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Modern materials in science and technology school subject – hydrogels

Veronika Škerbec (2017) Modern materials in science and technology school subject – hydrogels. MSc thesis.

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    Rapid advancement of science in recent decades has made keeping track of the progress increasingly difficult. Current topics are being presented to pupils in school, so it would be sensible for them to be exposed to current scientific topics as well. For various reasons teachers are not deciding to expose their pupils to these topics, even though it could be facilitated by the flexible curriculum in primary education. Hydrogels are materials that can change their shape according to changes in the environment, e.g. change of pH, temperature, salt concentration etc. Their most significant property is absorption of water. In addition, they can retain water under high pressure. They are utilized in horticulture, ecology, hygienic accessories, medicine and tissue engineering. During primary education pupils do not receive enough information about modern smart materials in science and technical lessons. Teachers shy away from presenting these materials primarily because they lack the knowledge about them, which consequently makes it harder to relay this information to the pupils. That is why we have decided to design educational material which could be used to introduce modern materials into the curriculum. After designing the educational material about hydrogels, based on independent experimental work, we planned a study. The research question we set ourselves were: ‒ Have fourth grade pupils heard of hydrogels and, if so, what did they know about hydrogels prior to the lessons? ‒ How, and to what extent, have the pupils learned about hydrogels, their properties and associated phenomena with the help of the educational material about hydrogels? ‒ How can we plan activities with hydrogels to achieve the curriculum objectives in science and technical lessons? For the conducted study we used a descriptive method of pedagogical research, in which qualitative and quantitative approaches intertwined. Eighteen fourth grade pupils of a select urban primary school were involved. Data collection was done with a paper-pencil questionnaire for all participants and semi-structured interviews for selected pupils. Survey results show that pupils were initially unaware of the daily use of hydrogels. Despite the fact that they had no previous knowledge of hydrogels, they mostly answered correctly to questions about hydrogels after the introduction of educational material into their lessons, which were on the lower stage of Bloom’s taxonomy as they based on recollection of knowledge. Pupils enjoyed experimenting and the form of the hydrogels themselves. Activity planning for acquiring knowledge about hydrogels based on experimental work, enable specific experiences which form basic knowledge about hydrogel properties. Pupils were eager to experiment and learn new things about hydrogels. Educational material, based on implementation and observation of experiments, proved to be suitable for fourth grade pupils. Conducted interviews revealed pupils’ desires to do experimental work at home and to share the knowledge with their family. Obtained findings cannot be generalized due to insufficient sample of pupils, but the results provide a basis for further exploration of implementing hydrogels into science courses in primary schools.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: active learning, experiment, hydrogel, subject Natural science and technology
    Number of Pages: 112
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Jerneja PavlinMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=11544393)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 4463
    Date Deposited: 19 May 2017 14:43
    Last Modified: 19 May 2017 14:43
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/4463

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