Gravity in the solar system – the role of informal learning

Lelliott, Anthony D. and Rollnick, Marissa and Pendlebury, Shirley (2006) Gravity in the solar system – the role of informal learning. In: 14th Annual SAARMSTE Conference, 9-12 January 2006, University of Pretoria.


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This paper examines what and how grade 7 and 8 South African students learn about the concept of gravity when visiting an astronomy-related science centre. The literature on students’ understanding of gravity identifies a number of misconceptions prevalent, several of which are mirrored in this study. The concept of gravity is illustrated in a number of ways at the two study sites, using exposition, videos and direct experience of its effects. Using interviews with students, and drawing on a human constructivist framework, the paper shows how knowledge about gravity is acquired both incrementally, though subsumption, and more rapidly and substantially, through superordinate learning. Particular emphasis is paid to students’ definitions and understanding of the cause of gravity, as well as their perception of how it operates within the solar system. Methods of demonstrating gravity which result in significant knowledge restructuring are recommended as providing the most substantial learning experience.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Mr Saeed Salimpour
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2018 09:32
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2018 09:32

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