Pedagogica l perspectives 96-98 Perspectives on student l ea rn ing 98-101 W h a t counts as school science? 102 Scene I: Pa r t i c ipa t ion i n an elementary school c o m m u n i t y 102-103 Science discourse 103-104 Scientific r e a s o n i n g / t h i n k i n g 104-105 K n o w l e d g e - b u i l d i n g communi t i e s 105 Scene II: Pa r t i c ipa t ion i n a un ive r s i ty science c o m m u n i t y .. 106-109 W h a t oppor tuni t ies do communi t i e s p r o v i d e for learning? 110 Par t i c ipa t ion a n d l ea rn ing i n communi t i e s 110 Score I: C o m m u n i t i e s of practice 110-112 Score II: C o m m u n i t i e s of learners 112-113 Score III: K n o w l e d g e - b u i l d i n g communi t ies 113-114 v i i Dynamic Spaces of Inquiry 115 I - A conception of spaces 116 Participation and spaces of inquiry 117 Spaces of inquiry emerge 117-120 II - Looking inside spaces of inquiry 121 Generative spaces 121-125 Rehearsal spaces 126-132 Performative spaces 133-136 III - Looking across spaces of inquiry 137 Emergent curriculum 137-138 Emergent expertise 139-141 Emergent community 141-143 IV - Conclusion 143-144 Possibilities for Science Education 145 Weaving learning and experience 148-150 In spirit of science 150-152 Spaces of inquiry and imagination 152 Unknown 153-154 A Conversation with Two Students 155-157 Autobiographical Notes: Fish stories and a river 158-163 References 164-173 vi i i List of Figures Figure 1.1 Biodome: Plans 32 Figure 1.2 Invincible Biosphere 3: Plans 33 Figure 1.3 Invincible Biosphere 3: Model 34 Figure 1.4 The Eco Ark: Model 34 Figure 2.1 The Flycycle: Drawing 61 Figure 2.2 The Flycycle: Model 62 Figure 2.3 Apollos: Model 62 Figure 3.1 Water Wheel: Drawing 91 Figure 3.2 Water Wheel: Model 92 Figure 3.3 The Plunge: Model 92 ix Ackno wle dgm ents I would first like to thank the children who live within and inspire this work. Their desire to inquire resonates in many spaces. Of course, their teacher, Ross, was daring enough to embark on this collaborative venture and I thank him from the depths of my heart for his generosity, patience and enthusiasm. He has a very special way with children and with all who come in contact with him. M y committee members provided me with inspirational and provocative spaces to inquire. A very special thanks to my research supervisor Karen Meyer for encouraging, supporting and believing in my little drawings and emerging ideas. Never for a moment did she doubt I would find a way. I also thank Gaalen Erickson for his calm through these adventures and his delight in tacking as winds changed. A n d I'll always remember and appreciate Jackie Baker-Sennett for her energetic positive vibes that continue to breathe in my thesis and inside me. Most of all, I thank my doctoral committee for supporting me in this intellectual dance and for encouraging me to compose new steps. I remember many individuals who helped and inspired me on this journey. Gary always had an open door and an ear to discuss many aspects of grad student life and I greatly appreciated our discussions. Kass listened carefully to my wild ideas and shared theoretical confusion with me. Alison always delighted in hearing about my work and we shared special moments in rhodo heaven. Cynthia welcomed my writing and ideas and gave me the courage to dare when I needed a friend to listen. I thank Thomas for the intellectual challenges, caring guidance, and for his absolute confidence in me over the years. To Karen, my rollerblading buddy, I thank you for sharing life and laughter and recipes through this doctoral experience. A n d I thank Linda for sharing her garden of life. I deeply appreciate my friends Judy and Derek for providing a special refuge for my inspirational escapes to Victoria, and for their friendship. A n d to all my Victoria and Bamfield buddies who truly looked forward to my adventures, I am grateful. To my sister Karen and her family, I thank you for your loving support throughout my years as a graduate student. A n d to my dear friends who have provided long-distance support and confidence I am thankful. I am fortunate to have a wonderful circle of caring individuals around me who influence, inspire and guide me in my adventures. A n d I am indebted to my life companion Darren for helping me play and spin in and out and around spaces of life. I hear a songbird ... I dedicate this thesis to my Tante Gila who inspires me to breathe. 1 Introduction What if science were presented and experienced as more than a body of knowledge in schools? What if students learned that science is a way of thinking, a way of inquiring, and a social endeavour or enterprise? What if students learned that scientists are oceanographers, marine biologists, archaeologists, geologists, physicists, zoologists, botanists, chemists, meteorologists, geneticists, astronomers and environmental scientists to name just a few? What if students learned to see and feel and experience science as a sense of wonder? What if school science inspired a desire to inquire? Science in school often emphasizes the known, or the facts (Bentley & Watts, 1992; Newton, 1988; Wassermann & Ivany, 1996). Yet, science is more than simply products and processes. It is a human endeavour. Elementary science curriculum guides, however, generally emphasize expected learning outcomes, instead of inquiry in the spirit of science. In contrast, Wassermann and Ivany (1996) remind us that "to know science is not merely to learn the words, the names of science" (p.5). Their idea of "sciencing" promotes being in motion and describes a generative process and approach to elementary science education. If science curriculum focuses on sciencing, then inquiry, exploration, and adventure will feature more prominently. Science becomes a journey, not a predetermined destination. The main objective of elementary school science currently found in British Columbia curriculum guides is to provide a foundation for developing scientific literacy of citizens. Specifically, the most recent science curriculum document (Integrated Resource Package (IRP); 1995) states that school science programs in British Columbia are intended to develop scientifically literate students through four major processes: 1) working scientifically, 2) communicating scientifically, 3) using science, 4) acting responsibly. The IRP emphasizes that the "skills and processes students use are the same as those used by scientists at work" (p.3). A l l four processes imply that participation is an important aspect of school science. "The provincial science curriculum promotes an activity-based program where students learn scientific knowledge in a hands-on and "minds-on" way (p.2). However, no explanations of the scientific terminology students are expected to use is provided, nor are there any examples of how these skills and processes used by scientists might function in a classroom with one teacher and 29 students. Put another way, no guidelines or suggestions are provided for teachers about the nature of an "activity-based program" or the meaning of "hands-on" and "minds-on science." Student participation within elementary school science may be interpreted and enacted in diverse ways. Due to a lack of research attention in elementary science classrooms, little is documented about how children participate in school science or how teachers interpret the science curriculum. However, according to my experiences and research (Mueller, 1997) with student teachers on practicum in local schools and my conversations with science educators, when science is taught in schools it generally resembles prescribed and textbook approaches. What, then, does it mean for children to participate in elementary school science? 3 Participation Imagine learning how to swim without water. Swim without water. W I T H O U T W A T E R ? Read the textbook. You see the word "propulsion" and arrows indicate the direction of the water on the page. Keep your body streamlined and push the water towards your feet. But, is this possible without the experience of actually feeling the water? Imagine... learning to swim without water. Flipturn at the ends of the pool by tucking your head and flipping your feet over your body. Momentum will take you over, it says on the next page. But one day you find yourself staring at your reflection in an actual pool. The words "propulsion," "streamlining," and "momentum" ring in your ears. SWIM W I T H O U T WATER??? You get in the shallow end and realize that learning how to swim without water made no sense. In fact, it's not possible. You start all over and begin learning how to participate with the water. The experience of water allows you to begin making sense of textbook words with your body. "Feel the water " your instructor says. Move. Imagine learning how to swim co-participating with the water. You move the water and the water moves you. Participate Participate Participate Participate Participate Participate P a r t i c i p a t e 4 Learn how to "do science" without participation. Read the textbook. Answer the questions. Now, move on to the next chapter. Textbook science. Science without participation. Water molecules—surface tension—density. Read. Memorize. The momentum of science? Science without participation. Swim without water. Is this the experience of learning science educators want students to take with them when they leave school? Who takes part in science? Is it possible to participate with a textbook? Swim without water? Dive in; submerge; float. Participate with water—participate with science. Sciencing with participation. How might children participate in school science? How do scientists participate in science? Are children scientists? Are scientists students? It depends. It depends on your perspective. Overall, what might be the purpose of elementary science education? Is it to passively acknowledge and memorize the work and facts of science? Follow the textbook science. Read. Memorize. Swim without water. Or, is it to participate in scientific inquiry that provokes interest in, and wonder about the world we live in? "I wonder if?" "Let's find out!" Science is an adventure. Dive in. Participate with the water and experience. How, then, do we invite students to participate and inquire? What might be the activity of science in an elementary school? Science As Adventure What if science were presented as adventure? What if children participate with science content in a community of inquiry at school? If educators present science as adventure and invite children to join them by embarking on a cruise, what might happen? In a recent conversation with prominent Canadian oceanographer Fiona McLaughlin (February, 1998), I learned that as a representative of the Arctic Team on Contaminants in Canada, she goes on a cruise each year to collect data in the Arctic. I still remember her saying that she "never knows what will happen" or what data she will collect where, due to ice conditions, changes in weather, and the particular teams of scientists on board. Each cruise is an adventure. This scientist's experiences suggest that science in the 'real' world is not a textbook step-by-step recipe, and that many variables play a role. So, how might science at school more closely resemble the experience of science as adventure? More specifically, how might educators facilitate science as adventure? Spaces of Inquiry What if educators thought about creating science spaces of inquiry in the classroom? What if students imagine that they are going on a cruise and this cruise has a real purpose? This would be a very different way of presenting science to students and would provide opportunities for students to participate with science content and participate within a community of inquiry. Instead of beginning with a set of skills and processes or specific content to be covered, memorized and tested, one would begin with a purposeful inquiry. 6 In general, inquiry is recognized as an important dimension of learning in the context of science education. Elementary science textbooks (Shymansky et.al, 1990; Peterson and McAllister, 1991) and texts on how to teach science (Carin, 1997; Esler, 1989; Martin et. al, 1994; Rowe, 1973; Victor, 1989 ) have promoted teaching science as inquiry for many years with an emphasis on discovery, guided discovery and experimental approaches to inquiry. Here there is an emphasis on inquiry about natural phenomena in order to understand scientific concepts (e.g., density). Inquiry is broadly defined as "solving problems and developing skills" (Esler, 1989, p.45) and as "a process of investigating a problem, thinking creatively and using intuition, a search for truth or knowledge" (Martin et. al, 1994, p.191). In my study, the teacher and I created spaces of inquiry where children could ask their own questions, seek answers and gather evidence as we helped them embark on three science adventures over one school year. Children participated in scientific inquiry through a small group and class process for an extended period of time developing rich portfolios of information and knowledge. Here the science content and processes are deeply embedded in a context. If science in school is presented as adventure, and spaces of inquiry are created for students to participate in the practices of science, then students may experience a desire to inquire. For curiosity is at the heart of inquiry. Imagine, a desire to inquire. Interdependence and Interconnectedness In this study of elementary school science, I attempt to pay attention to the whole learning experience as I focus on the interdependence and interconnectedness of learners and their context. Traditionally, science 7 education has looked at individual learning outcomes and processes contained within the individual following traditional psychological notions of learning and development. Instead of focusing on the individual as the unit of analysis, I use a sociocultural perspective and direct my attention to participation at the level of the group and the community (Rogoff, 1994). In particular, I attempt to frame participation as fundamental in school science. Instead of examining science processes or science content as dichotomies, I attempt to examine them within the context where they co-evolve. It is an ecological perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) that recognizes a dynamic interdependence of learners and their environment. Put another way, you move the water and the water moves you. The purpose of this study is to explore and document the nature of children's participation in elementary school science that invites and supports inquiry. Spaces of inquiry are created to provide opportunities for children to inquire about content and concepts (e.g., water cycle, solar power, gears and pulleys) in the context of a scientific endeavour. It would also be possible to inquire about these scientific concepts explicitly using a guided discovery approach. As science educators reflect on what inquiry means in the classroom, they might ask how to contextualize science content, processes and problem-solving. M y study extends notions of inquiry generally found in science education by focusing on creating a science context where all three dimensions intertwine in collaborative adventures. I selected an ethnographic approach in my methodology because it allows me to use a descriptive lens to address the question "What is the activity of science in an elementary school?" A n ethnography of elementary school 8 science is my primary contribution to the field of education. As a secondary aim, I use a theoretical lens to explore sociocultural, enactivist, and ecological perspectives as they relate to the ethnographic piece I have constructed. Several schools of thought, advocated by sociocultural theory (Baker-Sennett, 1997; Rogoff, 1995; Wertsch, Del Rio, & Alvarez, 1995), deep ecology (Capra, 1996; Drengson & Inoue, 1995; Naess, 1995), enactivism (Davis, 1996; Davis, Sumara & Kieren, 1996; Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991) and developmental psychology (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Cole & Engestrom, 1993), recognize that individual and environment are not separate entities, but rather, they co-emerge. That is, one cannot extract learners from their environment in order to understand learning or development. I develop this position further by arguing that learner, context and curriculum are inextricably linked. In my ethnography of school science, I focus on learners, context and curriculum through children's co-participation in spaces of inquiry. These spaces of inquiry shed new light on participation, expertise, learning communities, and curriculum. 9 Three Science Adventures School Setting This narrative begins in an elementary school (K-7) in Vancouver, British Columbia, where teachers initiated a school-wide project called Physics of Architecture (1995) in order to explore scientific and mathematical concepts as a community of learners. Teachers contacted nearby university faculty and students from Science Education and Architecture to assist them in developing some rich learning experiences around the theme of architecture and science while new school buildings were being constructed on their school grounds. According to teachers, this construction project became a "wonderful opportunity to re-create in the classroom what was happening in the living laboratory at our portable doors." This collaborative endeavour prompted a focus on the teaching and learning of science in most classrooms at this school. The school's Statement of Beliefs (1995) aims at building a "nurturing learning community." Moreover, the educational program at this K-7 elementary school describes itself as "child-centred" and "encourages students to be active learners" (p.l). About three-quarters of the students in this school live in a university housing community where at least one of their parents is a full-time student. About one-quarter of these students come from a country other than Canada. Usually students have the same teacher for two years due to the transient nature of the student body (the majority remain at the school only as long as a parent attends university). 1 0 More specifically, my research is situated in an elementary school where a school-university partnership has been nurtured for several years. Along with several faculty members, I became involved in efforts to improve the teaching of science in this school. I participated in and nurtured a partnership between the school and university by engaging in discussions with teachers at monthly school meetings, and by providing support for science curriculum development in the school. More broadly, I tried to make teachers aware of the diverse approaches to teaching science within various classrooms in the school, and I coordinated mutual science projects among classes. For example, in collaboration with intermediate teachers I helped plan and develop a school science curriculum in response to new curriculum documents. In the second year of working with teachers, I tried to focus on the teaching and learning of science with one teacher over a full school year. This latter project provided data for this dissertation study. A Year of Elementary Science (September 1995 - June 1996) For one school year, the teacher and I collaborated on the planning and teaching of science in his Grade 6/7 class. The first month of the school year served as a familiarization period for students, teacher and myself. Initially, I visited the class two or three times each week, assisting with the program at hand. In the second month, the teacher organized students to begin a science project on the solar system, and I came to the school on the days when they had science periods, usually two times a week. It was on a professional development day in October that the teacher and I designed a plan for a first science adventure with students. This was also a planning adventure for both of us in our collaborative efforts to teach science. After this first adventure we enthusiastically planned a second science adventure together 11 and on the third adventure the teacher suggested students join us in the planning. During these science adventures, students initially had 2-3 science periods a week for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. A n d , often they were given large blocks of time (two hours) as well entire days towards the end of each adventure. Nothing was fixed. Just like the oceanographer who must remain flexible and responsive to change, such as ice flows, we too, remain flexible and adapt to changing conditions in the classroom. Following each day I spent in the classroom, I wrote fieldnotes about the day's events and so I have an extensive account of how the year unfolded. Classroom Setting Surrounded by forest on three sides, with a steep dirt trail to the Pacific, a string of portable classrooms provide temporary refuge for approximately 300 school children while a new school is built. Up the steps to the last portable on the edge of the forest, through the brown wooden door, a symphony of colours welcomes. A gallery of students' work covers the walls and the room appears alive. Looking around the room 1 see seven long heavy tables and 29 chairs, a teacher's desk, three old computers, one dot matrix printer, two unconnected washrooms used for storage, one sink with no running water, four large blackboards, two book shelves with encyclopedia Britannica and dictionaries, a small storage cupboard with paper and pencils, glue and tape, a small area carpet, old couch, and an easy chair. Twenty-nine students and one teacher live together in this space, where they work and eat their lunches. They have no conventional science materials. When it rains, the portable leaks. Children I observed, participated and learned with a Grade 6/7 class for one school year of elementary science. The class was comprised of 29 students; 20 in Grade 7 and nine students in Grade 6. There were 16 girls and 13 boys in the class. Together, students represent Division 02 at the school and resided in portable 1 2 classroom No. 1 for the 1995-1996 school year since their school was under construction. Six students were designated E.S.L. (English as second language students); three students received learning assistance support on a weekly basis; one student was designated A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) and had a child care worker to provide assistance weekly; two students attended the local high school for an advanced math program and advanced French weekly. Students in this class represent a wide range of backgrounds. Six of the students immigrated to Canada in the last three years. Eighteen students have one parent who is a student at the local university; seven of these parents were enrolled in graduate programs. About one third of the students comes from a home where at least one of their parents is a professional, (children's names used in this dissertation are pseudonyms) Teacher Ross (pseudonym), the classroom teacher, is an experienced professional who has taught full-time for a span of seven years. He taught a straight Grade 4 for one year; acted as teacher-on-call in a second school district for one year; taught Grade 4/5 in a team-teaching setting for two years; taught Grade 5/6 and computer science for one year; and he has taught Grade 6/7 for two years prior to participating in this study. During these teaching years, Ross sought out opportunities to coach children in various sports (e.g., basketball, volleyball, track, soccer, softball), acted as staff chairperson for two years and as computer resource teacher for three years. 1 3 In university Ross studied general arts and physical education for three years, and then transferred into the education program for his final year at the University of British Columbia. He obtained his Bachelor of Education degree in elementary education with a focus in social studies and physical education. After his first year of teaching, Ross completed a fifth year diploma in computing studies while acting as a teacher on call in the Vancouver area. A n Ethnography of Three Science Adventures I - Data Sources - A year of elementary science I have pages upon pages of fieldnotes; one-hundred and twenty-one to be exact. I have children's drawings and research reports representing 21 different teams with four or five students in each team. I have 101 children's self-evaluations from all three science adventures. I have 47 90-minute audio tape recordings of conversations with children individually, in pairs and in teams, as well as conversations with the teacher. I have nine 120- minute videotape recordings of children's presentations and works in progress. In addition, 69 photographs add to my data collection of three science adventures. I have my memories of this experience. These can not be counted. Moreover, countless informal conversations with children, teachers and researchers also influence my perceptions about this year of elementary science. II - Rationale for Writing Ethnography has the potential to be informative from an educational perspective. In her groundbreaking ethnographic work, Practice makes 1 4 practice (1991), Britzman, for example, suggests that the reason we might do ethnography "is to think the unthought in more complex ways, to trouble confidence in being able to 'observe' behaviour, 'apply the right technique', and 'correct' what is taken as a mistake" (p.236). Furthermore, she suggests that "ethnography can offer education a more complicated version of how life is lived" (p.231). Similarly, I believe that an ethnography of one class participating in elementary science over a school year will express some of the complexities of learning and teaching science, and some of the possibilities - a science in the making. This work is intended to be communicated in the form of a dialectic / discussion that moves back and forth from practice to theory. Part I uses an ethnographic approach to describe three science adventures, thus providing the context and purpose for discussions about one year of elementary science in one classroom. Using reflections from my fieldnotes, students' reflections, and the teacher's reflections, I construct an interpretation. After each science adventure I pause to propose a way of thinking about the prior educational venture. Part II introduces and establishes the conceptual framework which I developed to analyze or portray the main highlights of the data. Part III addresses how this study might provide possibilities for enacting elementary science in classrooms. Ill - Writing Ethnography "The ethnographic project has changed because the world that ethnography confronts has changed" (Denzin, 1997, xii) The way one chooses to write ethnography communicates a particular stance (Van Maanen, 1988). 1 5 In my writing of ethnography I seek to weave my educational research experiences in the elementary classroom with my personal reflections and academic writing. Similarly, regular discussions with the teacher about the actual science curriculum and his struggles with teaching science influence the narrative I write. While in the classroom I carried with me my past experiences as a student and as a teacher. In my writing, as researcher, I attempt to reflect this evolution of ideas by weaving practice and theory in this narrative of science education. It is therefore not a conventional or traditional ethnography (Becker et. al, 1961; Heath, 1983; Wolcott, 1973), but rather, an interpretive ethnography (Denzin, 1997; Ellis and Bochner, 1996). I place an emphasis on the graphy, or the writing (Bishop, 1994; Richardson, 1994), as I write what I describe as ethnographic impressionism. Interpretative Possibilities a story unfolds about science? about drama? about learning? multiple interpretations possible listen it depends it depends on your perspective it depends on the purpose in the telling the purpose why this story? why this angle? why this framing now ? 1 6 One could say I write narratives about elementary science education. Others might say I write narratives about science and drama. A narrative about collaborative group work; a narrative about the leaders or non-leaders in the group; a narrative about girls learning; a narrative about boys learning. But, it is also a narrative about collaboration between a teacher and a researcher-teacher. As researcher - teacher - writer, I have decided to frame my narrative around three science adventures undertaken by 11 and 12 year old children during this school year. Each science adventure unfolds over a five to six week period. In many ways it was like a science improvisation. Children began with an opening challenge to embark on a scientific journey. At the beginning there was a challenge. Then children had a specific block of time to participate. At the end of each adventure children interacted with an audience sharing their learning adventures. not a cookbook kind of trip not a script a story unfolds students & teacher & researcher learn along the way learning by inquiry building curiosity as a class together IV - Reading Ethnography In the end, it is not sufficient to understand only the preserved and transformative elements of writing ethnography, but rather, it is necessary to understand how reading ethnography can be transformative. Perhaps, the distinction between readerly and writerly texts first made by French literary critic Roland Barthes (1974) offers a way to perceive reading and writing transformative ethnographies. Barthes described a readerly text as a controlling, predictable text, whereas he described a writerly text as less predictable and discomforting for the reader (cited by Sumara and Luce-Kapler, 1993). Sumara and Luce-Kapler (1993) apply this idea of readerly and writerly texts to action research suggesting that the 'readerly' research text intends to instruct seeking to eliminate ambiguity and unpredictability. In contrast, a 'writerly' research text intends to be ambiguous and unpredictable, inviting readers to engage with the research to formulate their interpretation. Consequently, a transformative reading of ethnography requires not only the writer, but the reader, to engage in interpretation of the constructed narrative. As a writer, I invite readers to engage in interpretation throughout this intended writerly piece. the reader makes interpretations too I hope a reading will raise questions inspire invite further inquiry curiosity V - Summary As the study of a culture, ethnographies offer us the opportunity to take a closer look. A detailed description of children participating in elementary science for one school year will provide a context for thinking about learning and teaching elementary science. Second, as a teacher and as an educational researcher, my interpretative ethnography provides a particular educational perspective of an evolving classroom culture. In my telling, I consider the perspectives of children, teachers, and myself as researcher/teacher. As a writer, I make choices about the narratives I write about one year of elementary science in an attempt to open up a conversation about the purpose of elementary science. Overall, my purpose in writing this ethnography includes transforming our memories of passive textbook school science to fresh images of a participation-rich science in school. I aim to write creatively, actively engaging the reader with the changing rhythm and music of this ethnographic dance. i y Science Adventure I: Biosphere 3 Biosphere 3 - The Challenge The Canadian Scientific Council has announced a competition for the creation of the Biosphere 3. The tendering process is now open to all companies or universities that are interested. If your proposal is to be accepted, deadlines for submission of each stage of the project are listed below. The objective of the Biosphere 3 project is to create a self-contained environment that will support six individuals for a period of two years. Upon entering the building, the participants will not be permitted to have contact with the outside world. This means that all supplies necessary must be brought into the facility before the experiment begins. Designing a structure that will meet these objectives is a difficult task. The Canadian Scientific Council will evaluate each design on its merits. Has your submission considered the "systems" necessary to support life? How is this reflected in the design of your building? Please remember that each proposal will have the opportunity to present their entire package to the panel during the third week of December. During this presentation be prepared to defend the decisions you have made. We look forward to working with you during the tendering process. Sincerely, Canadian Scientific Council Seeds of a Science Adventure O n Friday, October 20, 1995 I was invited to meet with intermediate teachers to participate in planning for the new science curriculum implementation. I recorded the following in my fieldnotes afterwards: 20 We met in one of the more cozy portables at 9:30 and worked together until approximately 12:30. The artwork on the walls was wonderfully creative and captivating. We sat down with two Integrated Resource Packages (IRP) for elementary science, fondly dubbed "erps," and started brainstorming some ideas. Teachers talked about what they were doing presently in their classrooms and commented on the good ideas. There was talk of materials, resource people, planning an open house for science, time table issues, students' interests, availability of funds and dark nights in Arizona. Someone had picked up yummy muffins and tea was made to keep us warm in the somewhat chilly portable classroom. Dark nights in Arizona ... Biosphere 2 experiment ... we had the seeds of an idea. Ross was committed to structuring a science program for the full school year, and together he and I brainstormed and outlined ideas. Although the other intermediate teachers were welcome to plan with us, they put it this way, "we're going to watch and learn from you." A t this juncture our paths separated for the purposes of planning the science curriculum. We wanted to go exploring. It was to be an adventure for the students, but also for us. I remember Ross saying, "I want to do something new." H o w would Ross and I organize the learning environment? We decided that students would work in groups, and each group would present their findings in a final presentation at the end of the project. However, we had no idea what wou ld unfold in response to our science challenge. We were all about to embark on a scientific adventure. It was just under five weeks before Christmas holidays began, so we would need to be finished then. Initially we planned on 2-3 periods of science a week, but by the end of the project we gave students entire afternoons and days. This was an emergent curriculum. We d id not work through a textbook in order to answer chapter questions. Together, as a classroom community, students and teachers pursued the goal of Biosphere 3. One student pointed out, "we're learning along the way." Fieldnotes - Tuesday, December 5,1995. Today small groups of students presented their blueprint plans (floor plan and profile) to the class with a verbal explanation about their biosphere. Comments and questions about group blueprint plans followed each presentation. The nature of the comments and questions were intended to highlight innovative ideas, further explanations and to make suggestions. Plans were handed in to the Council (Ross and I) after presentations so that a closer examination of plans could take place. It was our first opportunity to hear from all groups and get a collective sense of what they had accomplished, and to hear about their struggles. It was also an opportunity for students to listen to their peers and learn from and with them. What did teams of students find out so far? What did they still need to think about? How might students best communicate what they had learned? Students presented some of the following ideas as part of their initial plans. One team of students named their Biosphere 3 the "Eco-Ark" and they listed the following as possible components: solar panels plant/science room underground storage crop rotation system greenhouse effect in dome library back up power compost water tanks extra supplies fish farm, cows, goats fans library/computer room no vegetarians Another team of students named their Biosphere 3 the Invincible Bio and listed the following as part of their plans to date: 2 2 solar power panel science lab food storage doctor's office leisure room recycling room water tower exercise room kitchen medicine room pets vegetarians family with baby In response to the above presentations class members asked several questions. These are but a few of the questions students asked. 1) What will you do with your sewage? 2) What if biosphereans reproduce? 3) Do you think you'll have enough oxygen? 4) Don't you think that will be too expensive? 5) Do you think you'll have time to play basketball? 6) What purpose does the rainforest have in your biosphere 3? 7) What is the beach for? 8) Where does the water come from? 9) How will you treat your sewage? 10) How big are the solar panels? 11) What kind of animals? 12) How big is the base? After these preparatory presentations Ross and I indicated, "the Canadian Scientific Council will sit down with the plans and provide comments to the group as a whole and specific feedback to individual groups." At this point in the adventure, Ross and I became overwhelmed with the immensity of the science challenge we had given students. Now that we found ourselves players within the science context of Biosphere 3, we realized how complex this endeavour would be. A n d this was only the beginning. After some discussion around team blueprints and the questions provoked by students' presentations, the teacher and I charted "items to consider" as a guideline for our comments to the class as a whole. I recorded the following points in my fieldnotes: 2'5 Items to consider: • clarify self-contained environment • dimensions on drawings in cm (length, height, width) • reminder that this is a scientific endeavour • stress, no contact with the outside world • emphasis on systems necessary to support life • specifics about supplies (e.g. how many cans of what?) • water tanks (how much water for two years?) • typical day of biospherian (what will they do?) • each group to provide explanation of biosphere with final model/plans • need specific information and sources for the following: 1) water cycle in dome, 2) crop rotation, 3) solar panels, 4) composting, 5) greenhouse effect, 6) methane as fuel, 7) oxygen pumped to circulate in building, 8) water flowing through pipes. These were complex issues, each requiring specific expertise. How would students respond? Over time we would come to know their responses. Fieldnotes - Tuesday December 5, 1995. Students are very excited about the biosphere challenge. They have put in an incredible amount of work. Parents have also expressed their excitement and involvement in this endeavour. Students are cruising the internet and checking biosphere sources for their information. When Ross told students that they could not discuss their plans with the class until the end, they objected and insisted that they wanted an exchange of ideas now. Students also pointed out that this is the way companies and groups work together to develop the best possible product. They also noted that working in groups was a critical component of the process. Ross noted that he has noticed an incredible shift in leadership roles in the groups that he is happy with. We agreed to do an audio tape session before Christmas re: all the things he has noticed about the students working together in science, as well as our work together. After students' blueprint presentations, we asked them what design highlights and design problems they had noticed in team presentations. We both wrote students' responses on chart paper for reference. This too was to become a regular practice in the classroom. Charting students' ideas was a way to spread/share our expertise. It was also a way for students to identify 24 strengths and weaknesses in each other's proposals. The teacher and I recorded the following as students responded: Design Highlights • solar panels • dome structure (max. sunlight; even light) • recycling H2O • greenhouse triangle structure • sliding panels to block and control sunlight • farmland - crop rotation • black rubber hoses to heat H2O • using methane as fuel • use of computers (library; monitor rain; soil; H2O control solar panels; monitor H2O storage; security?) • rotation of animals • exercise rooms • 0 2 pump to circulate to buildings • temperature control Design Problems • H2O treatment; recycling • space limitations • animals I farmland underground • H2O storage • H2O that exists - any purpose? (e.g.,waterfall) • where to locate different sections • luxury/necessity • roots of plants/trees • too many rooms • choice of what is important in biosphere (rank in order of importance) • not enough sunlight • kind of trees/plants • use of too much space That same day we posted the following notice for Biosphere 3 teams: Flash Bulletin: 1) Engineers anticipate problems with floors in Biosphere 3. (e.g. weight of soil, water, crops, animals) 2) A decision has been reached to extend the floor space to an area of 10 portables. 25 The Biosphere 3 adventure was in progress, and a diversity of students' ideas continued to propel teams towards the presentation day. It was December 6th and in 14 days students would present their Biosphere 3 models and ideas to the Canadian Science Council. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, December 19,1995. Students are putting final touches on their models and asking about tomorrow's agenda. No extensions are given. Some groups still have a lot to do it seems. We decided to put up guidelines for tomorrow's presentations. In 15 minutes: 1) Describe your model in detail. 2) Explain how the systems work in your biosphere, (e.g., waste, water, electricity) 3) Present an argument for why your biosphere should be chosen. 4) Time for questions from audience. *15 minutes includes set-up time. Ross and I decide to bring food for celebration and get dressed up as the Science Council. We will invite the school engineer to hear the presentations and provide comments. I will make up invitations for the presentation order and remember to bring the camera. The Agenda: Biosphere 3 Presentations/Celebration 1995 9:00 - Team Invincible Biosphere 3 9:15 - Team Biodome 9:30 - Team E.L.R. 9:45 - Team Eco Ark 10:00 - Team Biosquare 10:25 - Refreshment Break 10:45 - Team Biocycle 11:00 - Team D.A.J. 11:15 - Team Biobubble 11:30 - Discussion and Biospherian Celebration 26 "Remember that you are in role and are presenting to the Science Council of Canada." I remember that day. I wore a dark green silk shirt with a black bowtie and black pants. Unknowingly, Ross also had on black pants and a dark green tie that matched my shirt. Without commenting directly students indicated they were impressed. This was an important occasion. We were about to hear proposals for a future Biosphere 3 on behalf of the Canadian Science Council. I remember the feeling in the room. A feeling of respect and of wonder. In role as representatives of the Canadian Science Council, teacher, school engineer, and I heard from fish biologists, engineers, doctors, marine biologists, farmers, and various other specialists portrayed by students. In response the Council asked questions about water pressure, composting systems, and sewage, for example. A voice inside my head whispered to me remember these are 11 and 12 year old students presenting their ideas. The biospherean celebration that followed was an opportunity to celebrate students' efforts and learning. O n two long tables at the front of the portable classroom lay an array of dessert delights arranged on white table cloths. Students dined on banana chocolate chip bread, applesauce cake, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, as well as other desserts. Ross and I talked about how impressive the science performance had been and how unfortunate that more individuals could not see it. Thereupon I suggested that they come to U B C and present for my pre-service science methods class in the New Year. So, we turned the question to the students, asking them if they were interested. I noted the following that day in my field notes: 2 7 Fieldnotes - Wednesday, December 20, 1995. Tables were rearranged to accommodate all presenters and invitations were given out to each group. Presentations started promptly at 9:00 a.m. Many students were dressed up for their presentations. * The nature of the questions asked by the students were tough and very specific in comparison to the questions they asked at the beginning of this unit. *The school engineer remarked that he was impressed by the models and the depth of knowledge displayed by the students. * I have invited the students to present at UBC the first week back in January and to display their models at the university. They are quite, excited about this invitation. Only two days before the Christmas holidays begin. 28 P t o s i p j j e r e 3 p o r t f o l i o : s a m p l e o f c f n l b r e n ' s ; c r e a t i o n s ! 29 The Biobubble: Special things to remember Tilipia A small about one foot long fish. They are fast growing and eat just enough algae off the pond to control it. The tilipia fish is from Africa. They live in fresh water ponds, but do not mind a little bit of pollution. They are a good source of food, but are really bony, but who cares. Banty chickens The banty chicken is a small chicken about one foot long. They are very smart for chickens; in the wild they roost in trees for safety. The banty chicken is a very tough bird (not hard to chew). It doesn't mind hot or cold weather. Special Cycles - Water Cycle Our dirty water is dumped into a large tank in a place where the sun will shine. The sun will evaporate onto the dome ceiling and then drip down into a bowl that goes all the way around the edges. Then it will be pumped into our marsh. It will filter through the marsh into a tank. There is a machine in the tank that tests the water to make sure nothing bad is in it and then it goes through one more filter to our taps. Special Effects Our special effect is the sliding panel on the roof. I will explain how the roof works. There are six arms expanding from the roof, but only two arms come out at a time. If from the top we need to slide the panel to the right side, the arms on the right grab the roof and slowly slide it down until it hits a little ridge sticking out. Then the arms that are on the top will slide down. (This will provide shade for crops and animals when it gets too hot inside the dome.) 3 0 The Biobubble: List of Supplies wood chairs - 7 all things to be grown: tilipia fish - 3 males, little round coffee table carrots - 24 seed packs 4 females sweatshirts -10 potatoes -12 packs sucker fish - 4 books -12 dozen onions - 14 bulbs mosquitoes - 200 dog -1 (company) corn - 27 packs frogs - 75 horses - 2 radishes - 7 packs mushrooms - 60 edible bikes - 6 broccoli - 5 packs ladybugs - 30 rabbit -1 (young boy) spinach - lots of iron - 15 aphids -10 kitten - 1 packs banty chickens - chicks big rabbit pen/cage lettuce -10 packs goats- 2 males, 3 females hay -12 bales tomatoes -17 packs cats - 6 dog food - 24 big bags pepper - 3 packs spiders of any sort - 60 sheet -10 peas -18 packs except poisonous pillows - 6 total seeds -1044 cupboards - 7 big shelves - 3 sleeping bags - 6 good pairs hiking boots light blankets - 6 -12 (sizes to fit people; 2 dining table - for 6 different sizes for child) suntan lotion - 10 huge socks - 6 each bottles 10 pairs good pants each plates -12; forks -12; winter jackets - 6 knives -12; spoons - 12; rain jackets - 6 bowls -12; mugs -12 rocking chair - 1 love seat -1 couch -1 3 1 The Biobubble: Personnel List (3 of 6 individuals) Marine Biologist: Sharon Collins is Tyler's mother. She is also a marine biologist. She loves her job, but is also very dedicated to Tyler. She spends all her spare time with him, so she is a very busy woman. She is always very energetic and funny. She loves all kids and animals and is always ready with a new game or idea. She is a great person and would love to be in the biosphere. Child: Tyler Collins is Bryan's 8 year old son. He is 4'4" with light brown hair and blue eyes. Like his dad he loves animals and enjoys helping him care for them and playing with them. Tyler is very able to play alone and take care of himself, but when he is asked he can work very hard. Tyler, again like his dad, is very musical. His favourite is the drums. Tyler is an experiment because if we actually put this biosphere into space, children will have to live too. He can also help on the farm and take care of the animals. Tyler also has a pet rabbit to take care of. Doctor: Bryan Collins is a 38 year old very experienced doctor. He has specialized in herbal remedies. He also has a great love for animals because he grew up on a farm. He worked as an assistant veterinarian before going to medical school. Bryan is responsible for checking the health of the people and the animals in the Biosphere 3. He is also responsible for making herbal medicines when needed. Bryan also plays the guitar and sings - this will be important for entertainment. '52 Figure 1.1: Biodome: Plans 3 0 0 o Q0Q.O ; Q O Q • O O O O 3 0 & 0 Q ' O Q O -•> o o o o o f l o ! •—r ~ — = - =3* * : * • * • * . o l 0 o O 5 C 6 t^a^vo V . I! o r • rf cO -y' 8,4 S i * o o Figure 1.2: Invincible Biosphere 3: Plans 35 Children's Learning Report I Biosphere 3 Self-Evaluations (Dec.21,1995) 1. Explain your contributions to the Biosphere 3 project. 2. Give yourself a letter grade and justify why you have earned this mark. 3. Describe what you learned while working through this project. Students responded to all three questions on their self-evaluations after the Biosphere 3 science project. For the purpose of this piece, you will hear students' responses to one of three questions. "Describe what you learned while working through this project." A profile of responses from two groups is provided below. Self-evaluations were written after the final presentations on the same day. Eco-Ark: Three Grade 7 girls, Christa, Celia, and Bria, and one Grade 6 girl, Aurora, formed this team. Christa writes the following : "I learned how hard it is to cooperate in a group; what a photovoltaic panel is; what a hydroponic greenhouse is; that bad media attention can be very bad for a biosphere; how difficult it is to find the ecosystems for a biosphere; how hard it is to develop different systems and incorporate them in your biosphere; I learned a lot about the Biosphere 2 from the articles; how to use scale on a model; tips for model-making; marshes are the best way of purifying water; how neat it is to do a presentation in front of a large group of people." Celia notes, "I learned about how to work in a group; I learned that it is hard to put everyone's ideas into one and from those ideas get a good product; how to work with people; to improve the project I would have tried harder to understand other people's opinions/ideas; I learned what scale is and how it works; how to build better models; I learned how to draw floor plans; I learned that marshes are the best way to clean water." And, Aurora writes, "I learned how to use space wisely; you need lots of information about a habitat to make a biosphere; tilipia fish grow very fast; cat's eat fish guts; how to make water currents; how one group used a panel for reflection because one side is hot and the other side is cold." Bria states, "for the reasons I explained earlier, I did not learn anything." (When asked about her comment, Bria explained that she felt she had little say in the direction of the project. However, she did participate in all aspects of group work.) The Biosquare: Two Grade 6 boys, Kyle and Damion, and one Grade 7 boy, Carl, were members of this team. Kyle writes, "I learned how to build better models; how to work with others; learning how hard it is to come up with ideas and trying to convince everyone else in the group to like it; how fun it could be." Damion notes, "that marshes are great filters; how hard it is to do a project like this; how algae produced oxygen; I learned how to work with people who don't argue with you." Carl states, "I learned how many components are required to support life; how hard it is to work in groups." 37 Conversation Piece I: Teacher and Researcher Reflections after "Biosphere 3" science project (January 26th, 1996) It was a damp winter day in portable classroom No. 1 as Ross and I sat on a vinyl couch and an old brownish-red arm chair with a mini tape recorder on a wooden stool between them. The children had gone home, and it was unusually quiet in portable N o . l . Ross told me he did not mind the audio taping, though later he admitted that he wasn't too sure how it would go and was glad that it was more of a conversation to him, rather than an interview. It began this way, when I ask, "Why was this project so successful? What do we think? " In the hour that followed Ross and I exchanged ideas as we reflected together upon the adventures of the Biosphere 3 project with students. As researcher, I had prepared the following points to guide the reflective conversation. Fieldnotes - Tanuary 24,1996. Some thoughts to guide the conversation: Talk about the challenge. Talk about small group work. Talk about our partnership. Talk about our expectations of students. Talk about the process of presenting to the larger group and sharing of information throughout the project. Talk about final presentations to Science Council. Talk about presentations at UBC. Feedback from students, parents, other teachers. 3 8 In Summary: Why was this science project/unit so successful? What were the important components of this project? What worked really well? What didn't work? What did we notice about the students? What do we think they learned? (self-evaluations) Would you do this again? Any changes? However, it was rare that I posed these particular questions as written. But rather, these points of discussion seemed to emerge naturally in the conversation. It was the first of such conversations to follow each of the three science projects and neither Ross nor I was quite sure how it would unfold. Pedagogical Perspectives: Ross began by referring to one of his students; "It always comes back to Celia's comment after the presentations that it had relevance - it had meaning. She gave the example of burning sugar on the bunsen burner. It had no relevance to her at all. And this (Biosphere 3 project) was real to her and that makes a huge difference." Later , Ross emphasizes that what was really important in this project was that, "... and all of a sudden science left the classroom. Science went home. And science involved parents and it involved their friends. And there were discussions between classes about the biospheres. And they (students) were quite proud about bringing kids in at lunch time to show what they were doing." Moreover, as Ross asserts, "/ think ... it relates to enthusiasm doesn't it? I mean, we (teacher and I) were excited about it and that enthusiasm is catching. If you're excited about teaching and you're excited about what you're doing that enthusiasm is contagious. And I think that's really important too that you really have to be into it." Thereupon, he adds, "We're both, I think we're both enthusiastic about science. And we 3 9 both like kids. That makes a big difference." Yet, Ross admits, "There's no doubt it takes a hell of a lot more time than your regular out of the book science class, but, I think the payoff is tenfold." Perspectives on Student Learning: First, Ross draws upon students' self-evaluations about what they perceive they learned, and upon comments made to him from parents, prospective teachers, and other teachers in his school. He put it this way, "and the teachers were incredibly impressed with the knowledge these kids had; and the way they went through everything and took their models apart and explained floor by floor; explained their systems; and teachers and kids had a chance to ask questions. It was great." Ross also refers to the culminating event at U B C when he remarks, " J mean it was amazing the knowledge they acquired in one month." Later in the conversation I point out, "even if you just compiled what they learned, it's way beyond what I expected them to learn." In response Ross adds, "and ... the fact that we didn't go out to teach these set concepts you know. We knew we were doing the biosphere, and we were looking at systems. What did they pick up from that? It's quite amazing really." These comments seem to focus primarily on students' acquisition of knowledge within this project. However, secondly, Ross and I recognize that students learned together as a group and as a classroom community. I began by saying, " so, I guess another thing to talk about is the small group work. I think it was a big part of it... and students' self-evaluations speak to this when they say they learned that it was really tough to work in a group." A n d Ross reflects, "And I think there are always times in a group where you are going to experience difficulties. It's those skills I think that are one of the most important things you can learn school." 4 1 But is it in the curriculum? What does "learning along the way" mean pedagogically? "We are called to join in a dance whose steps must be learned along the way, so it is important to attend and respond (Bateson, M.C; p.10)." What, then, does it mean to participate in school science? What learning opportunities did Biosphere 3 occasion? "But, is it in the curriculum?" is a question frequently asked by a diversity of individuals both inside and outside schools (teachers, administrators, parents, popular press). At the same time, it is generally understood that teachers follow the curriculum. Just follow the curriculum, or the yellow brick road. Both sound like a predetermined path with a predetermined endpoint, and it is not that simple. There is no worn pathway. In contrast, Grumet (1995) announces that curriculum is the whole event - the school, the text, the exams, meeting with parents. Put another way, curriculum is what teachers and students do with the text (curriculum document). Ours was a Biosphere 3 curriculum. So, if curriculum is not solely scores of fixed notes in black on white, then, how does curriculum unfold? Does a curriculum breathe, perform, express itself? If we begin to hear a curriculum as alive, full of diverse energies, instead of inert and unchanging, what are the sounds of curriculum? Listen. Together, students and teacher are the instruments of curriculum. Listen to the sound of students' questions throughout an evolving Grade 6/7 science project "Biosphere 3" as students ponder possibilities. "What water system will we use and how will we recycle our water?" "What shape do you think is the best for a biosphere?" "How much space should we have for the crops and how much space for us to live in?" "What if we get too much heat 4 2 inside here?" These questions provided but beginnings of in-depth discussions generated by students, which then guided their research and actions. As teachers, we were often genuinely surprised by student expertise demonstrated in these unstructured, undirected moments. The teacher and I created spaces of inquiry and, together, with the students, we enacted our curriculum. Curriculum theorists describe and interpret curriculum in multiple ways. In addition to the formulated or text description of curriculum, other elements merit particular attention. For example, the unformulated, the living and the body in curriculum provide alternative ways to focus and reflect on curriculum. It is critical to realize that students and teacher may journey together to bring forth meaning. Thus, our curriculum became a journey, and teachers and students are adventurers rather than tourists. Events unfolded as we learned along the way. The Unformulated Curriculum The usual focus of curriculum on formal and formulated knowledge would never reveal the richness of the learning experience briefly mentioned above. Instead, it would imply that a test or the final product or presentation confirms or represents student experience in this science project. Yet, formulated knowledge is like the surface of the ocean; it is only that which we can see. What diversity lies below? Advocates of enactivism (Davis, Sumara & Kieren, 1996), for example, propose we direct our attention to "unformulated tacit embodied knowing that we continuously enact as we move through the world" (p.10). More specifically, as Davis et. al (1996) express it, enactivism draws our attention to the undirected, unstructured, 43 unformulated actions and interactions that play a central role in learning, in addition to final products. These actions and interactions are important moments of student learning and expertise. Undoubtedly, the sounds of exploration and of silence within these science adventures occasioned many serendipitous moments the teacher and I could not have imagined. The Biosphere 3 adventure, for example, did not end with a final presentation and final models. The open question period at U B C , for example, revealed more than we could see in a model and presentations throughout the project because of this particular opportunity to engage and interact with adults. The diversity below the surface of formulated knowledge suggests that innovative curriculum may reveal many treasures yet to be learned. Curriculum Breathes One Grade 7 girl explained, "We're not using textbooks and doing dumb experiments. We are really doing something, and we are learning from our mistakes. It's not like reading about stuff and memorizing it. We actually do research and have to really find out stuff." One exciting feature of the biosphere science project was that "science left the classroom;" it was no longer a subject, but a part of the world. Students discussed their Biosphere 3 projects with their parents and school friends outside their class demonstrating a strong sense of pride in their work. Somehow "it took on a life of its own." This was a science project that became very personal for students. They envisioned being participants in their Biosphere 3 model. The teacher and I heard them say things like "we will sleep here" and "in our space it will be like this." Our science 44 curriculum connected classrooms with the world giving students a sense of what they can create. Curriculum is not located in a document, nor is it something that the teacher delivers prepackaged to students. Instead, curriculum is that which co-evolves when teacher and students participate and "bring forth a world together" (Maturana & Varela, 1987; Davis et.al, 1996). "Just plant a seed and let it grow," another Grade 7 girl explains. Enactivism suggests that teacher and students are working on a common venture, and together, they are part of their context rather than viewing them as in a context. That is, students create their science context. It is directed, determined and dependent upon students as participants. Students are part of the science context that emerges. Similarly, Grumet (1995) reminds us to recognize that what is going on in our schools is our culture. "Students are the curriculum. Together we make our world." A Body in Curriculum Educare - bringing forth - is understood, so to speak, 'from the neck up' as if it just happened in the head, as if it were just a matter of effective teaching and affected learning, requiring no real place, no real space to occur. Such a strangulated approach to education forgets that it is not accumulated curricular knowledge that we most deeply offer our children in educating them. It is not their epistemic excellence or their mastery of requisite skills or their grade point average, but literally their ability to live, their ability to be on an Earth that will sustain their lives (Jardine, 1990; pp.111-112). Do educators invite children to participate in their minds and bodies at school? Grumet (1995) asks, "Why do we leave the body out of curriculum?" Correspondingly, Varela et al (1991) advise that a fuller understanding of the 45 phenomenon of learning must embrace a dynamic and complex interplay of individual and environment refusing to separate knowledge from action, refusing to forget the body. Enactivists (Davis et. al, 1996), likewise argue for "an embodied curriculum" asking, what is possible, instead of asking, what can we predetermine in advance of the lived experience of curriculum. A n embodied curriculum is not written on a page, orchestrated in advance, or assembly-ready; it emerges as students and teacher interact with one another and their environment. You move the water and the water moves you. So, how might an embodied curriculum unfold? In this classroom, for example, Ross and I could not anticipate the high drama of science that unfolded before us on that final day of the Biosphere 3 science project. In role as the Science Council (reviewers) we attended a range of excellent presentations from students in role as creators, designers and scientists on several biosphere teams (e.g. Biodome, Eco Ark, Biobubble). Our Biosphere 3 project emerged as students and teachers interacted. One important ingredient in forming an embodied curriculum included engaging drama to help create science spaces. More specifically, the nature of the challenge we organized for students allowed them to "inhabit their roles as experts" (Heathcote and Bolton, 1995) in a scientific endeavour. Ross and I were in role as the Science Council and students chose their roles as various specialists. A second key ingredient of the science curriculum included inviting specialists (e.g. environmental architect; engineer) from the field to communicate their knowledge and to listen to students' current work on their Biosphere 3 projects. Ultimately, a culminating activity appeared to be a third key ingredient that helped create and sustain excitement about the 46 science project for students and ourselves. It was, undoubtedly, a memorable school experience. "We're doing more than science," one girl remarked. "It's like we're learning social skills. You have to really think things through in order to explain it" (Grade 7 student's comments). 4 7 Science Adventure II: Vehicle Visions The North American Automobile Exhibition Congratulations! Your company has been selected by the Canadian Science Council to participate in the prestigious North American Automobile Exhibition. The event this year will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia during the week of March 11-15th. The focus of this exhibition is to showcase innovation and design within the automotive industry. The objective of your company is to develop a unique vision for the future. When you are creating this vision you should be able to answer these types of questions: Who is this vehicle designed for? Have you considered future sources of energy? Has this vehicle addressed environmental concerns? Is it possible to mass produce this vehicle? Designing a vehicle that will meet your objectives is a difficult task. The Canadian Science Council will evaluate each design on its own merits. We expect each company to conduct in-depth research on the energy source selected for your vehicle. Please remember that space will be provided to each company to present and display their concepts. Your company will be asked to submit the following: 1. A one page typed write up summarizing the vision of your company. 2. A short research paper outlining the scientific concepts associated with the energy source of the vehicle. 3. Two different conceptual drawings of the vehicle. These drawings should be drawn to scale. 4. Two 3-dimensional models of your concept. We look forward to working with you during the preparation for this event. Sincerely, Canadian Scientific Council 4 8 Fieldnotes - Tuesday, February 6,1996. We decided on a TRANSPORTATION EXHIBITION which will entail students acting as research scientists for their company and attending this show where they will have a booth and will respond to questions from interested clients. Students will design and build two models for this exhibition. They will also incorporate their company's vision for future transportation. Ross and I were drawing upon our experiences from the Biosphere 3 project when we designed the transportation exhibition project. We knew it was important to remain flexible throughout and responsive and supportive of students' needs and ideas. Once again, we had no idea what would emerge, and we were excited about this next science adventure. The students had been asking for weeks about when they would begin the next science challenge - the cruise. Fieldnotes - Friday February 16,1996. 1) Students were given a draft copy of the project and asked to read it over. 2) Students had the opportunity to ask questions and give comments about the project. - some students commented that it didn't seem as exciting as the biosphere - other students remembered that the Biosphere 3 didn't seem exciting at the beginning either and then they got into it - another student commented that it didn't seem as real, but after an explanation of how it was a real issue out there agreed (e.g., reference to current pollution problems in the lower mainland; alternative modes of transportation) 3) Students were encouraged to choose different partners and told that we would then put them in a bigger group. 4) Ross and I paired two girls and two boys for most of the groups since last time they were all single sex groups. 49 5) There were some moans and groans hut most groups got started and generated some interesting brainstorm ideas/plans/sketches 6) Students are on tight deadlines - will get two-three work periods a week. * Ross commented, "there is always a bit of a lull when they start out a new project, but once they get going everything irons itself out." Fieldnotes - Friday, February 23,1996. Students had 75 minutes to get working on their research and to finish their visions. Ross and I circulated from one group to the next staying longer with some groups than with others discussing their ideas and where they should go next. Discussions varied from simply directing students to resources to actually sitting down and writing/composing their ideas for a vision. I showed two groups how to go about extracting research from encyclopedias and how to look further. Randy's group: I helped them underline the main points and decide how to go about looking for additional info on ethanol. Rina's group simply wanted to know why they had to use fuel for air propulsion since they didn't want to. They explained that the air came in and was compressed and then ignited and so on. We talked about considering ethanol/sugar cane/sorghum as an alternative and they were off. Thomas' group just wanted to show me the exciting info they found on satellite energy - they were awed that their idea could actually work. They were off phoning companies for information and planning. Celia's group just needed some help conceptualizing their idea of a hovercraft. We talked about the goodyear blimp, hovercrafts, aerodynamics, fans and I got them started on what else to look for and what to record. Shahra's group needed some guided direction and I sat with them and drew out their ideas so that they could write the vision. I then assigned Shahra to do a draft of the vision; Renate to look up solar panels and write down critical info; Dina to write down info about batteries and storing energy; Bria was crying again for most of the class and opted out of her group. She said that she didn't know anything so how could she do anything and why did she have to read and why couldn't someone help her and her group didn't know anything and why did she have to do this??? Aurora's group was in the library and on the phone to companies 50 getting information. I didn't get a chance to check in Carl's group. Ross was doing the same thing and in some cases groups talked to both of us. About once a week Ross and I felt it was important for teams to come together as a community of inquiry in order to communicate their ideas and share works in progress. This provided an opportunity for students to summarize their thinking and present to their colleagues/peers along the way. At the same time, these rehearsals provided opportunities for Ross and I to gain another dimension about the flow of the project to date. Listening and asking questions both played critical roles for students in this space. The following excerpt from my fieldnotes provides some insights about the unfolding of this particular space bf inquiry. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, March 5, 1996. Students were given 30 minutes to gather their information and prepare for their presentations to the Science Council. We reminded them that we wanted info about their energy systems and they should explain it so that everyone can understand how their system works. Presentations would be brief (five minutes) and no time for questions at this point. Up until the last minute some groups were arguing I discussing what they were doing. Both Ross and I remarked to one another afterwards that a few groups and individuals had really surprised us. Students used a range of presentation styles and ways of communicating their information in this space. For example, one group used visual representations to guide their presentation; another group showed a brief video clip as part of their presentation to inform us about their topic; still another group did a dramatic role play to draw attention to their fuel source; and one group used visual materials and audience participation to help us understand their fuel source. Ross and I commented upon how we now had 5 1 a better understanding of these various fuel sources. Overall, this space provided the opportunity for students to communicate what they had learned about the specific science content and about how they intended to use this information in response to the challenge. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, March 5, 1996. ** We did not have time to talk about the presentations with each other, but we both took notes. Five of seven groups handed in their research papers. We did however talk briefly about how surprised we were that some groups pulled it together. We told students that we as the Science Council expected a certain standard and that they would only be presenting at UBC if they met that standard. Ross and I agreed to read the research papers and discuss them Thursday at lunch and then give the students feedback on the presentations and research papers. I suggested that we ask for a self-evaluation now to get a sense for what is going on inside the groups and Ross agreed that it was a timely suggestion. Students did these in the afternoon. At this juncture, students' self-evaluations seemed to serve two purposes. First, it was an opportunity for students to reflect upon their contributions and learning up to this point, and to make projections for the remaining part of the project. Second, it gave us, as teachers, an important window into the current state/success of the project. Did we need to make some adjustments? How might we better respond? It provided an opportunity for us to speak with individuals, groups or the class as a whole based on students' comments. Students indicated that they found it difficult at times to share responsibilities for group work. They also pointed to the role of a leader in the group as the person who helped or didn't help the group cohere. Some students even recognized the importance of encouraging one another in their efforts to learn as a group. Aurora writes, "I wish I did a little more encouraging 52 instead of criticizing." Interestingly, many students felt the hard work was over and that the fun part would now begin. A i i suggests, "We just finished all of the hard work (research, vision) and now we can get on to the fun part." They cited their experience of the Biosphere 3 project as justification. Yet Diva exclaims, "/ really want to present to the science class at UBC." Overall, enjoying science at this point in the adventure seemed to revolve around the opportunity to actually make the model students had planned. Fieldnotes - Thursday, March 7, 1996. We walked over to UBC after 15 minutes of silent reading. Students were reminded of their homework for this evening before we left. They took their books and bicycles so that they could be dismissed from UBC. We arrived at 1:45 and Alana (engineering student) met us at the electrical engineering entrance. First she took us to a classroom and explained a few things on the board. She talked about the following: reactions going on in the nucleus of the sun; how a large amount of the sun's energy is reflected back up into the atmosphere; some energy gets through to the earth & can be used; caught by solar cells; solar cells are lined up in series or parallel; you need a negative & a positive to have a current; two types of currents - DC =direct current & AC = alternating current; solar energy can be stored in batteries where it can be used for mechanical energy. Alana showed us a photovoltaic (PV) panel with two amps of power (13"xl3 1/2") hooked up to a machine that showed us how much energy the panel was picking up from the overhead lights. This panel could power a microwave, radio, and TV in your home, she told us. She drew a small diagram to show how the solar panels on the roof gather the energy which charges the battery and is then stored in the battery or used to power appliances in the home. Then she fielded a few questions from the students. Alana also briefly explained the fuel cell with hydrogen and 02 and the emission of water. She said that this is currently being worked on and is a good possibility for the future. Then we went up to the penthouse in the elevator - all 28 of us. Groups of 7-8 students were taken out on the roof to see the PV panels in action. These large panels were much sturdier for 5 3 exposure to the elements and only had two amps of energy each which was surprising to the students. Students remarked that they could see the cells and that it was like what they designed for the biosphere. Unfortunately We didn't have the time to go downstairs to see the propeller, as time was up. I stayed briefly to talk to Alana. She asked me how it went and if I could ask the students for their feedback. When I showed her their research papers she was very surprised at how much they (students) knew and felt that her presentation was "way beneath their level of knowledge." In order to set up this visit I had contacted mechanical and electrical engineering departments explaining current student projects and asking about the possibility of a visit. I first visited the department and spoke with a professor telling him about our needs - specifically applications of solar cell energy - and he showed me a few projects that had been on the go. As I think back to this experience at the university, I still remember Alana, the fourth year engineering student, passing around pamphlets from companies selling PV panels, and, in particular, I remember students' responses. Students remarked spontaneously, "That company has the best prices." "They are really friendly and informative. We've talked to them a few times." It was surprising to us that our students knew so much about the solar panel and fuel cell market. Once again we learned something new because of students' opportunities to interact with members outside their classroom community. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, Marchl2, 1996. The following week, I arrived just before lunch started. Since Ross was speaking with a student I sat on the doorstep in the sun and waited until they 5 4 were finished. Today is the day report cards go home, so Ross wanted to speak with each student individually while the others read silently. Ross started by saying that they had already done science in the morning and began telling me about it. He had shown students a layout of scale drawings from actual vehicles and talked about scale. He sensed that they had a better understanding of scale and could now proceed with their final drawings. They were required to submit their drawings with three different views: front, side and 3-D with certain measurements. Some students went outside and measured actual cars to get some ideas. Other students went outside to draw and looked at some of the cars. Other students sat down beside each other to envision just how big they really wanted their car to be. Ross said it was great how on task they were and how eagerly they pursued their ideas. Some groups had already started building their models. On Friday they would informally present their drawings and ideas so far. On Friday we will also be certain to speak to all the groups separately. When Ross and I talked at lunch he expressed his amazement at how well the students were doing and at how happy he was with this project. He also told me that the kids were very positive about Alana's presentation and felt that it had been a valuable experience. Students had two more science work periods before the March Break and as we were running short of time, Ross asked students to build their models during this week. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, March 26,1996. Students have just returned from their March Break. Today was Ross' first day back. Neither one of us knew what to expect as the students were asked to make the model for homework during the break. Many students went away so we had no idea what to expect. 5 5 When I walked into the room Randy immediately came up to me asking if I wanted to see his model. Wow is it awesome!! Then other students showed me their models as I walked around the room. Everyone was busy writing their pitches or working on posters or on their model. Only two partner groups (four students) do not have their model ready and they are worried about it (Christa & Celia; Jake & Lance) When Diva showed me her model she was so proud of it and easily explained how her system worked from the model. I recall how uninvolved she seemed before this phase. Bea seemed a little sad about their model as it wasn't as good, she thought, as everyone else's. But soon she was busy making a sign for her group. Thomas and Darren had their vehicle all hooked up with a small solar cell panel on top - wow!! Once again students have gone beyond our expectations and amazed us with the work they have put into this science project. Students are very excited about Thursday and some are worried that they won't have enough time to finish. Tomorrow they will have a run through (practice) for the Grade 5/6 class and will be expected to give their company pitch and respond to questions from the students who will be walking around asking questions. Ross and I thought this would be good prep for UBC on Thursday. We will set up the desks like booths so students can have their drawings and research to refer to and practice for Thursday. We will video on both days so that we can see what the difference is. Ross and I talked at lunch about how things are going and about any last minute details. Students will write self-evaluations immediately apres the UBC presentations. They will respond to the same three questions and to a fourth question about one energy system other than their own. Ross has found them to very useful. To date he has not yet officially graded any of this work and will do so all at the end. We will have our conversation next Wednesday about this project. Fieldnotes - Wednesday, March 27, 1996. When I arrived this am there was pandemonium in the classroom. Paint everywhere, TTAZ (team) arguing about their pitch and general panic. Nevertheless Ross announced that we were starting at 11:00 since the Grade 5 6 5/6 class was coming to be our audience. Students were feverishly writing their pitches and then we moved the desks around to simulate the situation at UBC. We went through the companies in alphabetical order with the intention of sticking with this order. Many of the presentations were less than enthusiastic and some very poor. That is to say, some groups went beyond a pitch and began explaining how their systems worked and the special features of their vehicles. Ross videotaped the presentations so that we have a comparison to the UBC presentations. A few groups did not have their models finished and know that they will not present at UBC if incomplete. The Grade 5/6 students briefly walked around looking at the exhibits but did not seem to ask too many questions. In a way I don't think it was so real for Division 2, and they were not too enthusiastic about it. Nevertheless, it was a good practice and we were able to provide feedback about the presentations. We asked students to shorten their pitches focusing on drawing in customers. We told Jodessy that they would not present tomorrow unless their pitch was much improved. Lance and fake also knew that without their model they would not take part tomorrow. Students piled all their posters and their models in one spot and I returned to pick everything up later that day. We made arrangements for students to meet us at UBC for 8:30. 5 7 Fieldnotes - Thursday, March 28, 1996. N O R T H A M E R I C A N V E H I C L E E X H I B I T I O N AAJJ Company Inc. Research Scientists: A i i , Aurora , Janna, Jade, Energy Source: hydrogen power Mirage Company Inc. Research Scientists: Sina, Renate, Randy, Damion, Jose Energy Source: hydrogen power T T A Z Company Inc. Research Scientists: Shahra, Bria , Bea, Dina Energy Source: solar power & batteries Jodessy Company Inc. Research Scientists: Cel ia , Christa, Kyle , E l i Energy Source: solar power & batteries Apollos Company Inc. Research Scientists: Thomas, Darren, D iva , Kate Energy Source: solar power & batteries C W T E Company Inc. Research Scientists: Rina, Ria , Lance, Jake Energy Source: human generated electricity & l iquid oxygen Weasels Company Inc. Research Scientists: Car l , Ana , L iam, Dana Energy Source: electrical power I set up the room last night and transported all the models and posters down this am. So when the students arrived they just needed to set up their tables and posters. Some students brought flyers for the customers advertising their company. Students began arriving at 8:30 and by 8:50 we began. Ross gave a brief background about the project and then I introduced the companies. The audience stood or sat on the floor in the centre of the room and simply turned to face the group that was presenting. A teaching assistant video taped the presentations as well as the engagement during the sessions. The 5 8 presentations were wonderfully clear and effective. Then students responded to questions nonstop until 9:55. It was amazing to walk around and listen to them explaining their systems. They were very excited about their work and gave detailed answers to questions asked. Quite a number of parents came, a few invited professors and my 320 class (pre-service science methods). Customers were asked to fill out comment sheets and to fill out a purchase order form before leaving. Cookies and pop were the extent of our mini celebration at the end with a group photo as the highlight with all their vehicles. Then they were off and I cleaned up. I also took several pictures of students in action and of their vehicles solo at the end. Next week I will drive it all back and we will look at the comment sheets. Students wrote detailed self-evaluations later today which I will be quite interested to see. Ross and I will have our chat about this project next week also. It will be wonderful to look at the video and to ponder doing a video edit. It was quite an exciting day for us all. The next section provides some insights from students' self-evaluations about their impressions of learning through this science adventure. e^Jjtcle Visions portfolio: sample of djnlbten'S creations 6 0 Creative Ways to Exercise (CWTE): The Flycycle Our company was formed in 1996 due to the dramatic public demand for an ecological, non-polluting vehicle of flight. "CWTE" (Creative Ways to Exercise) is well known throughout the United States of America, Canada, Europe and all the other countries on planet Earth. After careful consideration CWTE has developed the plans for a technological innovation that is both a transportation vehicle and a very sophisticated exercise machine. Our vehicle is called the Flycycle. This is what we propose: The Flycyle is a cross between a jet, a helicopter and a double bicycle. It is egg-shaped and slightly pointed at the front to minimize wind resistance. There is a large rotor on top and a jet propulsion pack on the back. There are two seats side by side and two sets of pedals. There is a dashboard on the left which holds a small steering wheel, a radio and tape deck, a digital clock and a series of buttons used to control speed, heating, air conditioning, etc. etc. There is space behind the two seats which can hold more people (up to three adult passengers) or various cargo. When flying at night time, you simply switch on to rotating headlights located on the belly of the vehicle and a smaller flashing light situated near the rotor. There are also two pairs of small landing wheels on the bottom of the vehicle. The Flycycle is powered by human-made electricity. When the two people in front pedal, they generate energy in the form of electricity. The electricity goes directly into the propeller and jet pack and dashboard. The extra energy is stored in a giant battery. When the drivers stop pedaling, the person on the left pushes a button and the Flycycle automatically becomes powered by the electricity stored in the battery. The propeller allows the Flycycle to rise upwards and the jet pack propels the vehicle forwards. The jet pack is fueled with liquid oxygen. The entire process is completely environmentally friendly. The Flycycle can be used for various family excursions, basic transportation, exercise and fun! 6 2 Figure 2.2 The Flycycle : Model Figure 2.3 Apollos : Model 6 3 Children's Learning Report II Vehicle Visions Self-Evaluations (March 28,1996) 1. Explain your contributions to the vehicle visions project. 2. Describe what you learned while working through this project. 3. Give yourself a letter grade and justify why you have earned this mark. 4. Explain another fuel system other than the one your group selected. Self-evaluations were written in the afternoon on the same day of their final presentations at UBC. A profile of responses from two groups provided some insights from students regarding their learning. AATJ Co. Inc. Two Grade 7 boys, Ai i and Jake, one Grade 7 girl, Janna, and one Grade 6 girl, Aurora, formed this team. Ai i responds, "at first my group and I knew nothing about hydrogen cells (to tell you the truth I hadn't even heard of it). I also learnt how to get people to buy your car and what systems people want in their car. I also learnt about the shape and design of other vehicles and what shapes are more aerodynamic and what are not. I think that now I will draw and design cars in my spare time. This was a good project." Jake adds, "I learnt a lot about our fuel and the very technical things that most people don't pay attention to and I didn't just learn about the fuel and how the engine works but I also learnt about presenting and how to explain the process of our engine so others would understand it. I think I have learnt quite a bit in this project." Janna writes, "through this project I learned a lot. Before this project I didn't even know what hydrogen cell was. But after this assignment, I know 64 a lot about hydrogen cells and how it works. I learned that hydrogen cell powered cars are more friendly to the environment than any other k ind of engine. H o w it works is that there is a negative and a positive side. The negative and positive side simply come together to produce energy. Then all the energy is transported to a battery that spins and produces electricity for the car to move. Also the hydrogen cell powered cars produce water instead of exhaust. H o w the engine works is called a "fuel cell romance". Just like a male and a female producing a baby." A n d , finally, "Aurora states, I never knew about the hydrogen cells. From this project I learned about hydrogen cells and the special features that a car needs and additional stuff like plug in for lab tops, extra head space ... because people are growing taller and a T V map to help you smooth steering and places for laptops. I also learned about negative and positive. I really enjoyed this project because I learned about cars and alternative fuel systems." Apollos Co. Inc. Two grade 7 boys, Thomas and Darren, one Grade 7 girl , Kate, and one Grade 6 girl , Diva, formed this team. Thomas indicates, "the first of many things I learned while working through this project was how microwave and solar energy works. H o w hard it is to work wi th a friend and difficult to schedule your time and I also learned how cheap most solar panels are and how it's still hard to find up to date information on solar energy. Finally I learned that it's easier to present to college students than your own classmates." Darren emphasizes, "while working through this project I learned many important things like how important it is to have cleaner and safer sources of fuel or the ozone layer w i l l be destroyed because of our stupidity. Right now at least one of the fuel sources thought of by my classmates could 65 probably work if not more. I also learned a lot about fuel sources and it would be cool if it was really used not too long from now." Diva confidently writes, "what I learned while working on this project was how my car works. The solar panel collects the sun's energy and gives the energy to the direct current (DC) battery. Then the energy from the D C battery gives energy to the four small motors and that's how the car will run. A l l the accessories like the color tv and sound system also get the energy from the D C battery." Kate notes, "I learned that solar panels can get energy from the sun on a hot day and then give the energy to the battery and the motors get the energy from the battery and wheels run very fast. O n a very good day the solar panel can store some energy." 66 Conversation Piece II: Teacher and Researcher Reflections after "Vehicle Visions" science project (April 3rd, 1996) Six days after students' science exhibition at the local university, Ross and I sat on the familiar vinyl couch and brownish-red chair in portable classroom No. 1. Mini tape recorder and microphone rested on the wooden stool in-between us. Students had gone home, and other than a few staff P.A. announcements, we remained undisturbed for about one hour of conversation. Once again, as researcher, I had prepared a few headings as points of reference to guide this conversation. These included the following: talk about physics labs; vehicle visions challenge/project; small group work; self-evaluations; university electrical engineering trip; university physics presentation; assessment; parents/teachers comments; where now? This conversation provided a unique opportunity for Ross and I to reflect upon pedagogy and student learning within the Vehicle Visions science project. We exchanged ideas about our experiences (such as comments from parents; students comments expressed individually) opening up further insights about the nature of student learning. Pedagogical Perspectives: Ross began in this way, "They (students) knew that this was a real performance. It was real life again to them. This was a whole different audience and these people (prospective teachers, professors and parents) are going to take what I say seriously and have an understanding for what we're talking about." In response I add, "Yeah, what overwhelmed me just walking, I mean listening and looking around was how engaged everyone of 6 7 them was ... each person had someone talking to them, at least, and they had two or three people waiting ... so it was this constant overdrive of keep going and ... " Ross continues, "Some of them, some students were begging people to come to their tables - they wanted to tell them all about it. ... they wanted to let their knowledge out ... they wanted people there engaged listening to them." Thereupon the conversation jumped to the amount of time spent on the science project. A n d Ross responds, "Yeah, even though they felt rushed -I'm not sure the product would be different if they were given more time. They worked really hard and the product we got was excellent and I don't think it would have been much better with more time." From Ross' perspective, creating a learning environment in which students could participate in a purposeful scientific adventure was critical. In particular, creating spaces of opportunity where students took ownership for their learning emerged as meaningful. He explains, "Besides the initial startup, once you get the kids going these projects take on a life of their own. It took that initial idea between you and I to get a structure and a timeline and this is what we're expecting. We set up the structure and... you and I were not collecting information and saying here it is kids." I add, "you're right. The work for us is getting it started and responding along the way." Then I reflect, "And maybe a lot of it is just letting them go and expecting that they will be able to do it. And the practice...the time..." A n d , Ross adds, "this does not just apply to science. At this age when you give them responsibility and trust them, they say this is for me and they want to know about it and find the info. We are not feeding them info." I affirm, "Yeah, there is a real desire to know." Once again, themes of relevance, enthusiasm, and time emerge as 68 important dimensions of learning in our second conversation. Relevance. Enthusiasm. Time. Perspectives on Student Learning : "What about the trip up to UBC electrical engineering department? What did you think... ," I ask Ross. "7 was keen to see some hands-on high tech stuff and it was a bit disappointing to go and see old solar panels on the roof rusting from disuse & a person presenting who didn't have the knowledge that the kids had. However, that was my impression. The kids' impression was that it was valuable. Maybe it was going outside into the community and talking to someone supposedly knowledgeable in the field with whom they felt on the same level to some extent. To them it was encouraging that they had acquired all this knowledge and they were on a same level as someone at a university. That's the impression I got." In response I reply, "it must have been an incredible feeling to sit and listen to someone in 4th year engineering explain some things to them that they already knew." Another opportunity for students to communicate what they learned involved an interactive science performance at the local university for prospective elementary teachers, professors, and parents. A l l students had the opportunity to interact individually with members of the audience for an entire hour. This is, perhaps, a rare opportunity for most students in their school careers. As Ross points out, 69 "But in this project, because of the format of these presentations ... the fact that they were going to be asked questions ... I can't really think of one student that didn't have an excellent or good understanding of the system they were using. I mean everyone could explain it really well in their groups." This interactive science performance was also a rare opportunity for the Ross and I to observe students interacting with other adults. It was at this time that we became aware that by this point students "ran the show." Ross remarked what an incredible feeling of success it was to see students so excited and similarly, to see participants so engaged and enthusiastic about students' learning. He remembered a student saying,"It's really neat working with this group because I would never even have thought of some of the ideas that other people brought." A n d Ross adds, "and I think that's really healthy group work. " Inquiring further, I ask, "What about the small group work? Let's talk about that. " "I always find with seating plans and everything the first couple of days - once you get through that and they accept members of the group - they have to go through that," Ross explained. Put another way, it seems that students need time to settle into their groups and respond to the challenge at hand. When I suggest that, in fact, personality may play a role, Ross responds in the following way: "It wasn't the girls and the guys - it was a group effort - it was also easier to have two groups of two for the model - and this is where it went girls boys for most of them." That is, for the model-making component each group of four divided into two pairs to make two models, and these pairs were often two girls and two boys. The science spaces organized by Ross and I in the classroom seemed to open up opportunities for students to develop science content expertise, as well as 70 an expertise at communicating this expertise in a group. As Ross indicated about one student,"He's never had that experience before - of being a leader -he has no tolerance for other's ideas and he had to learn - learn to listen and respond and meet timelines..." So,"Do you think that in all groups there were leaders?," I inquire. A n d Ross declares, "No, not necessarily. Like in Thomas' group where they had a number of strong people to help each other. Not everyone has that ability yet to listen to everybody and gather ideas. Some people worry about what people will think, so they don't speak. Each one of those students (in that group) are well rounded - good interpersonal skills - I think that was the more important part of this project - being able to communicate with each other and decide goals as a group. " This is not the first time Ross explicitly expresses his conviction that learning to communicate and work in a group is what he believes to be "one of the most important aspects of these science projects." Learning in a group and communicating one's learning is what seems apparent to him. Indeed, it was the amount of knowledge students acquired and their ability to communicate and cohere as a group that emerged as particularly revealing across projects. Yet, it may be important to ask, what experiences contributed to students' learning that Ross and I know little about? For example, neither Ross, nor I, were part of group experiences, and, therefore, know little about how each individual integrated the knowledge generated by the group. Certainly, members of each group also worked alone in order to contribute to the group effort. Although students wrote about their individual efforts in their self-evaluations, we were not privy to individual contributions as they emerged 7 1 throughout the project. Often we learned about these contributions by listening to students' interactions at the culminating event or when parents told us. 72 How does participation contribute to student expertise? What counts as expertise in this community of Grade 6/7 students? As an educational researcher, I am particularly interested in inquiring into students' learning experience for the purposes of enriching the learning and teaching of science in schools. Theoretical perspectives on expertise provide one way to define and situate expertise. However, my conception/ interpretation of expertise is unique and situated in a Grade 6/7 science classroom. If expertise is defined and recognized by a community, then Grade 6/7 students may recognize expertise within their classroom community. Three distinct perspectives on expertise inform this initial discussion: expertise as special knowledge, expertise as process, and a mantle of the expert approach. Thereafter, I advance my perspective on the relationship between partcipation and student expertise by defining expertise within a school culture. But first, a brief look at the transformation of the word expertise over time. By tracing the origins and transformation of the word expertise, an interesting story emerges. According to records (Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, 1988), the story of the word expertise began in 1348 with the word experiment meaning an investigation, test or trial. The word experiment has its roots in the Latin verb experiri (ex - out of + a lost verb periri - to go through), and is also connected to the word experience. In 1378 experience was defined as knowledge gained by repeated trials. Nevertheless, the Latin root of experience is also experiri, meaning to risk an attempt or to gain experience one must risk. Interestingly, periri became a lost verb around this time. Shortly thereafter, in 1384, the adjective expert emerged to describe someone 73 who was experienced in, or very skillful. Of course, expert also has its roots in the Latin word experiri. A n d before 1420 a person wise through experience was called an expert. Some 483 years later, in 1868, the noun "expertise" emerged from expert, describing someone with expert skill or knowledge or expertness. Today, almost 650 years since the beginning of the word expertise was recorded, I propose a fresh perspective on expertise connected to its historical roots. I propose reactivating the verb periri—to go through. A l l four words, experiment, experience, expert, expertise, imply the need to take action— experiri is to risk an attempt. At the same time, these risks lead a person to become wise through experience. Without a doubt, experience is central to expertise. From an educational perspective, what kinds of experiences can we provide for students in schools so that they risk attempts to experience— periri? More specifically, what kinds of experiences invite students to develop expertise? "exper(t)ience" Expertise as "Special Knowledge" Studies on expertise as special knowledge became an intriguing research area in the late 1960s due to developments in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology. Investigations of chess playing (Chi, Glaser & Farr, 1988), for example, provide observations about what distinguishes strong from weak chess players. In these studies "domain knowledge" was considered important. A n emphasis on understanding the nature of human expertise at this time was rooted in the desire to approximate the performance of human experts on machines. Put another way, was it possible for computers to represent the thinking of experts? Today artificial intelligence continues to work towards creating a robot that simulates human thinking—a search for human expertise. Traditional ways of defining expertise as possessing special domain knowledge (Anzai, 1991; Ericsson & Smith, 1991; Chi , Glaser & Farr, 1988; Patel and Groen, 1991; Sloboda, 1991), have prompted attempts to understand expertise as process (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993). Still, no one 'type' or 'theory' of expertise appears to hold consensus. Instead, expertise is generally connected to particular fields of knowledge such as music, literature, physics, and medicine. For example, physics expertise is described as a process of learning to draw and use diagrams to explain abstract ideas ( Anzai, 1991). O n the other hand, medical expertise is defined as an academic knowledge of basic sciences and as situational knowledge (Patel & Groen, 1991). Interestingly, this differentiation of expertise recognizes that the context is critical. Moreover, the current shift in medical school to learning through case studies attempts to address this distinction. Experience is central to expertise. Literatures inform us that many types of expertise have not yet been adequately documented and suggest that further approaches to studying expertise are required (Ericsson & Smith, 1991). Expertise as "Process" Bereiter and Scardamalia (1993), begin their discussions on expertise by attempting to understand it as a process that leads to expert ability. In particular, they suggest the problem is "how do we ensure that novices develop into experts rather than into experienced nonexperts?" (p.18). They 7 5 argue for developing a school culture that promotes expertise in learning. That is, they envision knowledge-building communities in schools that resemble those that currently exist in the sciences. They describe existing schools as nonexpert communities and recommend that schools should aim at developing environments that foster expertise. Interestingly, Bereiter and Scardamalia fail to recognize the role of teachers as experts within what they describe as "nonexpert" communities. Moreover, they speak about schools broadly without specifying if they direct their comments specifically to high schools or elementary schools. Ultimately, they conclude by theorizing, that what we require is a school culture that encourages and sustains expertlike endeavours. This shift in focus to a process of expertise may provide additional information about expertise and about becoming expert, but it lacks attention to a specific context and to the dynamics of learning in an elementary school community. Mantle of the Expert In contrast, Heathcote and Bolton (1995), advocate a "mantle of the expert" approach to curriculum in schools beginning with the distinction that children can imagine they are experts and hence transform their thinking and actions. They insist that students who "don the mantle of the expert and its responsibilities are in an active state of attention to a range of projects and plans of action. They begin to generate their own knowing and, most significant, this knowing is always embedded in a fertile context" (p.vii). Heathcote and Bolton argue that within this approach students are "active in the learning process, not just cognitively, but socially and kinesthetically" (p.viii). Ultimately, when this mantle of the expert approach is used, responsibility for learning is shared among the groups and with the teacher, 76 and it is described as an approach to the whole curriculum. Therefore, Heathcote and Bolton (1995), emphasize creating a context where children can imagine and thus transform how they learn under the guise of expert. Participation and Student Expertise Similar to Heathcote and Bolton (1995), I focus on the context or the experience and the learners who participate within it. Students are invited to explore, communicate and expand their expertise at learning science content and at learning how to participate in a community of inquiry. I propose taking a closer look at student learning in actual classrooms at school. As educational researcher Lortie (1975) cautions us, "schooling is long on prescription, short on description" (preface). M y ethnographic study attempts to document and illustrate the unfolding of a community of inquiry that evolves over one school year. Science adventures across the school year provide rich textured experiences where students participate in a process of learning that creates opportunities for students to develop expertise. It is an expertise that expresses itself in interactions. How, then, do I describe or define student expertise? I frame expertise within an elementary school culture as students enact, express, reveal what they know. Expertise is dynamic and interactive and emerges through co-participation. Students acquired what I characterize as an expertise at learning science content and expertise at learning how to participate in a community of inquiry. Perhaps, a return to a third science adventure will provide further insights into the development and spread of expertise in this community. 77 Science Adventure III: Amusement Park Science Challenge: Create A n Amusement Park The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) will be closing permanently at the end of the season. The exhibition has decided to relocate on a parcel of land in the Fraser Valley. The board of executives is seeking innovative ideas from the public to help plan their new facility. Your class has been selected to participate in this unique opportunity. We would like teams of students to create a new innovative ride or redesign an existing structure. Each submission should include research, detailed drawings and a simple mechanical model of your design. Please remember that space is limited and your group will have one half of a table top to present your model. Timeline: 1. Research and Sketches (May 14) - one page of research on the mechanics of your model; a clear sketch on 8.5 x l l paper 2. Final Drawings (May 17) - a detailed drawing of your design on 11x17 paper; diagram should include a title, labels, and scale; this drawing will be used in your final presentation 3. Models (May 28)- a simple model that demonstrates how the mechanical system works; the model should be displayed on cardboard no larger than half a table top 4. Presentation (May 29) - each group will be required to pitch their design to an audience (2-3 minutes); each member of the group should be prepared to respond to questions from the audience related to the mechanics of their selected systems. This time would be different. This time students would create a science challenge with Ross and I, and decide upon requirements and timelines together. Over the school year we endeavoured to develop a culture of inquiry in the classroom giving students opportunities to participate in two extensive science projects to date. Now Ross and I felt they were ready to participate with us in the decision making process from the beginning. 7 8 Students had rich experiences to draw upon. They were ready for full participation and added responsibility. So, Ross and I decided on two ideas as examples for the last science project of the school year we thought would be exciting and challenging/inspiring for students. We discussed opportunities for students to design a variety of boats for a class regatta or to design a ride as part of a class fairground. From the outset we felt it was crucial to have an end goal/culminating activity in mind as part of our science context. Students needed to have an audience with whom to share their findings/discoveries. Science at school needed a purpose. Ross and I had chart paper and markers ready to chart students' ideas before the brainstorming session began. First we invited class discussion on the topic of designing boats as a science project and then on the idea of designing rides as a science project. Ideas for the possibilities of designing boats for a science project were put forth with enthusiasm by students. First, Aurora exclaimed, "let's make boats that float and travel." Ana quickly added, "cruise ships would be neat to design because they hold so much." After a pause, Randy remarked," each group could choose a type of boat to design." A n d Ai i added, "we could learn about scientific concepts behind boats." As the flurry of ideas continued I listed the following on the board: floating/sinking; movement/travel; on the water/under the water. The possibilities of a science curriculum were emerging. In response to the idea of designing rides for a fairground students responded with increasing enthusiasm. "It could be a computer theme park," Carl exclaimed. What if " each group did something different like using mechanical and electrical power?" A n d , "each group could design a ride," 79 Bria exclaimed. "This would be fun and not so serious like the cars and biosphere projects," Ria reflected. "Could we build a roller coaster!" D i v a asked with optimism. Thinking quickly, Christa added, "maybe we could get ideas from the PNE." The opportunity to think about possibilities seemed to be particularly inspiring to students. After listening and recording students' ideas on these two topics we asked for additional suggestions and recorded these ideas. However, at this juncture few students offered their opinions. Students' ideas included Celia's suggestion that "we design planes and and think about things that travel in air." In response, Darren exclaimed, "yeah, we could make gliders ." Carl suggested that "we do whatever we feel like doing." A n d one final suggestion from Christa was to design a village in a rainforest. (Perhaps it was because we had already brainstormed ideas about boats and rides in detail for almost an hour that students seemed to lack energy to develop latter themes.) Nevertheless, as teachers we were aware of time constraints and made the decision to proceed. We asked students to put their heads down and vote. Three or four students voted for boats and the overwhelming majority voted for the fairground idea. Students made the decision to participate in creating a fairground adventure. Now we needed input from students about timelines and suggestions for how to approach this project. A chart on the board indicated the expectations/requirements of the previous two science projects for reference purposes. We asked students to return to their seats and write down their ideas for the actual written challenge, group composition, project requirements and suggested timelines, and ideas for a culminating event. These were handed in before lunch on the same day after a 75 minute 80 session in total. Ross and I read through students' proposals at lunch time using them to orchestrate the next group discussion. Bea suggests, "I think the challenge should be to design a ride especially designed for a hamster." Thomas proposes, "The challenge should be to be able to build something that moves whether it's something that has already been created or something from our imagination." Rina asserts, "I don't think we should have the kind of challenge when you compete to see which group wins, because we're as a class making an Amusement Park." Ross and I displayed students' ideas on a large chart, posting it as a visual reference for all of us. Working with their proposed ideas we created an outline for project requirements noting timelines on an enlarged calendar displayed on the board. This calendar was used throughout the science project to remind students of their timelines and/or to make adjustments as needed along the way. Other major school events/holidays were also indicated for reference points. Then we asked students to select a partner to work with and to sit down and begin discussion on their ideas while we composed the groups of partners into working teams of 4-5 students. Ross and I composed groups and indicated we would have the challenge written up for the next day. Students had approximately 15 minutes in their groups to write down some initial ideas around the selected topic of Amusement Park on May 3rd. 8 1 Fieldnotes - Friday, May 3,1996. We called out the groups by number, gave them a piece of paper for sketches, and I put the individual tape- recorders on the desks matching the number on the recorders to the groups. It was a little hectic at first, but did not seem to be a problem thereafter. They only had 15 minutes in their groups, but seemed to get going for the most part. I collected their folders and labeled them by number to be sure that the tapes match up. Ross asked students to keep all of their work in these folders and hand in work in them. Then I packed away all the recorders and tapes and Ross helped with the video recorder before we went for lunch. Over lunch we talked about writing up the challenge formally and Ross made some notes while we thought aloud. We both feel that it will be a very exciting project and decided that we need to start thinking about materials and resources and how to be supportive. Then lunch was over and we returned to class feeling we had barely had a break. During the following science period on May 7th, each group had the opportunity to present their thinking to the class. Before beginning, Ross and I pointed out it was unanimous from individual written proposals that the class wanted a) a non-competitive activity, b) opportunity to learn from each other, c) opportunity to exchange ideas. Thereupon groups presented their initial group ideas. Students' ideas were quite complex in that every group wanted to design a rollercoaster and suggested that computer technology would look after the functioning. We were concerned that this would be too difficult and more importantly, it was not the direction we had intended for this science project. So, on the next science day, Thursday May 9th, we endeavoured to clarify our expectations. Fieldnotes - Thursday, May 9,1996 We started off by calling students to the front to sit on the carpet with us. I had taken a pile of materials from the materials box (pulleys, spools, 82 syringes, surgical tubing) to show them for ideas. Ross started off by talking about how we perceived their ideas so far. We were concerned about how four groups were going to be able to make their rides work. We feel that perhaps looking at some ideas about how to use simple machines for movement from some books would be useful at this time. Keep it simple!! Then we sent students back to work in their groups. Ross and I placed the audio tapes on the desks and made ourselves available by circulating to the groups. The books were in demand and students seemed to be afresh with ideas. Many students asked for help in terms of us listening to their ideas and asking us how they might do one thing or another with certain materials. At about 11:40 they were running out of steam and so we called them together at the front to share their ideas with the group. Someone in each group talked briefly about their ride design and some showed sketches. Everyone was invited to provide feedback and suggestions. We now have quite a variety of rides that will be designed for our amusement park. Ross and I decided that we too would make a ride to present to the students, and they could decide to include it or not in their park. Most students liked this idea. Fieldnotes - Tuesday, May 14,1996 At recess I prepped the tape recorders and Ross and I talked about how we thought things were moving along and how we should start them off. I mentioned the idea of giving them two questions to answer: 1) How does your ride move? e.g, the crank turns the gear which ... 2) What are the variables? e.g., it depends upon ... Ross wrote the stuff on the board as I talked through the ideas. We told the students that they had 35 minutes to finalize their sketches and research and should be prepared to present both to the class thereafter. Ross and I walked around helping groups as necessary. I also set up the video camera to record the presentations. Ross left the room briefly to call a few parents re: a parent meeting apres school. He also mentioned that report cards are due early at their school due to the move and that he had parent interviews all next week. 8 3 At 11:35 we called the students to the front and started with group #6. They were asked to show their sketches to the class and to talk through how their ride works. Thereupon students were invited to ask questions and make suggestions/comments. Each group took about five minutes and we finished just past lunch hour. Next day sketches and research are due and students were told, to bring in materials to start working on the model. Ross had another meeting at lunch so I stayed to eat lunch with the kids before heading out. I showed a few students a rough sketch of our ride and they said "you'll have to do better than that" and "you don't need any help cuz you're the teachers." Fieldnotes - Thursday, May 16,1996 Today I arrived just as students were coming out for recess. Ross told me right away that most groups had not yet handed in their drawings and research complete but that they would be in today. In addition lots of kids are sick or away today due to the long weekend. Ross still isn't feeling 100% and things are getting even busier. We took our bananas outside and sat and talked on the doorstep in the sunshine. This was the weather we had been waiting for all of May. Ross talked about how the kids were so difficult to get going right now with everything, (he explains) It seems to be part of this "we're packing up and moving syndrome" and they perceive it to be all over in a way. It's crazy with the library shutting down yesterday and every week they are coming and taking stuff out of the classroom. Next week they are taking my desk and shelves and cupboards as well as the couches and moving them into the new school. I think they are also taking the last portable and we don't even know where that kindergarten class will go in the mean time. Between packing, parent interviews, report cards it's tough to keep the kids going and I think they feel it too. And there really is nowhere to go to relax -the staff room is really not an option as it is now. Next year I look forward to team teaching ... so at least there is another adult to talk to and engage/plan with. This really is quite an isolated situation in these portables. Recess was over and Ross and I hurried inside to grab moving boxes for the bases which the kids needed. Then we heard there were still cookies left over so we grabbed a few before heading back out to the portable. 84 Fieldnotes - Wednesday, May 22, 1996 Since Ross was called to the office for a phone call I asked the students to get their stuff out and start. I placed the recorders on their desks and assigned one person to keep watch once in a while and let me know when it went off. What a difference in the way they were working today. All groups had their bases ready and were working on the various parts. Even Lance and fake were very involved in "making". Diva was particularly excited when she discovered that the film reels actually worked for her ferris wheel. She went outside and had someone pour water to test it out. There was a quiet hum of work in the classroom with students sawing, measuring, sanding, painting, drawing, gluing and trying things out. The box of supplies is wonderful as students can simply look inside and use what they need. Some groups are purchasing additional materials which they feel they need, but everyone is on track. As Ross and I walked around observing and helping where necessary we noted that they were all well on their way and that we thought they would make it afterall. Last week we were both a little worried about this actually coming together, but now we are feeling better about it again. It's always this way at some point we agreed. We decided on the Thursday as the final date for our Amusement Park and on the Wednesday they would present to the Science Council. Lots of work to do until then with invitations and decorations and announcements. In the last 20 minutes of class time we stopped the groups and ask them to briefly explain and show where they were at to the class. Then if they needed any help or ideas from the class people could make suggestions. This worked very well as students gladly offered their ideas and were genuinely helpful with regards to ideas for materials. A few groups were really happy to have some suggestions for where to go next with their ride ideas. We may do this again on Friday and on Tuesday before the final presentations as it was very insightful. Fieldnotes - Thursday, May 23, 1996 The work climate in the class today was noticeably different from yesterday as kids were wandering off talking about other things. Some groups 85 didn't bring in the materials they needed and so claimed they had nothing to do. It was really in stark contrast to yesterday when they were just humming with their rides. When it came time for clean up it took them ten minutes into lunch because they were fooling around and not working together. Despite this change in mood rides are coming along and with the pending day of presentation groups are starting to take things home to finish up. Today Ross and I had all of 25 minutes for lunch but at last we were able to sit down and talk casually. The mood in the school in general is one of chaos and isolation and the pressure is rising with report cards due early, furniture leaving the classroom daily, moving the portables, packing and these rainy days. Still (he commented) "the science projects have been amazing and really kept things exciting." Fieldnotes - Tuesday May 28,1996 It was a very busy work day with some groups doing paper mache; others sawing wood and gluing; others working on their concession stands; some working on final drawings; some working on their posters. Paint, glue guns, saws, sandpaper, spray paint, yogourt containers, screws, nails, hammers, handdrill, paper mache, elastics, plasticene, construction paper, cardboard, rulers, measuring tapes, egg cartons, straws, doweling - materials everywhere. They worked very hard at completing their rides and there were many calls for help. "This isn't working" or "what do you think about this" or "how do you think we could do this" or "what do you think about this idea" or "Randy isn't doing anything." We gave them a work period from 10:45 - 12:00 and again from 12:45-2:00 pm. Fieldnotes - Wednesday, May 29,1996 Before I left Ross and I talked about what time we would start decorating the room. We also confirmed which classes were coming when and how we would proceed. I'll pick up the streamers and balloons since Ross is writing report cards until 7:00-8:00 tonight and again tomorrow. Due to unstable weather conditions we've decided to go inside for the fair. We also talked about the nature of the self-evaluation questions and agreed that they would be similar to the last two. Ross commented that he thought it 86 important to ask the students about what they learned overall and not just what they learned about science. ** Remember costumes for tomorrow. Fieldnotes - Thursday, May 30,1996 When I arrived at 10:00ish this am students were busy working on their math. Grade 7's worked at their desks and Grade 6's sat on the carpet with Ross going over some word problems together. I headed for the back of the room and as I did Randy confronted me. He exclaimed, "It works you know. It really works. Look what I figured out last night. Pretty good huh? Won't you and Ross reconsider our ride because it really works now?" After assuring him that we would he went back to his desk, but commented that he wanted to start setting up and try it. At about 10:07 the noise level in the classroom started increasing and it didn't seem possible that they were still working. You could sense the temperature rising in a sense. Then Ross asked them to clear their desks and set up the desks as we had yesterday being careful not to damage any of the rides.. We all worked together setting up the room which included hanging streamers and blowing up balloons. AH ask me to help him with the streamers so we spent the next while doing that. As usual there was a shortage of tape and not enough balloons to go around. But we sure set up fast. I asked Rina if she would mind introducing the fair for each group and she agreed. Ross ran out to invite another class as one class had canceled. The video recorder was set up with a battery pack and Ross and I decided that we would pick it up and video whenever the opportunity presented itself. Although I had the audio recorders ready to go I decided that it would be too inconvenient and too loud in any case so I didn't. While students are running around organizing the classroom space and their respective rides, the teacher and I are assisting them and checking the schedule of the audiences for the day. We expect five classes of 25-30 students and their teachers to visit and participate in our Amusement Park. Moreover, parents and members of a local university (pre-service students; professors) have also been invited to drop in at some point during the performances. Students are busy putting on make-up and costumes in efforts 8 7 to create a fairgrounds atmosphere. The rides are set out on tables located around the periphery of the room with a large sign advertising the name of the ride. "Welcome , welcome everyone to our Division 2 Amusement Park. The fun is about to begin ... come on down to this new ride. It's new. It's improved." Amusement Park Rides 1) The Spinning Tornado 2) Wild Rapids 3) The Stormchaser 4) The Slingshot 5) The Water Wheel 6) The Plunge Fieldnotes - Thursday, May 30,1996. At 11:05 the Grade 1 class came in and sat on the floor for the introductions to the rides and then the fair began. Presentations were very creative and the little ones were eager to find out about the rides. Our kids were very patient and explained their rides really well. Their teacher was amazed at the work the students had done and told Ross how wonderful this was and thank you for the invitation. And the steamboat worked and became a big attraction. Some water spilled and kids went in and out getting paper towels and mopping but they had a really good handle on things. We sent a runner out for the second class and on the way the kindergarten teacher said they were back early and could they still come so I said sure. For the second show we had two classes and it was even busier (Grade 3/4 and kindergarten). Once again their teacher raved about all the work the kids and Ross and I had done. What a wonderful idea to invite our classes they said because it is wonderful 88 for our kids to see what they've accomplished. At 11:45 we had to clear them out for the next two classes - a Grade 7 & Grade 2 class. In addition the area superintendent and principal were able to attend the final session though they did not stay long. The kids went through their introductions again and this time the room was even more packed. Once again they had the interest of the audience and demonstrated how their rides worked and explained why they worked. A few parents and UBC people made it for the last session and commented how impressive these projects were - "but it's not science," one of the parents said. At the end of the day one teacher came over to thank the teacher and 1 for the wonderful presentation and fair. She was very impressed with the work done by students and commented that her students could really appreciate how tough it was to go from reading about gears and pulleys to actually making something work. Since her class was just working on this it was very informative for them and generated quite a lot of discussion. It also gave her some ideas about what to try next year. It was so tough to organize materials and figure out what to do she said. She commented on how the "real learning takes place when the kids actually have to do something and get involved and realize that its not so easy and really want to figure it out." Amazing and thanks, she said. In the parking lot I met up with another teacher who commented that she was so glad they were invited to come because she was really impressed with the students' work and so were her kids. Some of the siblings in her class were talking all morning about the rides their brothers/sisters had made and so it was really exciting to see them. "What a powerful way to learn "and so many creative ideas. She said it was "really inspirational" to see such work. 8 9 &mu£ement <Parit portfolio: sample of creations! Water Wheel Our ferris wheel is going to be a double-sided ferris wheel. The people are going to sit on one side of the ferris wheel and the other side is going to rotate the side where the people are sitting. We will pour a jug of water into the small cups. The cups will move downwards on one side of the wheel and this will make the other side move. Our ferris wheel is going to be 40 cm in diameter. How fast the wheel turns depends on how much water we pour into the cup. When you go onto the ferris wheel, you will walk through a transparent walkway, with a round appearance, where it has a jungle theme. We will put some leaves and sounds to make it look like a jungle. When you are sitting in our ferris wheel, you will feel slightly hot from the transparent walkway. Then, suddenly, the bottom of your cart touches some water which makes the water splash up on your face. It continues to go around in a circle until the jug of water is empty. Then the ride is over. #1 - It will depend upon how many people are on the ferris wheel. #2 - The more water you pour, the faster the ferris wheel will spin. #3 - The bigger the ferris wheel is, the more people it will hold. 91 Figure 3.3 The Plunge: Model 9 3 Children's Learning Report III Amusement Park Self-Evaluations (May 30,1996) 1. Explain your contributions to the amusement park project. 2. Describe what you learned while working through this project. 3. Tell us about your experience of working in your group. 4. Give yourself a letter grade and justify why you have earned this mark. O n this final self-evaluation, we specifically asked students about their learning experiences inside their groups. Below is a profile of responses from two groups. #1 - Spinning Tornado Two Grade 7 girls, Rina and Bria, one Grade 7 boy, Jade, and one Grade 6 boy, Kyle, formed this team. Jade writes, "I learned some very simple ways to power things; conflict within group problem throughout; not enough credit from group for work." Rina insists, "this was the best project of the three - more time and more informal; group did not work very well - voting was only way to go -one of first groups to finish model." Bria writes, "no matter how much you hate the people you work with, you can still pull together and get the project done; my first idea about ride going up & down as well as around was too hard - decided it was better just to make it go around." Kyle notes, "I did not enjoy it because of conflict within group; should have been able to pick more than one person." #6 - Wi ld Rapids Two Grade 7 girls, Ria and Dana, one Grade 7 boy, Randy, and one Grade 6 boy, Damion, formed this group. Ria explains, "I liked this project more than the others because it was fun, and the topic was more interesting and creative - only thing I didn't like was two of the uncooperative team members; in my group it was awful 94 mostly; all I was trying to do was organize the group more and I was called bossy; I learned more about materials." Dana writes, "I learned that making a ride is really hard; we all learned that the stilts required extra supports; I learned about the steam engine and how it works; it's difficult to work in a group sometimes; nothing really went well with our group; we always fight about opinions and the person who was being the boss never really listened to the other group members; we started to get along towards the end of the project when we realized we had to cooperate." Damion notes, "while working through this project I learned about the steamboat and how it can move, about structures which were good ones, and about potential energy from other groups; I really enjoyed this project because it was fun and challenging; working in a group was fun and helpful; we came to problems and solutions such as when the boat didn't balance with the candle and when the slide was leaking - but we came up with solutions..." Randy writes, "what I learned on this project is how easy it is to make a boat that moves on water with steam engines and that not many materials are needed; I really enjoyed it because it was fun and everyone worked just as much even if it was hard building the whole model; at the beginning our group did not get along very well and we were not getting much done, but we soon got used to working together and started planning more." The following excerpt from my fieldnotes on the same day of the written self-evaluations provides additional insights about student learning as students speak. Thursday, May 30, 1996. Apres lunch they cleaned up and then did self-evaluations at their tables. They had four questions to respond to and most of them took it very seriously. They wrote for about 20 minutes before we had to stop them ... Ross and I started reading them (self-evaluations) as students handed them in and commented to one another about them. Then I read them two excerpts from my (research) paper showing them how I was talking about their work at conferences. Thereupon Ross and I asked if they could briefly comment 95 about working on these projects for science. Of course, I had to start writing down their comments as I didn't have a recorder set up. Jade put it this way, "I really enjoyed working this way. We didn't have like tests at the end, but really it was tougher than a test cuz everyday we had to find out something new and be able to explain it. We really learned a lot." A n d Celia added, "The whole thing was like a test with no right or wrong answers. We learned along the way. It was really fun this way. Sometimes it was hard because groups didn't work out that well. But we learned how to work." Darren then adds a new twist saying, "I think the projects were really neat. It will be a total shock for the Grade 7's because we've heard that in high school all you do is write tests and memorize textbooks. We won't get to do anything anymore that is fun. Sina agrees and asserts, "We're really lucky. People always say to me you're really lucky cuz you get to do things in your class. In high school we don't get to do anything. People say your class is so lucky even people in elementary say that from other schools." Then Diva declares, "I think this is the best class in science I've ever had. We actually got to do things ourselves. We have to figure out how then." A n d Ria affirms, "You have more fun when you learn this way. This way you learn every time you do a little part." Sina then expresses a final comment before I stop writing feverishly. "When I'm actually into doing something I really want to understand it. When I'm reading a textbook it's really boring and I don't want to understand it." Without a doubt, listening to students communicate about their science adventures provided important insights to Ross and I about the nature of students' learning. 96 Conversation Piece III: Teacher and Researcher Reflections after "Amusement Park" science project (June 12th, 1996) ... we sat on the playground in the front eating our lunches and watching kids play tag, dig holes on the hall field and just running around. At 12:30ish we started our conversation more formally and I turned on the microphone. The kids played around us as we spoke and at times we paused just to let them be noisy. It was a comfortable relaxed setting and we had a conversation guided by some thoughts (prompts) I had written down beforehand. Lunch was over at 12:45 so we had no students to distract us for the last part of the interview and somehow it felt more natural as they jumped and played around us. Ross and I began this conversation by reflecting upon the third and final science project of the school year called the Amusement Park. However, we also reflected upon the year of science as a whole for about half our conversation. Pedagogical Perspectives: In the second half of our conversation, when Ross and I reflected upon all three science projects, that we expressed some specific thoughts regarding pedagogy. Ross began by identifying what he perceived as a harmony in our teaching styles throughout evolving projects. "And what I really think was interesting about the way we worked together was that we're both - I think our styles are similar in that they're both flexible. We don't try to pin down from beginning to end what's going to happen. I think we have a general timeline. But even with that we were quite flexible in what we were doing. And we let the project evolve itself. And I think that when you give it a life of its own that really changes things. And I think the kids could see that - that hey, in some ways we are the life of this project - we are determining where it's going." 97 Ross appears to identify his teaching style as flexible and adaptive/responsive to students' needs. He also points to handing over responsibility for learning to students and allowing students' ideas to emerge. In response I raise the question, "so what role do you think that we played in this?" He began by pondering, "Well, we were facilitators in the fact that we designed the problem - the challenge. I think in the sense that we were in some ways observers, but observers that had a vested interest in making sure that these projects were successful. So, we offered any kind of assistance or advice or knowledge that we could lend the groups. In some ways ... / don't think we steered them, I really think... I don't know... it's hard to define isn't it." I then respond, "Yeah, I mean we listened to the groups. Sometimes they just asked us to come look to see what we think. And sometimes they just wanted to show us what they found out. But we were there. And in some way , ... I think we also orchestrated - you know, we had a sense of what was going on in all the groups and knew when to ... stop. Let's just reevaluate. And some of the kids also mentioned that it was really important the way we set it up and got them thinking and then the discussions that we had with them sometimes - the short ones. Got them thinking in a different way. But if I had to honestly tell somebody how I did it, or how we did it..." It's "really difficult" he repeats. "Yeah, because it is evolving," I add. No doubt, Ross and I acknowledge it is difficult to define our role as teachers within this setting. It is, perhaps, because our roles were so diverse and adapted according to students' needs. As teachers we facilitated; acted as observers; provided assistance, advice and knowledge; listened; orchestrated students' activities; evaluated and reevaluated learning opportunities; directed and redirected students' thinking and activities. In short, our presence as teachers was central to student learning in the classroom community. Ross reflects, "I mean as a teacher you are the counselor. You are the psychologist. You have all these different hats that you wear." A n d I 9 8 add, "And yet people often think of teaching as exactly the opposite of what we're doing. Why aren't you telling them what to do? What do you mean you didn't give them the information?" Perhaps, it is important to reflect upon the essential differences between perceptions of what teachers do in schools and what their actual practices and responsibilities comprise. A n d more importantly, it may be crucial to reflect upon the nature of learning opportunities teachers provide for students. Perspectives on Student Learning: At the beginning of our conversation, Ross and I reflected upon student learning within the Amusement Park, as the project inspired high levels of student interest and participation. In the initial planning stages Ross remarks, "I really thought... they would pick boats because I thought the kids would want to make a beach trip out of it. It seemed to me that they were really interested in the actual project. They were concerned with what they were going to design and the boat wasn't - didn't seem to be as challenging to them. The idea of the Amusement Park seemed to be a lot more demanding and a lot more creative and I think that's what they wanted." Further to this, he remembered another teacher's comments when she came into portable N o . l . "Look around the room, everyone is engaged," she exclaimed. Moreover, the teacher adds, "one of the students on her practicum had their advisor here and this was just Utopia you know with all the kids actively participating. It was quite impressive." But, "What do we think they've learned?," I probe. A n d , in response Ross replies, "I think that number one to me is that they're turned on to science. 9 9 They love science. I mean that's ... if that was the one goal we had for the year, I think we were pretty successful. And, to me, that is the goal and all the other things that came as a result of it; the way the groupings were; the idea; learning about alternative fuels, learning about the biosphere, looking at micro climates - things like that." Secondly, students learned to work and learn together within a classroom culture of inquiry. Ross put it this way, "What was really refreshing was in this class it really came to the point where they all learned to work with each other no matter who it was. And like you said, about Jose and Lance, and how perceptions that people (other students) had of those two students changed over the project. And that is something that is quite important." He then adds, "I think it's also important for a lot of these kids - the experience working with different kids, different people. You know, that's really important. The fact of the groupings - if you left them on their own they will continue to stay with the same people they sit with and they hang around with and that's not really - it takes out one element of learning I think." Ultimately, Ross identifies the importance of social and emotional aspects of learning in our conversation. "You know, I think, it was really interesting the comments that some of the kids made about you know, what did you learn from this project? The fact that a lot of the kids didn't write academic things. I mean they were social - social and emotional things. Right?" "That's true," I respond. Elaborating, the teacher continues, "And those are key components of the curriculum. You know, social and emotional development. And that's why I think it was so important." 1 0 0 However, when thinking across all three projects a common theme of student ownership emerges once again. Ross emphasizes, "And we let the project evolve itself. And I think that when you give it a life of its own that really changes things. And I think the kids could see that - that hey, in some ways we are the life of this project - we are determining where it's going." Although in earlier reflections, Ross and I note students' abilities to communicate their understandings are impressive and others remark about knowledge students acquired, it is not until this final conversation that students' language is explicitly addressed within these projects. Ross begins by stating that, "the language definitely was impressive in terms of their presentations. I mean I remember the Biosphere 3 project and going WOW!! Where did they get this stuff from?" Moreover, "vocabulary that was never there in the beginning just blew me away in the end." I then comment that students abilities to respond to questions are similarly impressive. A n d Ross replies, "Yeah, in every presentation really. It just ... yeah, they developed a vocabulary." Moreover, students' language also revealed a sophistication of organizational abilities. Listening to students working together in their respective groups provided insights about the transition/transformation of their language usage. As Ross explains, "But also, I thought the sophistication in terms of - I think - I guess it comes down to the organization. I just thought... I was blown away at how quickly they realized what their expectations were and they saw the project from beginning to end and knew what they were going to go through. I remember listening to Randy's group talking about this last project when they were constructing and he said come on guys this is what we have to get done, he proceeded to list off everything, step by step how they were going to build it; what the presentation would have to entail; who was going to take that; you 1 0 1 see it - they were not simply working on the model. They had this project in mind, what it was going to look like in the end and also what ihe presentations were going to look like and they were thinking about it all the way through." In these final reflections, Ross and I reflect upon the dimensions / characteristics of all three science adventures. We began to think more about how we organized these learning opportunities for students. More specifically, what was it about the way we organized learning spaces across all three projects that inspired and produced such a spread of ideas and student expertise? We finished just as the tape ended and Ross rushed back to the classroom for a meeting with parents re: assignment of new teachers to the school. ... Ross reminded me about the Grade 7 graduation saying it would be great to see me there between 4:00-8:00 at Locarno Beach. 102 What counts as school science? Is elementary school science different from university science? Scene One - Participation In A n Elementary School Community Surrounded by forest on three sides, with a steep dirt trail to the Pacific, a string of portable classrooms provide temporary refuge for approximately 300 school children while the new school is built. Up the steps to the last portable on the edge of the forest, through the brown wooden door, a symphony of colours welcomes. A gallery of students' work covers the walls and the room appears alive. Looking around the room I also see seven long heavy tables and 29 chairs, a teacher's desk, three old computers, one dot matrix printer, two unconnected washrooms used for storage, one sink with no running water, four large blackboards, two book shelves with encyclopedia Britannica and dictionaries, a small storage cupboard with paper and pencils, glue and tape, a small area carpet, old couch, and an easy chair. Twenty-nine students and one teacher live together in this space, where they work and eat their lunches. They have no conventional science materials. When it rains, the portable leaks. How, then, do Grade 6 and 7 students participate in school science? In contrast to classical textbook science, in my year-long dissertation study of school science I observed and participated in three participation-rich extensive science projects. The following six elements represent key dimensions of student participation I identify within all three projects. • problem/challenge to inquire • students plan & create model/discussion with classmates • weekly informal presentations & discussions • research - reading, library & computer searches • writing • culminating event & discussion/presentation What was so important to students? It appeared that opportunities to work in teams and to engage in numerous informal discussions guided students' 103 endeavours. Students shared the responsibility of learning within their teams by helping to set goals and adapting along the way. Planning and creating an actual model also appeared to play a central role in this venture. Participation was essential. Students took ownership of their projects, and individuals within each group undertook particular dimensions individually (e.g., research and writing). Similar to the oceanographer on a cruise, it was important for students to remain open and flexible in their planning. But. are these skills and processes students use the same as those used by scientists at work (IRP, 1995), and is this important? Science Discourse Researchers agree that science discourse is an important component of scientists' practice (Dunbar, 1994; Pera, 1994), and, of students' learning in school science (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993; Gallas, 1995; Hogan & Pressley, 1997; Lemke, 1990; Meyer & Woodruff, 1996; Mueller, 1994; Reddy, 1995; Scott, 1992). Lemke put it this way, Talking science does not simply mean talking about science. It means doing science through the medium of language. Talking science means observing, describing, comparing, classifying, analyzing, discussing, hypothesizing, theorizing, questioning, challenging, arguing, designing experiments, following procedures, judging, evaluating, deciding, concluding, generalizing, reporting, writing, lecturing, and teaching in and through the language of science, (p.ix). For example, studies indicate that scientists frequently engage in informal discussions with one another, and moreover, they regularly present their current work in progress to larger groups of scientists for discussion and debate (Dunbar, 1994). O n the other hand, educational researchers indicate that students generally have few opportunities to engage in discussions in 104 school (Cazden, 1988; Goodlad, 1984; Lemke, 1990; Roth, 1994). Yet, Lemke (1990) suggests that "the one single change in science teaching that should do more than any other to improve students' ability to use the language of science is to give them more practice actually using it" (p. 168). Certainly, observations suggest that frequent discussions among scientists in both small and larger groups promote knowledge-building in science communities (Dunbar, 1994). Moreover, participation in a knowledge-building discourse emerges as fundamental within a knowledge-building community (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993). In short, it appears that although science discourse is a fundamental component of scientists' participation in their communities, this dimension is rare in students' participation in elementary school science. Scientific Reasoning/Thinking Other scholars (Dunbar, 1994; Kuhn et. al, 1988; Nersessian, 1995) emphasize the importance of scientific reasoning practices. Dunbar (1994), for example, conducted a study of scientists' reasoning in real-world laboratories. He identifies one dimension of scientists' participation, namely social participation, as the foremost component leading to conceptual change. O n the other hand, Nersessian (1995), speaks of "training students to think scientifically" suggesting that the cognitive activities of scientists can be directly relevant for student learning. That is, learning science should be facilitated by learning the problem solving practices of scientists. One must then ask what can be identified as the challenges and problem solving practices of scientists, and what content knowledge is required to engage in these practices? In addition, to what extent can we identify and codify the practices of communities of scientists in laboratories and how can these be useful to students work in a school science context? However, one might also 105 shift this focus to an elementary classroom context where it would be important to consider the purpose of children's participation. Knowledge-building Communities Interestingly, recent studies call attention to the sciences as models of knowledge-building communities (Dunbar, 1994), and recommend similar visions for student learning in schools more generally (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993). However, it is important to note that many scientists work together, rather than alone, researching particular problems over extended periods of time for months or years at a time (Dunbar, 1994). And , other scientists work alone on a project that is part of a larger project for extended periods of time. In contrast, although students work alone and in groups, they have several subjects in a day. That is, extended time working on one project is rare in schools, and extended projects in science even more unusual. Social interaction and discourse are also identified as critical in knowledge-building communities like the sciences. Ultimately, participation in a knowledge-building discourse is but one dimension of participation in science communities, and perhaps we might begin by creating opportunities for children to participate in scientific endeavours (adventures) in elementary schools. That is, students require opportunities to inquire with science content and established methodologies. 106 Scene Two - Participation In A University Science Community Labeled bottles of clear fluids line the shelves. A desk and book shelf, as well as a work bench and drawers of pipettes, corks and other supplies are provided for each individual in this laboratory. General glassware, three computers, a freezer, dishwasher, six large sinks, gas and air supply are available for common use. A machine room is located in the centre for storage of all dry chemicals, and includes a freezer, fridge, centrifuge, microwave, scales and other apparatus for common usage. In addition, more expensive items, such as incubators, are shared between laboratories. Four graduate students (two MA. students, two PhD. students) pursue work on individual projects throughout the day. At the same time, two lab technicians and a lab supervisor work on individual projects and are available if required for assistance or consultation. This work space for seven individuals is slightly larger than the portable classroom space where 29 students and their teacher engaged in science without materials. How, then, do graduate students of science participate in a university biochemistry laboratory? The following range of participation in a university science laboratory illustrates a range of participation in a scientific community. From observations and discussions with a second-year graduate student (Zagrodney, 1996) pursuing an M . Sc. in a biochemistry laboratory in British Columbia, the following six dimensions about participation in this particular science community emerged. • problem to solve from outset • daily lab work/discussion with colleagues (graduate students; lab technician; faculty supervisor) • weekly seminars/presentation of current work & discussion (graduate students & faculty) • research - reading current articles, library & computer searches • writing (less frequent) • conferences - presentations & discussion (less frequent) (graduate students & faculty) 107 Similar to the Grade 6 and 7 science class, frequent informal discussions and regular formal discussions within their science community appear to play a central role in this biochemistry lab. However, it is important to note that the context and purpose for engaging in the activity of science are different. Social participation in the form of discussion emerges as pivotal in both elementary school and university science communities. These discussions include informal conversations with peers and adults, as well as formal presentations to the school and local community. Several scholars (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993; Dunbar, 1993; Latour, 1987; Pera, 1994) recognize scientific discourse as critical within scientific communities. For instance, particular practices of argumentation and persuasion used by scientists to transform their observations into knowledge claims are considered as socially constituted ways of talking, thinking and acting within scientific communities (Latour, 1987). Likewise, the importance of scientific discussions in schools is emerging in recent literature (Driver et. al, 1994; Hogan, Pressley & Nastasi, 1996; Roth, 1994; Soloman, 1995; Woodruff & Meyer, 1995; Yerrick, 1996). As Hogan, Pressley & Nastasi (1997) point out, inquiry-based science classrooms use textbooks minimally and there is very little direct instruction. Therefore, discussions provide important opportunities for students to participate by building their ideas and scientific thinking skills in these contexts. Yet, it is important to remember that students, unlike scientists, are simultaneously learning science content as outlined in the curriculum, while learning how to participate in a community of inquiry. 108 If opportunities to participate are perceived as central in science and in classroom communities, then it is crucial to examine two co-emerging aspects of participation: physical participation and social participation. Both levels of participation influence epistemological understandings for scientists and students. Physical participation in the world is one way of coming to know. Phenomenologist, Abram (1996), speaks of "perception as participation," describing perception as "a dynamic participation between my body and things" (p.62). However, social participation in the world through discussion is also a way of knowing in the world. For example, Vygotsky (1978) theorized that knowledge is formed first on an interpersonal level, and then appropriated on an internal mental plane by each participant in the conversation. In the context of school science, epistemological and pedagogical issues unfold together when focusing on participation in classrooms. For example, how do students participate as part of the activity of science? Is their participation explicit and purposeful, and do they participate socially in discussions that extend their ways of knowing? Consequently, it is important to examine some broader issues that potentially influence how students participate in science. Previous examples of one Grade 6 and 7 classroom and one university laboratory's participation in science do not represent all participation in all classrooms or all university laboratories. In fact, the activity of science in these two examples may surprise individuals inside and outside school communities. It is important to be mindful of diverse perceptions about science, and to consider them when thinking about what kind of science we create in schools. 1U9 What kind of science do we create in schools? More specifically, what kinds of opportunities exist for students to participate in school science? After taking part in the Amusement Park celebration one Grade 3 / 4 teacher put it this way, "the real learning takes place when the kids actually have to do something and get involved and realize that its not so easy, and they really want to figure it out." 1 10 What opportunities do communities provide for learning? What makes a community of learners? Participation and Learning in Communities Elementary classroom communities are distinctly different from other communities. However, some communities outside schools may provide insights about learning that could inform learning in schools. In particular, three sociocultural perspectives on learning in communities provide some interesting links for discussions about how schools could be learning communities. That is, learning in communities may provide an important pathway connecting learning and ways to develop student expertise in classrooms. At this time, listen to three individual scores on community that may or may not contain complementary notes. Score One: Communities of Practice—Learning As Participation Lave and Wenger (1991), deliberately look outside the environment of schools to begin interrogating where learning takes place. The authors examine five different communities of practice (midwives, tailors, butchers, quartermasters, non drinking alcoholics) to develop their concept of "legitimate peripheral participation" (LPP). They first present their idea of apprenticeship wherein learning takes place in a specific context—situated learning. Thereupon, Lave and Wenger shift their perspectives from a view where cognitive processes or learning is primary, to a view where social 111 practice is primary and learning is but one of its characteristics. They shift away from a theory of situated activity in which learning is one activity toward a theory of social practice in which learning is viewed as an aspect of all activity. Lave and Wenger insist that legitimate peripheral participation is a way of understanding learning, not a pedagogical strategy or a teaching technique. Subsequently, if a theory of learning is perceived as a dimension of social practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), then learning is no longer located in the heads of individuals, but rather, learning is located in a process of co-participation (Hanks, 1991). Understanding and experience are in constant interaction and by thinking of learning as participation, "dichotomies between cerebral and embodied activity are dissolved" (Lave & Wenger, p.52). That is to say, learning involves the whole person. Hence, the critical question becomes "what kinds of social engagements provide the proper context for learning to take place " (p.14, my italics), rather than asking what kinds of cognitive processes and conceptual structures are involved. However, it is noteworthy and peculiar that in their book, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Lave and Wenger specifically announce they have no intention of talking about schools in any substantial way or exploring what their work has to say about schooling. Nevertheless, a quiet critique of schooling percolates throughout their work. How is it possible to talk about learning and to subsequently suspend thinking about learning in schools? Undoubtedly, Lave and Wenger avoid examining schools as communities of practice, but they are "persuaded that rethinking schooling from the perspective afforded by legitimate peripheral participation will turn 1 1 2 out to be a fruitful one" (p.41). What is consequential in this score on community is a shift in "the analytic focus from the individual learner to learning as participation in the social world, and from the concept of cognitive process to the more-encompassing view of social practice" (p.43). Nevertheless, Lave and Wenger recommend that the social organization of schools themselves into communities of practice may be worth investigation, as they continue not to talk about schooling. Score Two: Community of Learners—Learning As Participation Rogoff (1994), likewise proposes a theory of learning as participation, however, she directs her theory to a model of teaching and learning in schools. It is a model of a community of learners, and it contrasts with one-sided or individual notions of learning that argue for either a transmission of knowledge from experts (adult-run) or acquisition of knowledge by novices (children-run) through discovery (Rogoff, 1994). More specifically, her community of learners model is based on theoretical notions of learning as a process of transformation of participation (Newman, Griffin, & Cole, 1989; Rogoff, 1994; Rogoff, 1993). That is, regular opportunities for participation in activities with adults allow students to take greater ownership thus transforming their participation in a group. Hence the site and nature of participation plays a larger role. Yet, Rogoff also cautions us not to view her model as the one best model of learning, but rather, to consider it as a model that permits children to learn in different ways. Consequently, it is important to understand that a "community-of-learners" model is not an attempt to blend transmission and discovery models, but, instead, it is a distinct instructional model based on the philosophy that 1 1 3 learning is reciprocal and the sociocultural context is critical (Rogoff, 1994). That is, in a community of learners, children and adults are active together in shared endeavours. While adults are responsible for guiding the overall process, children also learn to take some responsibility for their own learning and involvement in activities (Brown & Campione, 1990; Newman, Griffin, & Cole, 1989; Rogoff, 1995). Rogoff points out that community-of-learners approaches occur in informal learning in many communities where children learn through participation with adults in community activities. In addition, some apprenticeships involve novices learning through the opportunity to observe and work with others who exhibit a diversity of skills and knowledge. For these reasons, Rogoff is convinced that instruction in schools can be organized in other ways than the predominant adult-run model. Score Three: Knowledge-building Communities In contrast to score one, Bereiter and Scardamalia (1993) sing their conception of a knowledge-building community directly for schools. Similar to Rogoff, the authors propose a third educational alternative, in attempts to interrupt what they call the steady swing of the educational pendulum between didactic instruction and child-centered education. They do not look for a compromise, or complement, but rather, a new 'third way' to envision a redesign of schools. Initially, Bereiter and Scardamalia look to the sciences as a model of a knowledge-building community. They argue that the sciences, for example, are noted to be extremely successful at producing continual advances to higher levels of knowledge through a process of progressive problem solving. Subsequently, they attempt to link their ideas of expertise with scientific knowledge-building communities, to recommend a third way to envision school environments. Bereiter and Scardamalia ask, "What if 1 14 schools could have the dynamic character of scientific knowledge building?" It is perhaps noteworthy that this question resonates with Lave and Wenger's earlier question regarding the social context of learning. Both questions address possibilities. Most dramatically, and similar to scores one and two, Bereiter and Scardamalia propose that we must shift our attention from individuals to groups, and inquire into how classrooms can function as knowledge-building communities. What sounds of community are heard, and are there sounds of silence? First, all three scores on community accent participation. Second, these sounds of community stress the social dimension of learning. Whether it is called learning as co-participation, group knowledge-building discourse or adults and children learning together, all three scores on community echo the social aspect of learning. Third, all three scores provide suggestions or recommendations for a "redesign" or "reorganization" of schools. Nevertheless, as Lortie (1975) cautions, "schooling is long on prescription, short on description (preface)." Correspondingly, the absence or silence of children's and teachers' voices in educational research are striking. What is this place we call school? In contrast, as an educational researcher, I begin with description using an ethnographic approach. I describe a dynamic collaborative learning environment where children eagerly participate in science. In particular, I identify "spaces of inquiry" that afforded children diverse opportunities to participate with science content in a community of inquiry. How do spaces of inquiry inspire and invite students to participate in the practices of science? 1 1 5 Dynamic Spaces of Inquiry What might dynamic spaces be? What are spaces of inquiry? What makes them dynamic? Spaces vary in size, character, and purpose. Some spaces seem inert at times and at other times these spaces hum with activity. A space may change over time. Spaces change depending on who or what is in the space. So, what makes a space dynamic? Is it movement? There is movement within, between, and around spaces. A dancer's movement, for example, is often described as dynamic when s/he communicates with an audience. In scientific terms, dynamics is described as a branch of mechanics concerned with the motion of bodies under the action of forces (Oxford, 1992). The motion of bodies under the action of forces. A n energy, force or motion. So, within what I characterize or describe as dynamic spaces, that energy is movement. Movement of ideas and materials and voices. Individuals communicate, inquire and interact with one another, sparked by a spontaneous ignition of ideas flowing, spinning and changing directions. Definitions and ideas of, and about spaces certainly vary (Graham & Marvin, 1996; Gregory, 1994; Heathcote & Bolton, 1995; Kirk, 1984). The word space is defined as "a continuous unlimited area or expanse which may or may not contain objects," or as "an empty area or room," or as "an interval between one, two, or three dimensional points or objects" in the Oxford dictionary. However, all three definitions suggest that space can be measured or visualized, and more importantly, they lack attention to individuals who participate in creating spaces. The spaces I speak of are spaces of opportunity -spaces of possibilities not yet realized. These are social spaces of interaction. These are dramatic spaces. Heathcote and Bolton (1995), point to the power of 1 16 learning within imagined contexts in schools — imagined spaces. I am particularly interested in, and focused on, the creation of spaces of inquiry for students to participate in school science. These spaces of inquiry afford students opportunities to communicate and participate, allowing them to develop a diversity of expertise. I - A Conception of Spaces of Inquiry What exactly or more precisely do I mean by spaces of inquiry in school science? What could be characterized as science spaces? Is it a place like a science lab? Or is it that creative space where scientific ideas are discussed as students participate with science content? The teacher and I created spaces of inquiry for student learning precisely because they opened up possibilities for actual interactions with their peers, adults and outside experts. Children expressed their tentative ideas, listened to each other, asked questions and provided feedback for one another. These are not trivial accomplishments in a class of 29 students at school. At the same time, children had the opportunity to participate with science content, instead of reading about science from a textbook. They conducted research (in school culture this implies searching for information in the library and on the internet, for example), created drawings, constructed models and presented their findings to an audience. The science context encouraged children to think from within a situation, and, perhaps, this created the possibility for a different kind of thinking. In short, children endeavoured to work and cohere as a scientific team. This also was no small achievement. 1 1 7 Participation and Spaces of Inquiry Spaces of inquiry that emerged within and across three science adventures provided opportunities for children to participate. Children participated with science content and they participated within a community of inquiry. What was the nature of participation within and across these spaces of inquiry? How do 11 and 12 year old children enact, express, reveal what they know? Spaces of inquiry are not fixed by location, but rather, they are characterized by social interactions and purpose of inquiry. There is inquiry at the group level, inquiry at the class level, and inquiry at the larger community level. Moreover, dynamics within spaces changed depending on the individuals present and on the time and stage in the challenge, for example. Overall, opportunities to participate within different spaces of inquiry contributed to a diversity of learning opportunities. Spaces of Inquiry Emerge I still remember several prospective teachers and parents in the audience exclaiming "this is incredible" and "how did they get here?" in their comments about what they perceived students had learned at the culminating event. Likewise, this question lingers in my mind: how did they get here? "How did they get here?" What opportunities did students have that allowed them to acquire such expertise at a variety of topics as enacted in their confident communication/interactions with an audience and as revealed in their final products ? Initially, I focused on the culminating event. Yet, as I traced the pathways that lead to what I began to identify as a patterns of 'student expertise,' I realized that other spaces also played a significant role within and across all three science adventures. 1 1 8 Although I began by thinking that the culminating event or "performative space" was most characteristic of student expertise, I now realize that expertise evolved over time. Similarly, our science curriculum and classroom community evolved over time. At the outset, for example, many students did not know the word or understand the concept of a biosphere or fuel cell. Yet, by the end of each project students confidently shared their expertise on these topics by using their drawings, research and models as resources. However, this participation with science content and participation in a community of inquiry created a particular environment inviting a desire to inquire. So, how did students move from accepting a challenge to participate in a scientific adventure, to actually taking part? What opportunities did students have to create and communicate? When looking across the three projects I see two distinct spaces of inquiry in addition to the performative space that enabled students to participate in school science. Students had several opportunities to present their works in progress to their classroom community. This interaction with their peers and teacher served as what I call a "rehearsal space," where students fielded questions about their drawings, research, and models. In this 'rehearsal space' students experimented with diverse presentation styles (use of visuals, drama) and practiced responding to and generating questions with peers. Ultimately, it was an initial opportunity for students to pull together their ideas and to present to a peer audience. Students regarded this as an important opportunity to communicate works and ideas in progress - learning along the way. Rehearsal spaces of inquiry are distinct from performative spaces in purpose, and location in the adventure. Many rehearsals contribute to the celebration of learning at the end of each adventure. 11 y However, students' ideas germinated in another space. In what I describe as a "generative space," students worked in diverse groups of four or five. Students brainstormed their ideas and discussed possibilities before deciding as a group how to proceed. It was here that students experienced many highs and lows as they often struggled to cohere as a group. Students had opportunities to communicate tentative ideas and time to listen to each others' ideas in this generative space. In response to a challenge, students were invited to engage in science, as opposed to study science. Students indicated in interviews that this was a rare opportunity in their past school science experiences. These challenges provided the genesis of our science curriculum, student expertise and our community of inquiry. From the beginning we established an emergent philosophy regarding science adventures in the classroom. That is, the teacher and I communicated our intentions to students by showing them that there was no fixed blueprint for action; but rather, this was a learning opportunity for all of us. It was not unlike the actual experiences of the oceanographer mentioned earlier who pointed out, "I never know what w i l l happen." Our project wou ld evolve over time. We began wi th a challenge and encouraged students to work and learn collaboratively as a community of inquiry. Children had opportunities to apply science and they had a chance to understand the connection of science in their wor ld. This was purposeful activity wherein the processes and outcomes were inextricably linked. Educational philosopher, John Dewey (1897) remarked that education "is a process of l iv ing and not a preparation for future l iv ing" (p.7) reminding educators that truly educative experiences become part of the life experience of the child. Overall, our science curr iculum attempted to honour and enrich children's experiences. 1 2 0 Correspondingly, spaces of inquiry emerged. We wanted students to work in small groups to parallel a scientific team striving to learn together, and I now identify this learning opportunity as a generative space. Although the teacher and I visited with groups while they worked, along the way we decided that regular informal presentations to the entire class of work in progress wou ld help us all better understand how this project was evolving. I identify this learning opportunity as a rehearsal space. A n d finally, we planned a culminating event for students to present their findings to the class and ourselves. However, we then decided that students should have the opportunity to present their creations to a wider audience outside our classroom community. This learning opportunity became what I define as a performative space. Spaces of inquiry emerged throughout the projects. It is only now, as researcher, that I am beginning to recognize the potential merit of these three particular spaces for student learning. A l l three spaces of inquiry create a diversity of possibilities for student learning -- possibilities to participate. 121 What were these three spaces and do we need multiple spaces in education? II - L o o k i n g Inside Spaces of Inqu i ry Genera t ive Spaces At first it sounded like noise. I heard voices from all corners of the room trying to say something all at once. A l l at once. But then I sat down at one table and began to listen to the voices of one group generating ideas. As I listened, I realized that this space opened up opportunities for students to voice their ideas and to play with their thoughts. A t times the tone was collaborative and at other times it was argumentative. But, more importantly, students attempted to cohere as a group. In this venture to communicate, students talked, drew out their ideas and consulted books and the internet. While I was at this table, the voices of the other 25 students seemed like background noise as I focused on one particular group. I wonder if it was always so easy for students to block out the voices of their classmates. Purpose : Genera t ive spaces p r o v i d e students w i t h oppor tuni t ies to l ea rn col laborat ively . It is a creative, dynamic , open-ended space of possibi l i t ies . Students express tentative ideas, l is ten to each other, discuss problems, negotiate, a n d make decisions i n this space. This space reverberates w i t h a diversity of students' ideas as they w o r k together b r a i n s t o r m i n g a n d record ing their ideas. L is ten . W h a t do y o u hear? The expectations of this space f rom the teacher's perspective is that students are responsible for o r g a n i z i n g their t ime and coming to consensus i n this space. M o r e o v e r , s tudents need to be p repa red to communicate their ideas to other teams as w e l l as l i s ten to other teams and engage i n conversat ions about p roposed ideas. Students spend most of their project t ime w o r k i n g i n a generative space, so it is essential for them to learn to collaborate as a team. These col laborat ive efforts require students to develop specific social sk i l l s to 122 succeed (Linn & Burbules, 1993). From a student's perspective this space is described in the following ways: "it's hard to cooperate in a group" and "sometimes you have to make a compromise in a group" and "I really enjoyed working in a group because you learn things from each other and solve problems together." It is a space of responsibility and an opportunity to take ownership for their learning. Ultimately this generative/creative space is where students learn how to work as a team and where they generate the ideas that evolve into their final creations. Physical Location: When working in generative spaces students generally congregate at a group table, where they make decisions about how to proceed on any particular day. That is, students basically change their seating arrangements in the classroom in order to work in their respective science groups. With 29 students in a small portable classroom it is often difficult to hear. The teacher and I generally rotate sit/listen in with individual groups at this time. However, according to group needs and decisions, students also work at the computers in the classroom or in the school library. Overall, students tend to work at their group tables so that six or seven groups work/learn side by side in their portable classroom. Students' Creations/Inventions: Generative spaces foster and invite creation/invention. It is here that students work on, and produce their scale drawings, research reports, presentations and models. Though they often took work home to complete, it is in these generative spaces that students' work and create together. 1 2 3 Communication: "I have an idea." "That's a good idea." "Maybe..." "That won't work." "What if...?" These comments are intended to give an initial sense about the ways in which students communicated generally across projects in generative spaces. However, an analysis of a specific passage from a transcript of student communication within a generative space provides further details. Inside a Generative Space: (Group #4 - May 3/1996) This brief passage marks the beginning of Team Stormchaser's collaborative efforts. Two girls, one in Grade 6 and one in Grade 7, and two boys, one in Grade 6 and one in Grade 7, form this team. The teacher and I had just allocated the groups for the Amusement Park adventure and students had approximately 20 minutes to begin brainstorming their ideas before lunch. This was the first time they sat down as a a group. 124 taking responsibility building on ideas tentative ideas mechanics of ride building on ideas mechanics of ride building on ideas mechanics of ride clarification sought mechanics of ride responsibility Christa: Okay, Lance isn't here. Renate: Well, we should start and get some ideas. Christa: Like you could be sitting here and the hurricane would come. Renate: Yeah, it would start like a slow whistle and then it would get louder and louder and then you start to feel the hurricane and you go upside down. El i : Maybe we could do...to make it more real... Renate: I was thinking we could have it spiralling down so that... instead of having to have ... Christa: Renate you're right, you're right, you're right. So you have it at the top and it goes down like that. Renate: Cuz then gravity can pull it down instead of having to have something pushing it. Christa: You're like being sucked in and all these things are flying around. Renate: And there would be like wind and all sorts of junk flying around. Well, we could have glass over the actual car and rain could come down and it would be like raining and thunder and we wouldn't get them wet. Eh: Yeah. Christa: The rain comes down and the actual screen is wet and you hear lightening and there will be like speakers inside. Eh: Yeah. Yes. Christa: Yeah, and it will actually be raining and you start off slowly and then faster and then you go out the door and then all of a sudden it slows down and its quiet and the rain stops. Eh: Well, you wouldn't be able to see everything and ... Christa: That's not the point. You're in a hurricane. Do you see everything? Is everything really slow? No. Renate: And it's not like it's going really fast because depending on the slant of the ramp it will go really fast or it can go slower and pick up speed. And at the end it can flatten out a little bit so that the speed is not so great that you can't see anything. You see what i mean? You get my point? EJi: Yeah. Renate: You should be writing this down Christa cuz we're going to forget it all. Just a minute, I'm going to ask Ross if we can take the tape and just replay it and listen to our ideas. 125 Return to Generative Space: (Group #4 - May 23/1996) The sounds of team communication towards the end of the project contrast with sounds of communication at the beginning of the project. Team Stormchaser is feeling the pressure of timelines to finish, and since one team member has been absent for a few classes he is directed to help in particular ways. It is five days before the actual Amusement Park performance and this group is working intently on designing their ride. Their discussions revolve around completing their ride as opposed to thinking about what ride to make. Upon returning to a generative space on May 22nd, the following excerpts were audible: directing Renate: If vou grab the wire and make little cars out of wire then we can paper mache them. directing Christa: Start drawing cars... like car ideas. suggesting encouraging teacher prompts Renate: Or, vou can sand, (busy sounds) Renate: Guvs, we really need to get going - the 25th this is due and that's in five days, (busy sounds) Ross: This group needs to get a little more enthusiastic about getting things done. request for materials Lance: We need a coathanger. anxiety Renate: Evervone else is so far ahead. It's not fair. uncertainty El i : We don't even know if this will work. 1 2 6 Rehearsal Spaces I remember sensing it was time to stop the groups and ask students to present their works in progress to our classroom community. Initially, I think, the teacher and I felt we needed a more accurate idea of what students had accomplished to date and of their current struggles. Students gathered around the carpet area, sitting on the couch, floor and chairs. One by one, in no specific order, each group presented their works in progress using drawings, models, the chalkboard, or other ways to help convey their current plans. After their presentations students in the audience asked for clarification and further information, prompting further discussions. It was a unique opportunity to listen to students express their ideas and contemplate a diversity of options based on other students or teachers queries. We soon realized that these spaces were very informative specifically for students, in addition to us, and gave them the vital opportunity to ask and respond to questions about their creations. Purpose: I n rehearsal spaces students a t tempt to push the boundaries of what they know and i n the process expand each others' ideas. I t is a space of vo iced possibi l i t ies. I n this space, l is tening, ref lect ing, re f raming , i n q u i r i n g , and respond ing are cr i t ical. Interact ions are p r e d o m i n a n t l y s tudent -s tudent as they seek to describe and clar i fy their ideas. F r o m a teacher's perspect ive, the expectat ion of this space is for students to present their ideas in the format of their choosing to the larger class c o m m u n i t y and to allow others to make comments and contributions. This space also a l lows the teacher the o p p o r t u n i t y to check on the progress of groups and to l is ten to the issues that the who le c o m m u n i t y of students raise. I t is an open space of col lect ive i n q u i r y . One g i r l remarks , "... we can share ideas and some people have really good ideas." A n d another g i r l asserts, "/ learned how to be more confident about presenting something." 1 2 7 Physical Location: In rehearsal spaces students generally gathered around the carpet area in their portable classroom and used a small open area as their stage. Sometimes, however, it was more practical for students to remain at their individual group tables so that models did not have to be transported unnecessarily. These spontaneous opportunities were announced as the need arose and usually occurred weekly. Often students used visual aids or parts of their work in progress when illustrating what they were currently working on and when explaining problems they encountered. When one group was presenting, the other members of the class usually sat on the couch or carpet or nearby chairs listening. It was intended to be an informal rehearsal space for sharing findings, as well as practice communicating and interacting with an audience. Creation / Invention; In rehearsal spaces students had opportunities to display their work in progress to their peers and to their teacher. More specifically, students used their drawings, research, and models as needed to explain/support their presentations. It was also an opportunity to share innovative ideas and to brainstorm possibilities as a community. Rehearsal spaces were organized spontaneously by Ross and I, and depended upon what we learned from listening to students working in generative spaces. 128 Communication: "We could combine the idea." "What do you think?" "Maybe...it might work." "We're not exactly sure..." "I just had an idea." "The problem is..." These comments are representative of general or familiar comments made in rehearsal spaces across projects, and represent inter-group ideas. Communication from transcripts of a class discussion on May 3, 1996 about the guidelines for the Amusement Park adventure are provided below. Inside Rehearsal Spaces: (May 3 - audio & video class discussion) This collaborative session began by reading aloud students' written suggestions regarding their proposals for our third science adventure. It was a unique opportunity for students to shape the direction and requirements of the Amusement Park since the previous two science challenges were given to students by their teacher. After some initial discussion this dialogue begins. 129 seeks clarification leaving it open for students to decide, but providing ideas encourages talk-discussion; responsibility seeks students' ideas/contribution s students take part in decision-making process Randy: Does the way the model works have to be the same as the real one? Ross: You're right. One question might be how does a real rollercoaster work? And a second question would be how does our rollercoaster model work? It might be two different explanations. Andrea: The challenge is to make it work and that means moving. Ross: What about the order of timelines? At the end of next week do you want to be responsible for drawings or research? No, I don't want a vote. I want you to speak to what you think on this matter. Jade: So, we don't need to show how it works inside on the drawing? (Teacher prompts students to participate in shaping the direction and requirements of the science adventure. He insists they communicate their ideas to the class) Ross: Remember to create a rollercoaster is a difficult task. Remember we're speaking to drawings or research. Why a particular order? Speak to this; 1) drawings; 2) research; 3) model. Shahra: We should first find out what groups are doing? Ross: We'll find out right now, hopefully by noon today what your group is going to decide. Okay, we want to have an idea, by the end of noon today. Sina: I think we should do research first because when you do the drawing first, you make up what it's going to be like, then when you do the research you think oh we could have done it this way and then you change the drawing cause you find out that something might not work or whatever, or its better to do it a different way and so then you want to change your drawing. Celia: I think we should do the drawings first because if you do the drawings first then you sort of know what you need to research and so you say like I want it to run on this power source or whatever and so you research that power source and make your model or whatever. Randy: I think research first because we need to find out what the best way to build is or better. Ross: So, how to design it? (Ross) Randy: Yeah. Like if you find out what's real at the PNE, like what kind of things they do and what kind of sources they use, we'll know better for the drawing. We'll know better what to think about. 1 3 0 Return to Rehearsal Space (May 22 - class discussion) The sounds of rehearsal spaces also have a different resonance later on in the Amusement Park science adventure as students approach their goal of opening their fairground to their school community in only eight days. Fieldnotes - Wednesday, May 22, 1996. In the last 20 minutes of class time we stopped the groups and ask them to briefly explain and show where they were at to the class. Then if they needed any help or ideas from the class people could make suggestions. This worked very well as students gladly offered their ideas and were genuinely helpful with regards to ideas for materials. A few groups were really happy to have some suggestions for where to go next with their ride ideas. We may do this again on Friday and on Tuesday before the final presentations as it was very insightful. 151 Ross: Andrea and I are very pleased that today has gone much better than the last two days. We were a little worried again. But we should know by now that you always get your act together. So we're pleased to see groups starting construction today. teacher prompt Andrea: Any ideas? student query Christa: I don't understand why, I mean what do vou mean the wire wouldn't work? Renate, what do you mean? explanation Renate: Cuz wire when vou bend it one way it stays that way and the wire would have to wind up and... Oh I see, but what you can do is... new idea proposed Celia: You could have the car move. So the car just slides down the wire. building on idea Sina: Yeah, you could have the wire wrapped around and it's attached to both ends of the stick and then you have another stick with two cars and a little loop in the middle and it just goes around the bottom wire which will make it fall... see what I mean? Celia: And then vou wouldn't have to worry about... further explanation Renate: Cuz this is the wire that goes around and then there's a little loop of more wire around that piece, around that piece of wire that's curled up. Okay? seeks clarification Ross: Do vou understand what she's saving? Renate: No. Andrea: Sina do vou mean something like this, like this part will slide down the wire? Sina: Yeah, kinda. OHHHHHH!!!! Andrea: A few more comments. I see I think... teacher prompt Ross: Any other comments? I think it's a great idea. Andrea: Mavbe try that idea out at home to see what will work. 132 At this point, the next group begins its presentation from their group table. Audiorecorders are on at each table as they were collaborating in their teams. student query Sina: So, when you put the... the buggies will hang off the side. You'll have to make it lower. clarification Bria: No. We're just going to put little fences here so people will walk along here right and then there's an elastic in the middle. Sina: And then it spun this way... think aloud Bria: We're not exactly sure if we'll have the buggies spin or not cuz it's too hard. attempt to reframe Jade: Say this isn't here, then this would be on this side and these go together and then... response to classmate Bria: Yeah, but that is going to be on the bottom and we haven't cut that yet. We have to cut it around. Andrea: And vou need to think about that. Bria: So, the bottom's not going to spin anymore. Jade: It will probably go up... time limit Ross: One last question Bria. student query Celia: Won't it swing back across it? You know the buggies on the end, aren't they gonna hit cuz it's sorta too close? explanation Bria: No, because this part is raising and this slides in here and this... we need to cut the circle around and the buggies will be hanging off the side so when it raises then it will spin. Celia: Okav. cuz when vou lower it thev might hit the sides of the thing cuz they're so close. (More discussion from others.) student query Renate: I was just going to sav when it's up won't it fall back down again? explanation Bria: No we're going to put a piece of balsa wood there. The people that really know how to make the ride would do it better but we're just going to stick the balsa wood through. positive feedback; suggestions Ross: It looks good. You're not going to find out whether it works until you build it. You might have to think about stronger materials for that core - that's the only thing I can think of. student reflection Bria: It's not going to have a lot of pressure though. giving ownership to students Ross: I might be wrong so vou decide. 133 Performative Spaces The Water Wheel ride is still spinning as the Slingshot bounces up and down and the Spinning Tornado takes another whirl. With approximately 60 children and four adults in the portable classroom it is difficult to move and hear what is going on. The classroom has been transformed into a fairground with six rides to choose from, clowns to smile with you, balloons dancing on the ceiling and the excitement of fun in the air. And as I listen in to an explanation at the Wild Rapids ride I am intrigued at how this steamboat actually works as are the kindergarten children crowded around anxious to watch another run. "Can you make it go faster?" one child exclaims. "Why is the candle important?" another child wonders. I feel excited for them because I know how challenging it was to make this ride and I watched them go through stages of discovery and failed attempts. Now I see an open space at the Plunge and decide to go over to listen and learn. Purpose: Performative spaces are indicative of dynamic participation with an audience. It is a performative and simultaneously a transformative space. This is a unique opportunity for students to transform their roles and registers as they present their finished creations. Students became fish biologists and mechanical engineers, for example, and they spoke a different language. Students co-create with their audience and re-perform that which they know/have learned each time they interact. That is, each time students interact with someone in the audience they have a new opportunity to respond and express their ideas. Questions they are asked may infact prompt students to expand their thinking. For example, during the transportation exhibition one adult asked, "Do you think this system is really a possibility for the future and would you drive such a vehicle?" Once again the spread of expertise permeates this space as students demonstrate their knowledge, and their ability to reflect, interpret and engage in conversation/discussion with members outside their classroom community. 134 Overall, expectations of this space are that students meet a standard set by their teacher and I to participate in this space where there is an audience other than classmates. Students are expected to converse individually with any members of the audience that choose to interact with them regarding their work. Work in the form of diagrams, research and models are available for display and reference. The primary purpose of this space from a teacher's perspective is for students to have an audience as a goal for completion of their scientific inquiries and an opportunity to express their learning. For students, this is an opportunity to highlight their learning and engage in discussions that provide feedback for them. It is yet another opportunity to communicate and participate in expressing their expertise. Students made the following comments: "I enjoyed presenting to others," Diva states. A n d , "I learned how to present and explain the process of our engine so that others would understand it," Jade asserted. Yet, Thomas was convinced, "that it's easier to present to college students than your own classmates." Physical Location: Although the physical space varied for all three culminating events/performances, students always interacted with an audience outside their classroom community. In the first Biosphere 3 adventure, students presented one group at a time in an auditorium at a local university. The audience was seated and asked questions between presentations and at the end. In the second Vehicle Visions adventure, students were situated in a large university classroom space with individual group booths. Audience members were in motion interacting with students at their team booths for approximately an hour. In the third Amusement Park adventure, students presented their projects to six different classes ranging from kindergarten to 1 Grade 7 in their own portable classroom. It became the fairground. Once again participants were free to wander about and ask questions randomly. A l l three performative spaces provided students the opportunity to express their 'knowing' by sharing their creations, as well as an opportunity to engage with others in reflective conversations. Students' Creations/Inventions; By the time students participate in performative spaces of inquiry their creations are complete and they are prepared, and excited about, expressing their expertise to an audience. The culminating event is not simply a passive display of their final product to an audience, but rather, it is an opportunity to communicate what they have learned and to celebrate as a community. Students told us that this opportunity to express their learning to others made it seem like their work was really important. 136 Communication: Although all three culminating events were videotaped, it was impossible to record individual conversations with 30-60 members of the audience engaging with 29 students. However, the following questions provide some indications of the nature of the discussions students had the opportunity to participate in with an audience. These comments are selected from all three adventures. "I like the way... " "What a cool idea..." "How did you think of this?" "What are the waste products?" "Can you recycle this water?" "Can you explain how this works?" "Where does the hydrogen and oxygen come from?" "What safety features does the car have?" "I don't quite understand how this works?" "Does it run on water or gas? No gas at all? How does that work?" "How long will the solar cells last?" "How much do you estimate such a vehicle would cost and how soon will this he a possibility?" 1 3 7 III - Looking Across Spaces of Inquiry Emergent Curriculum Children began all three science adventures with a challenge and then responded to it. Depending on the constellation of their group particular ideas emerged and students developed these ideas over time. It was an emergent science. These projects were not written out in the curriculum guide, nor were these projects planned from beginning to end. For the teacher and I it was clear from the beginning that this would be an emergent curriculum. That is, we did not know how the project would unfold. We were prepared to parachute and begin anew if children were not interested or able to proceed with the challenge. This was science in the making, and it was not the usual science of elementary schools. Time also plays an important role in this emergent curriculum. Students require large blocks of time to engage in, and to sustain their scientific inquiries. They also require materials to aid them in their investigations. Moreover, although it is important for students to have timelines they also need time for their ideas to evolve and time to engage in discussions with team members, other team's members, teachers, parents, other children and specialists. If in fact it is a real investigation then they need time to do the research, drawings, models and to give informal presentations. There is perhaps an immersion and a submersion time or silent time. Time to compose ideas. Time to think, to discuss, ask questions, draw, re/search, write, and construct. Students require time to learn how to participate and communicate in their new roles. 138 Similarly, motivation plays a critical role in this adventure into the world of science at school. From a teacher's perspective it is important for students to be engaged and for this to happen they must be interested and intrigued by the challenge. From a student's perspective the motivation seems to stem from the opportunity to work in groups and the opportunity to "actually do something." For example, students envisioned the Biosphere 3 science project as a real issue in the world and that made it seem important to inquire about. Afterall, "scientists have not yet figured it out," they reminded us. If students engage in an actual scientific investigation, then it is not possible to know in advance what they will discover. Although the challenge set by the teacher in this instance will require students to do research, and so on, the final outcome is unknown. This makes it difficult to follow set curriculum outcomes as the outcomes of such a project are emergent learning outcomes. There is, however, no doubt that students have learned both science content and ways of participating in a community of inquiry. Students are provided with an opportunity to step out of their roles as students studying science into the roles of individuals immersed in a scientific community of inquiry working towards a goal with a timeline. Science in action. Heathcote and Bolton (1995), argue that when "students inhabit their roles as experts" they think quite differently. Now students communicate and participate as members of a team and they are responsible for communicating their findings to the scientific community in the classroom. The science script is being written along the way as students interact with one another. This is not ready-made science but science in the making. 13 9 Emergent Expertise Students cultivated a way of collaborating - of working it out - in their respective teams. Although each adventure was a new beginning with a new team, students gathered ideas about how to approach team tasks and how to listen, respond and inquire as a group and as a classroom science community. Students gained expertise at participating in a community of inquiry. Time was a critical player in evolving expertise. Students were given time and space to nurture their tentative ideas. Time to allow their ideas to grow and to blossom. Students were immersed in a scientific endeavour and they struggled alone and together to reach a space where they performed/ transformed their knowing for an audience. In their self-evaluations for the Biosphere 3 project students indicated the following about learning in a group: • / learned how hard it is to come up with ideas and trying to convince everyone else in the group to like it. • I learned that arguing doesn't solve anything. • / learned to realize that some people's ideas may he better. • / learned a person can't hope to do all the work. • I have learned that I need to find out who is doing what when so that I can help. • / learned about how to work in a group. • I learned that it is hard to put everyone's ideas into one and from those ideas get a good product. • To improve the project I would have tried harder to understand other people's opinions/ideas. • / learned that working in a group is really good because we could help each other and solve problems together. • I learned that you sometimes have to make a compromise in a group. 140 Moreover, students generated ideas together and over time within their respective groups and within their class. There was a spread of ideas - a spread of knowing - across groups. That is, student expertise at science content evolved throughout three science projects as they learned together. Their expertise was evident at the group/class level but also as individuals. Some would say it was communicated in their writing or speaking individually, but it was as a group and as a class that they generated, reframed and eventually performed/transformed their expertise. In their self-evaluations for the Biosphere 3 project students indicated the following about learning science content: • Designing an imitation of life on earth is way more complicated than it first seems. • / didn't realize that things we think of as pests are so important. • Algae are good oxygen producers; marshes are like a filter; tilipia fish grow very fast. • You must have a lot of plants in the biosphere. • In Arizona it's hot in the day, but at night it's really cold. • A large mirror can't burn things; only small ones. • / learned how algae produced oxygen. • / learned how many components are required to support life. • I learned what a photovoltaic panel is; what a hydroponic greenhouse is. • I learned how hard it is to develop different systems and incorporate them in your bisosphere. • You need lots of information about a habitat to make a biosphere. • I learned about the real biosphere. • Life on the moon is possible. • You have to choose the people that go in the biosphere carefully. • I didn't know what a biosphere was when we first started planning. 1 4 1 Overall, generative spaces resonate with a diversity of students' ideas. I identify this space as generative, in that students propose a range of ideas that often seem sparked by each other's ideas. Students assume responsibility for organizing their time and coming to team consensus in this space. They have the opportunity to develop expertise at the level of the team. In rehearsal spaces of inquiry, students have an opportunity to spread their expertise at the classroom level in their community of inquiry. It is a rehearsal space, where students ask questions and engage in discussions regarding their works-in-progress. Finally, in performative spaces students herald their expertise at science content. Therefore, all three spaces of inquiry provide students with different opportunities to communicate and participate, and develop expertise at learning collaboratively. Emergent Community When looking across all three dynamic spaces, an interesting pattern emerges. More specifically, although students begin knowing very little about the scientific adventure they embark upon, each time they reach the end of the project they express a range of knowing about their respective areas. In addition, their communication and participation evolves throughout this period of scientific inquiry. The nature of the questions students ask, the depth of their responses to one another, and their thoughtful and engaging comments, all reflect what I identify as evolving expertise - an expertise at inquiry. However, at the same time, students develop a sense of community working together on this scientific endeavour. They engage with a scientific community when they interact with university science students and researchers or scientists. It appears to provide an important opportunity for students to develop a sense of connection to a larger scientific community. 142 Opportunities to listen to, and engage with, various science specialists throughout the year also contributed to students developing a sense of community. After we had a specialist visit the classroom or we visited a site, students' expectations of themselves often increased and similarly, our expectations of them increased. It was as if they reached beyond themselves — surpassing themselves. We often learned about students' initiatives to contribute to their team's endeavours through reading their self-evaluations. For example, several groups contacted companies using solar cell energy and the hydrogen fuel cell to inquire about how they actually worked. In their determination to learn, students communicated with individuals inside and outside their classroom community. That is, the classroom community interacted with the university science community, and the broader science community worldwide (e.g., specialists, internet). Ultimately, like scientists, students worked within an emerging knowledge-building community. The science spaces that evolved to support and sustain our classroom community, are not unlike the spaces of scientists in the field. Generative Space I perhaps parallels the work of scientific teams collaborating on projects. As mentioned earlier, the oceanographer, for example, worked with several different scientific teams on each cruise to the Arctic. Rehearsal Space II, is not unlike some scientists' attempts to share their works-in-progress in order to receive feedback from their peers. Teams of scientists on the cruise met as a community each day to discuss plans, problems and possibilities for the day. A n d finally, Performative Space III, is similar to the final paper that is usually presented at scientific conferences to a wider audience. After each cruise a detailed data report and presentations follow, and there is usually an opportunity to engage in discussion. Nevertheless, although our science 1 4 3 spaces in the classroom may parallel the work of some scientists in the field, it is important to remember that Grade 6 / 7 students engage in science for different purposes. Students can, however, apply this process of learning throughout their lives as they continue to learn, and, recognize how science connects to the real world. IV - Conclusion If we create spaces for students to engage in purposeful science, then, we also create opportunities for students to communicate and learn as a community of inquiry. The three spaces that emerged in our year of science, namely a generative space, rehearsal space and performative space may be useful for orchestrating emergent science projects. Moreover, curriculum, expertise, and community evolved over time within, between, and across these three participation spaces. It is a different way of teaching and a different way of learning. However, these spaces of opportunity create learning possibilities for students we have yet to imagine. Imagine? Yes. Imagine the possibilities. Looking across all three science inquiry-projects over the school year, we observed and participated in an evolving community of inquiry that generated student expertise at two distinct levels. In general, students learned how to participate in a community of inquiry over time. With each project they carried with them the experiences of the prior project, and they developed strategies for working alone, as a team and as a class. These strategies may also be useful to students in other learning contexts. More specifically, students generated a repertoire of knowledge/expertise in three scientific areas. They learned how to distribute the workload, brainstorm, 1 4 4 work alone, work with a partner, cohere as a team, select, locate and write up research, create scale drawings, present informally and formally, respond to questions, make contributions; they also learned how to organize their time and how to meet timelines. Admittedly, not all students expressed or demonstrated their learning in the same ways. However, all students participated and contributed to their team's adventures. One of the most important ingredients within what I describe as a 'culture of inquiry' is that students had opportunities to present their work to a range of audiences. In performative spaces, for example, students had opportunities to perform and transform their ideas while interacting with adults and other students. Without a doubt, across all three projects students were highly motivated to participate in this culminating event. This was a time when students often chose to be in role as scientists and researchers, and at the same time they had the responsibility for making this space work. As teachers, we were bystanders who participated on the fringe observing and listening to students interact with their audience. It was an occasion of immense pride in our students and a realization that this event motivated the entire inquiry and made it possible for students to spread and further evolve their expertise. 145 Possibilities for Science Education What could school science be? How might science in schools become creative and transformative? What if teachers begin by seeking to create dynamic spaces of inquiry for student expertise to unfold, instead of beginning with previous perceptions of school science and an inanimate curriculum guide? Put another way, what if we had an embodied science curriculum? Science curriculum is alive and with every breath children participate and shape their curriculum in interaction with each other and their teacher. Hear, see, and feel science as adventure. Now that I have written and recorded a few narratives, an ethnography of one school year of science, what do you remember as a reader? As researcher, participant and writer, of these experiences, I remember the voices of children. I remember the energy and spirit and desire with which they pursued these science adventures. I remember what 11 and 12 year old children told me was important about learning science this school year. "It was exciting to learn this way. We didn't have like tests at the end, hut really it was tougher than a test cuz everyday we had to find out something new and he able to explain it." "The whole thing was like a test with no right or wrong answers. We learned along the way." "It's not like you gave us the pieces of the puzzle and said now make it." "We are really doing something." "We actually got to do research." "This was real. It had a purpose." "It was more than science... " 146 I remember what the teacher told me was important about these science adventures. "7 think that number one to me is that they're turned on to science. They love science. I mean that's ...if that was the one goal we had for the year, 1 think we were pretty successful. And, to me, that is the goal ... "What was really refreshing was in this class it really came to the point where they all learned to work with each other no matter who it was." "You know, I think, it was really interesting the comments that some of the kids made about you know, what did you learn from this project? The fact that a lot of the kids didn't write academic things. I mean they were social -social and emotional things. Right? And those are key components of the curriculum. You know, social and emotional development. And that's why I think it was so important." "And we let the project evolve itself. And I think that when you give it a life of its own that really changes things. And I think the kids could see that - that hey, in some ways we are the life of this project - we are determining where it's going." What, then, was so important about these particular science experiences? Educational theorist John Dewey (1938), suggested that "every experience lives on in further experiences." A n d , poet Tennyson put it this way, ... I am part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethro' gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move. 147 Every new experience builds upon previous experiences, and in the context of school, it is critical to ask what makes an experience educative? In his treatise, Experience and education, Dewey (1938),.insists that two main principles may be used for interpreting an experience for educational purposes. He describes continuity and interaction as the "longitudinal and lateral aspects of experience" (p.44). More specifically, Dewey indicates that continuity addresses the growth of educational experiences as they build on one another. A n d , interaction implies that in every educative experience a transaction takes place between the individual and his/her environment that creates meaning and a later capacity for growth. For example, students in this study may draw upon their experiences later in high school science when they learn about related scientific concepts (e.g., ecosystems, hydrogen fuel cells, laws of motion). Similarly, in Rosenblatt's (1978) theory of response to literature, she describes a reciprocal relationship between the reader and the text as transactional. That is, the reader and the text are equally important to the interpretation which occurs at a particular reading event. Under different circumstances, at a different time and place, a different reader will consequently interpret a text differently. In short, both Dewey and Rosenblatt recognize that there is a reciprocal relationship between learner and experience continuously opening up new interpretations and possibilities. Using these principles to appraise students' experiences across three science adventures, their own descriptions indicate that indeed these were educative experiences. Children pointed out in their interviews that typically school science meant reading the textbook and answering questions. Moreover, in 148 their past school experiences science meant "doing dumb experiments" like "burning sugar on a spoon" or "counting marbles and weighing them." In contrast, children describe this Grade 6/7 year of school science as "real" and "with purpose." As Dewey (1938) reminds us, "the most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning" (p.48). Similarly, Leggo (1996) believes and insists that "schools can provide an environment where students and teachers can be motivated by desire" (p. 240). How does one inspire children with a desire to go on learning? Weaving Learning and Experience I am experience. With each breath. Regardless of context, I am running a course ... Currere is to run. (Pinar & Grumet, 1976) Numerous researchers (Davis, Sumara & Kieren, 1996; Maturana & Varela, 1987; Fels & Meyer, 1997) declare that the connection between action and experience is circular. Maturana and Varela (1987) argue, "all doing is knowing, and all knowing is doing." Similarly, Davis, Sumara and Kieren (1996) state that "knowing is doing is being." Fels and Meyer (1997) take this connective idea of action and experience into a university science education 149 class where they bring together science with drama and storytelling to create a "participatory space" where "experiential ways of knowing" are essential. More specifically, using performative inquiry (Fels, 1995) of physical phenomena, students participate with mind and body in their inquiry. I know because I push the water and I move. That is, we learn as we experience the world with all our senses, as recognized by Varela, Thompson and Rosch's (1991) "embodied action," where cognition depends on the kinds of experience that come from having a body and various sensorimotor capacities. Consequently, it is not possible to separate learning and experience, yet, schools often deny children living experiences and claim to be teaching learning. Or rather, the nature of the experiences often provided with a textbook or directed solely by the teacher are more like the idea of swimming without water. If we then begin by honouring experiences that allow children to enact, express, reveal what they know, by recognizing this as central in learning, the ambition of schools must change. Davis, Sumara, and Kieren (1996) recommend that when students and teachers are seen as part of their context rather than in a context, one begins to see that one or the other does not cause learning. More specifically, students and teachers 'bring forth a world' together as the teacher participates with the students. That is, it is impossible to know what will unfold in the classroom if students are perceived as part of their context, because they help create their context. Varela et. al ( 1991) suggest that "a path exists only in walking." These enactivist perspectives are a departure from constructivist perspectives where the focus is on learners in their environment, as enactivism focuses on students as part of their environment. Co-participation and co-creation emerge as important in this 150 ecological perspective recognizing a dynamic interdependence of learners and their environment. In general, "knowing" is often emphasized at the expense of "doing" in schools. Yet, if we see learning as an emergent property of both knowing and doing, why do we determine one as more important than the other? Remember, I know that I can move the water, but the water also moves me. I am "doing" something when I push the water. Leont'ev (1979), for example, proposes that "our knowledge of the world is mediated by our interaction with it" in his theory of activity. He builds on Vygotsky's research (1978), by distinguishing his "theory of activity" and pointing to the importance of the activity humans engage in to learn. Undoubtedly, the spaces of inquiry the teacher and I created in the classroom provided opportunities for students to engage with one another and with materials as they participated in the activity of science. Therefore, similar attention to participation as "doing" and "knowing" is required in schools if we honour all the senses in learning. Put another way, the. nature of participation opportunities or spaces of inquiry educators create, may enable children to enact, express, reveal what they know. In Spirit of Science Science is a journey into the unknown with all the uncertainties that new ventures entail" (Mary Budd Rowe as cited by Wassermann, S. , 1996, p.290) O n this year-long journey of elementary science the teacher and I began with thinking about the possibilities for children's participation - science as adventure and inquiry. We provided children with opportunities to 1 5 1 participate in the spirit of science as an imaginative endeavour. Moreover, they learned how to organize individuals and resources, structure and manage a task and co-ordinate their undertakings. These are all important dimensions of science. I remember oceanographer McLaughlin describing how it takes 2-3 months sometimes just to prepare for a cruise, for example. Upon returning to the British Columbia science curriculum guide criteria for learning science, there is no doubt that the teacher addressed the requirements listed. That is, students met and surpassed the specific criteria under the headings of working scientifically, communicating scientifically, using science, and acting responsibly in the context of science. Yet, it is the extent to which Ross enabled his students to surpass the goals of the science curriculum that I find most interesting and informative. How do you teach someone to enjoy science, for example? How do you inspire a desire for learning? I sense that something much larger transformed these learning experiences for students. In particular, I wonder what motivated a desire for learning in these contextual science experiences? I wonder about the role of drama and the performative across these science adventures. How important was imagination for learning science in the context we created? Baker-Sennett, Matusov and Rogoff (1992), propose that, "sociocultural contexts provide fertile ground for the development of new ideas" (p.112). Certainly, there was something very contextual, something very fertile about learning this way. The text was gone and teaching and learning emerged as improvisational. So, what happens when there is no text to follow? The possibilities of learning this way seem boundless. Indeed, students generated a deluge of ideas in their teams as they learned collaboratively. They were in this together. It was 152 a creative, flexible process of learning, as students adapted and revisioned their plans throughout. Undoubtedly, working together was not always easy, and often there were conflicts within teams. But, on these science adventures all students participated and learned together in teams and as a "community of learners," and they all pulled through. Spaces of Inquiry and Imagination Spaces of inquiry orchestrated by the teacher and myself served only as a boundary to guide these science adventures. Davis (1996), for example, distinguishes prescription as a "charting of a particular path" from proscription as "a scribing not of route but of boundaries" (p.91). Using this idea, the science adventures were not prescriptive, but rather, proscriptive in intent. That is, the focus on our science adventures was not on a predetermined path, but on creating a path together. This improvisational style of learning and teaching attempts to create possibilities for children to direct and develop a desire for learning. In fact, imagination and improvisation played a significant role in our science adventures. In improvisation it is absolutely necessary to respond and contribute to the emerging story, play or musical piece, for example. Serendipity emerges. Educational studies that draw upon improvisation (Baker-Sennett, Matusov, & Rogoff, 1992; Crease, 1997; Sawyer, 1997), emphasize creative and collaborative processes, as well as flexibility in the learning context. Indeed, the premise of each science adventure in this narrative was that we did not know what learning opportunities would unfold. Science as inquiry. Indeed, science is often described as a way of thinking that is imaginative (AAAS, 1990; Comins, 1995; Doris, 1991; Gleick, 153 1987; Sagan, 1996; Wassermann & Ivany, 1996). The spirit of science in this study was imaginative, and hence, also improvisational and collaborative. Emergent curriculum. Emergent expertise. Emergent community. A l l three dimensions unfolded as children and teacher learned along the way drawing upon their imagination. The Unknown This ethnographic study focused on a Grade 6/7 classroom community in an elementary school. It is important to note, however, that spaces of inquiry emerged from the data analysis and primarily represent the experiences of children at school. Several parents, for example, indicated to the teacher that the Biosphere 3, Vehicle Visions and Amusement Park became regular topics at their dinner tables as children expressed an increasing interest in science. It is unknown in what ways each child's home community played a co-teaching role throughout these projects, and this dimension merits future research attention. Similarly, conversations on the internet and with other specialists outside the classroom community contributed to children's learning, and very little is known about these learning opportunities. Undoubtedly, this ethnographic study is but a beginning exploration about the possibilities of elementary science education, and, about the emergence of a culture of inquiry at school. Curriculum theorist, teacher educator and father, David Jardine (seminar presentation at U B C , December 16, 1996) suggests that often school experiences are not memorable for children; but rather, they are memorizable. Instead, he proposes that "we need experiences in classrooms that we can remember." Jardine reminds us that as educators we have a 154 choice about how children will remember school. As educators we can provide opportunities for children to participate in mind and body. As a researcher and participant on this year-long learning adventure, I began to listen with an ear to the ground (Davis, 1996) to children and their teacher. I believe it is essential to listen more carefully to the participants in this endeavour called school. I wonder, what do some children remember? 155 A Conversation with Two Students Fieldnotes - Wednesday Tune 12, 1996 It was a beautiful sunny day and we (pairs of students and I) climbed up on one of the wooden play gyms and leaned against the rails. When I asked them if it was OK to audio tape they replied "of course" and "we're used to that now." We sat and had a casual conversation about the most recent project first and then about learning science in general. It was a comfortable relaxed atmosphere in which to interview students. I interviewed some students in pairs and others individually on this particular day. I had not intended to interview students at this point, but since I had time and tape and students were willing, I did. After listening to students talk about their experiences learning science throughout the school year, I realized that I still had a lot to learn. So, I will leave you with students words. Listen to Christa and Renate. Can you hear a desire for learning? Renate: ... yeah, like we're doing this human biology thing right now and its boring because we take it right out of the book and we take notes and then we have a test. But with this science we make models and stuff and I think it's easier to learn things that way. Christa: A n d we get a say in what we do. Renate: A n d we're doing things that I don't think people would normally do like the biosphere. Christa: Most people probably never even heard of a biosphere. Renate: A n d then thinking of vehicles of the future. 156 Andrea: Okay, so you think it was important for you to do something really different? Christa: Yeah, really different. Renate: There wasn't really a right or wrong answer - you just sort of went and you learnt as time passed and you learnt the mistakes that you made and how you could have fixed them and stuff and so you sort of taught yourself while you were being taught. Christa: A n d you got the concept of brainstorming , drawing sketches, plans and working on the model and then drawing final plans - we learned scale drawing model building, and how to work in groups, and like individual systems you need, and how people would survive in contained environment for a certain period of time. A n d then, in Vehicle Visions, ... this could even influence our career - like we might go into science and this gives us a head start. Like if we want to be an engineer and we already know what the hybrid system and stuff is. Andrea: Can you talk a bit more about how you said you learned brainstorming and sketching and getting your ideas and figure it out? How did you learn that because Ross and I didn't actually go through that with you so, ... Renate: Little by little you learn what you have to do - obviously you have to do brainstorming or you won't get anywhere. Usually when you guys start us with a sort of like a little prep talk and then it's really easy to get ideas and stuff -1 mean just saying fairground - just boom you start getting images in your head and stuff and ideas of the things you can do. Christa: A n d I really liked presenting it at U B C - that was fun - it gave you a sense that this was an important project. Not just like okay biosphere is done, in the garbage. 157 Renate: It made it real. Christa: It made it really real - like we have like a purpose. We're not just doing this for us we're doing it for other people too like you and your Ph.D. or whatever you're doing. It was kinda neat how you went and gave those talks about us in New York and we got the postcard. Renate: It was neat because it makes you feel like the project that you're doing is worthwhile like some of the projects you make you do it and then it's done and over. But to present it and stuff makes it feel like you're really doing something and people want to see it. Andrea: If you had a message to teachers about learning science, what would that be? Renate: To keep it sort of hands-on and simple because I think at first all of the projects started off to be something quite simple. I mean the Biosphere 3, that wasn't too complicated. We built a dome to live inside. Well, it's sort of complicated I mean. A n d then as the kids get into it and really want to discover more things then it becomes complicated and they get little things and little details like different kinds of fish and we had banty chickens. Andrea: Okay, I think I see what you mean - initially it was more general and then as you learned more it got more technical and ... Christa: Start with a simple idea and let it grow. Like plant the seed and let it grow and then it branches out into different subjects like the rainforest, the desert, the people, the oxygen, the systems ... Renate: A n d then it gets into really little things like what kind of fish and what kind of chicken and what kind of ... Christa: What are the people's names? Renate: Because kids make it almost like their world ... 158 Autobiographical Notes: Fish Stories and a River This is a description of an experience I had on the Wheaton River in the Yukon Territories, Canada. It reminds me of the interconnections between learning and experience. / enact what I know. If you know how to cross draw, draw and lean down river we won't tip, my friend assured me. She smiled as she told me that I would learn how to read water that day. M y instructions were to respond to her commands swiftly and to yell R O C K when I saw one. Clothed in neoprene and lifa gear, and with our supernerd helmets on we smiled for one last picture before packing the camera in the waterproof bag. The Wheaton River was an incredibly clear emerald rushing between two mountain chains and there was nobody in sight. As I put my paddle across the gunnel and positioned myself with my knees pressed tightly against the edge of the M a d River my friend assured me that this canoe was one of the best, most specifically for shooting rapids. I was a lake paddler. The first time we put the boat in, it almost got away from us. M y friend pulled the canoe on shore and picked up a small stick. She tossed it into the water and asked me to watch the path it would take. Our Mad River would take a similar path and it would happen just as quickly. Then she drew a small map on the ground pointing out the various currents in the river and just what our first two moves would be as soon as we were both in the boat. It would happen very quickly. We were going backwards down the first rapid when she yelled CROSS D R A W . I switched my hands on the paddle and we promptly crashed into a small island of rocks in the middle of the river. M y heart was easily rushing as fast as the Wheaton as I awaited rebuke for my slow reaction. But my friend calmly suggested that we get out of the boat for a moment. She explained that this M a d River canoe was practically untippable and demonstrated by rolling it from gunnel to gunnel. Then she demonstrated a powerful draw and suggested I try tipping the Mad River and doing a draw. I got in and rocked it like crazy but it did not tip. Then I tried to pull the boat to the paddle on my draw instead of bringing the paddle to the boat, and I 159 noticed the difference. We got back into the untippable M a d River in a calm eddy on the Wheaton. Reassured that we could not possibly tip unless I did not lean downstream, I responded as quickly as I could to CROSS D R A W ; D R A W ; B A C K P A D D L E ; P A D D L E H A R D , and tried not to notice how quickly we were going or if we were going backwards or forwards. There were rocks everywhere and so I never yelled R O C K . As I got into the flow, I began to look at the water differently, trying to read the language of the Wheaton by paying attention to the direction and speed of the flow, the number of blockages and the amount of white water. I still had no idea how my friend, who was seated behind me was navigating us down the Wheaton River. Usually the person in front makes all the decisions. I was in the front. Al l I knew was that this was a 2+ graded river and my heart was racing, but by the time she said we were going to ferry across and head for that eddy to take a break, I had some sense of what would happen next. This experience became my metaphor for the science curriculum. The continuous flow of the river is surrounded by science. It is essential to react to and interact with the river. The river is never the same. Water flows continuously. The seasons change. You change. Each trip down the river is different. The science teacher needs to know the material well to go down the river, but s/he can not predetermine the river's moves because each moment is different. Just as one can not predict the weather, one can not predict the waters. Still, one develops an expertise on the river which allows questions to emerge as one develops a sense of trust together. Traditionally the river of science has been navigated with a textbook, denying the experience of the flow and claiming to know the river. The river, however, like science, is alive and ever-changing. Who can claim that they know the river? 160 I began to reflect upon my science experiences as a student and as a teacher. M y last memory is of a science project I did with my friend Melanie in Grade 7. We could choose to do the project alone or with a partner and we could choose the topic. I had an idea for a topic and Melanie was interested, but she told me that her M o m would literally freak out, so I kept them in our refrigerator wrapped in several layers of plastic bags and taped around a few times. The day finally came when all was quiet at Melanie's house so I brought the package from the refrigerator and the library books. We had collected some smaller bottles and had a larger bottle containing the solution we would need. Carefully we worked together constantly referencing with the diagrams in the book. It was incredible. This tiny system had so many different parts inside and we were learning about their connections. They were my baby rabbits that I had found dead in the cage and now we were learning about how they might have lived. Melanie and I wanted to be doctors when we grew up and this was an exploration that confirmed our fascination for life. We built a small stand for our bottles and labeled all the parts that we put in the solution. Accompanied by an accordion pull out information display we proudly handed in our project. I remember our teacher saying that this was a university level project. We just knew that we had learned something fascinating together. This was the last time I remember being in the river in my experiences as a student of science. Grade 11 physics was a nightmare larger than life. I still wanted to be a doctor, and I knew I needed to take all the sciences, but... I followed the instructions for the labs with my partner and did the calculations and wrote down the purpose, observations, hypothesis and conclusions, but I didn't understand. I remember daring to raise my hand and at the risk of being perceived as stupid 1 6 1 asking the physics teacher what it meant. He assured me that I had done the procedure correctly and seemed to have the right answer, so I shouldn't worry so much. Besides he reassured me that I was getting good marks. This confusion inside continued into university where I studied anatomy, physiology and biomechanics as part of my program. The multiple choice tests and my final grades indicated that I was doing well, but I still did not have a sense that I really had developed an understanding in science. Now I realize that after Grade 7 I had no longer been in the river. I wonder what the purpose is in a system that rewards people with high grades for a science they do not understand, and with which they have no relation. What happened to those people who knew that they did not understand? Moreover, what about those people who think that they do understand solely on the basis of marks and are now teaching our children to make the same assumption? It was in my third year of teaching that I confronted the curriculum that separates achievement from understanding. Ironically, when I worked with my "language class" that year, a nearby river played a vital role in the teaching and learning that I did. It was my job to teach these eight children to read and write. Aged 7-9, they were already a few years behind their peers. As they stared at me with their inquisitive eyes I was frozen for a moment. It was a beautiful sunny day out and I knew the river was close. "Let's go down to the river and have a look around." I didn't really know what I was doing yet, but I knew that these four walls had already failed them so I had nothing to lose. We crossed the street and followed the short dirt trail to an opening. A new world was before us. Chong found a snake, Eleanor found a tree to climb, and another child found an egg. We watched the salmon jumping the falls and a fisherman catching a brown trout. The children made fishing rods 162 with sticks and discarded fishing line, and we paddled in the cool river. When we returned to the classroom we carefully placed our finds on a table and decided that this would be a place for things that we brought back from the river. We hatched ducklings and imprinted with them in our classroom. A curriculum was beginning to emerge and over the next few months I took these children out into that world and allowed their interests and the enticement of the river to direct the flow of curriculum. The text was the world and I used it to find the reading and writing topics for my students. I entered the river of curriculum almost unconsciously. I remember the students drawing trees in class which all looked like Christmas trees. "Look outside. What do you see when you look outside our window?" We went back to the river with our drawing pads and pencils where I suggested each student choose a tree and draw it. We talked about the shape and size of the trees; touched their bark; collected their leaves. This was but the beginning of our study of trees. I wanted them to learn to observe what they saw. I wanted them to draw their tree instead of some abstract tree. I encouraged the children to find things that interested them and used the world of science to teach writing and reading. I read them books like D N A is here to stay (Balkwill and Rolph; 1992) and The Great Kapok Tree (Cherry; 1990). Later, students wrote fish stories and if asked to justify why we spent so much time at the river, I could say we were learning about the stories of the fish swimming up the river to spawn. Only in writing this paper do I realize that the current and flow of the river was in everything that I did with the 163 children. In paying attention to the river (which is a science) the world became our curriculum. 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