Doing Science at School

Chris Macrander presented his work exploring tensions between planning and guiding student activity, and allowing students authority over scientific reasoning at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, June 6-8 in Chicago, Illinois.


Recent work in science education has focused on the extent to which students are authentically engaged in disciplinary practices in the classroom, versus playing "the classroom game," (Lemke, 1990). We present data from a 10-hour science workshop with middle-school age participants in which we document the dynamics of participants' framing, a sense of "what is going on here" (MacLachlan & Reid, 1994; Tannen, 1993; Goffman, 1986). We argue that the learners and facilitators negotiatied and maintained a framing which was neither purely disciplinary nor "the classroom game", but instead was a productive hybrid. We present evidence that learners understood facilitators to be social authorities throughout the workshop, allowing them to define discussion topics, tasks, and objectives, while at the same time learners controlled key disciplinary practices such as developing coherent, mechanistic accounts of a physical phenomenon.


Macrander, C., Wilkerson-Jerde, M. & Gravel, B. (2013). Nested framings and the pursuit of authentic scientific inquiry. Presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Chicago, IL. June 6-8.

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SiMSAM explores middle school learners' scientific modeling practices as they work across Simulation, Animation, and Measurement / Data Analysis tools.

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