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Tales of Wonder: A Narrative Inquiry of Elementary Girls’ Science Stories

Julie Valentine Mcgough, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Science experiences in early elementary classrooms have the potential to foster young children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for how the world works. However, many school districts place more emphasis on reading and math leaving little time for science. This narrative inquiry study focused on the stories of three early elementary girls to describe and understand how they engaged in and made sense of science thinking while participating in integrated science experiences in a combined first and second grade classroom. Using Dewey’s (1938) lens of quality experiences, to examine field texts and teacher reflection during this study illuminated both physical and cognitive affordances of this early elementary classroom that enabled these girls to engage daily in the practices of science. In turn, these daily experiences supported the development of sophisticated science thinking. Drawing on the characteristics of this classroom environment and the science experiences of the girls in this study, teacher education programs might look for ways to offer preservice teachers’ opportunities to observe and reflect on children’s science learning experiences. In turn, this could improve science teacher preparation to support high-quality science learning opportunities, including ongoing professional development that supports quality science instruction and positive attitudes about science. Further narrative studies could contribute to the knowledge of how young children think about science concepts and what classroom affordances support their thinking.

Subject Area

Science education|Curriculum development|Elementary education|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Mcgough, Julie Valentine, "Tales of Wonder: A Narrative Inquiry of Elementary Girls’ Science Stories" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI27667403.