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Factors influencing elementary school children's attitudes toward science before, during and following a visit to the UK National Space Centre

By Tina Jarvis and Anthony Pell

Abstract

This article reports on attitude changes of 300 children, aged 10 or 11 years, from four schools, who visited the UK National Space Centre. Attitudes toward science and space were explored by examining responses to five different attitude scales. These were administered before, immediately after, and 2 months and 4–5 months after a visit to the main exhibition area and Challenger Centre. Observations during the visits and interviews of teachers and a sample of children were carried out. Before the visit girls were more anxious than boys. Immediately afterward, children showed more interest in space and a moderate increase in their views about the value of science in society. Nearly 20% of the pupils showed an increased desire to become scientists in the future. These children also showed a positive advantage over the other children with regard to science enthusiasm and space interest. Two months later, they continued to be more positive about being future scientists but only the girls' scores were still significantly raised. Most children found the Challenger experience positive but had more problems with the exhibition area. Teachers' preparation and support during the visit as well as their personal interest had a significant long-term effect on children's attitudes

Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1002/tea.20045
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/1039
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