Sensing Science: Temperature and Heat Readiness for Early Elementary Students

Concord Consortium is exploring K-2 students' understanding of heat and temperature in two Massachusetts school districts using sensors that display temperatures as colors. Exploration activities are being created, and students are being videotaped carrying out the activities. Students complete a short assessment for each activity. The exploration activities, assessments, and project data are available via open source through a website at Concord Consortium and are being presented to multiple professional audiences.

Full Description: 

Concord Consortium is exploring K-2 students' understanding of heat and temperature in two Massachusetts school districts using sensors that display temperatures as colors. The project is investigating the following research questions:

- How can visualizations, data collection linked to everyday experiences, and student reflection integrated into creative exploration address student preconceptions and promote K-2 student understanding of temperature and heat?

- How can the use of replay of video and reflection aid in addressing K-2 student preconceptions and improve student understanding of heat and temperature?

- Can the use of visualizations and data collection via digital sensing technology advance K-2 students past the goals of the K-2 science frameworks?

The project is being implemented in 10 classrooms for about 250 children representing diverse populations. Exploration activities are being created, and students are being videotaped carrying out the activities. Students complete a short assessment for each activity. Project staff will revisit the videos with the students to explore student concepts at a deeper level. David Reider of Education Design Inc. is conducting the evaluation which will focus on 1) program efficacy and design and 2) alignment with research design. It is formative in design with annual summative reports. From their data, the project is constructing a progressive hierarchy of student theories of heat and temperature. The project is also producing a protocol that teachers can use to have better dialogues with children that support children's reconstruction of their initial conceptions. The exploration activities, assessments, and project data are available via open source through a website at Concord Consortium and are being presented to multiple professional audiences.

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