This chapter explores how young children's science identity can be enhanced when thoughtful pedagogy is provided by the educator. The first part of this chapter presents the definitions of science identity and pedagogy, followed by an exploration of the relationship between educator beliefs and what they teach. The second half of the chapter presents two case studies to illustrate pedagogical practices associated with learning and teaching of science with young children, using play as a medium. These two case studies are interpreted using the five learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) to highlight young children's developing science identity.
At the end of this chapter you will be able to:
■ describe science identity
■ describe pedagogy in terms of relationships and learning
■ describe the relationship between beliefs and pedagogy
■ relate young children's science experiences to the five learning outcomes specified in the Early Years Learning Framework to describe their developing science identity
■ describe various pedagogical principles that enhance the science identity of young children.
Science identity in young children
Children build a strong sense of identity when positive experiences help them understand their contribution is significant and respected by others (DEEWR, 2009). Science identity refers to how children perceive whether they can do science and be successful at science, and how others perceive them at being able to do science (Fenichel & Schweingruber, 2010). Developing a science identity can be influenced by opportunity, social interactions with others and interacting with science resources. Recognition of belonging to a science community can also enhance science identity (Fenichel & Schweingruber, 2010). This sense of belonging to a science community comes from reflecting on past science events, engaging in current science activities, or imagining future science scenarios (Fenichel & Schweingruber, 2010). Further, educators play an important role in science participation and learning when they influence young children through opportunity, interests, habits and modelled scientific thinking to develop dispositions that reflect a science identity.
Broadly speaking, pedagogy is knowing what to teach and how to teach. Therefore, an educator's pedagogy guides teaching practice and children's learning. The EYLF describes pedagogy as ‘early childhood educators’ professional practice, especially those aspects that involve building and nurturing relationships, curriculum decision making, teaching and learning’ (DEEWR, 2009, p. 9).