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Effect of the Challenger experience on elementary children's attitudes to science

By Tina Jarvis and Anthony Pell

Abstract

This research explored how the Challenger experience influenced over 655 elementary boys' and girls' general attitudes to science and space during the 5 months after their visit by examining their responses to four different attitude scales. These were administered to the 10- to 11-year-olds immediately before and after the Challenger experience as well as 2 and 5 months later. Knowledge tests were also administered before and after the visit. A sample of children completed an existing measure of anxiety. Although there were mainly positive outcomes immediately after the Challenger experience, there were some negative effects. There were also noticeable differences between boys and girls. Some 24% of pupils were inspired to become scientists. There was also less fear of space travel with a greater appreciation of the use of science to protect the planet after the visit. Most girls improved and maintained their attitudes toward science in society. A sizeable number of pupils were relatively unaffected by the experience and there was a significant negative effect on a small group of anxious girls. There are indications that previsit preparation and careful choice of roles during the simulation are important

Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1002/tea.10055
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/1040
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