Beyond Playing with Balls and Magnets: Understanding and Extending the Physics for Young Children


Young children are scientists, and yet we do relatively little to foster this in our classrooms. Particularly in the area of physics, early childhood teachers are sometimes hesitant to provide activities and experiences in areas in which they may not feel comfortable or capable. While we provide opportunities for children to explore and experiment, what are we hoping they will learn? What are the scientific concepts underlying their exploration and play, and what are they capable of constructing?  

Using the examples of playing with magnets and exploring the movement of objects, we will talk about what children can learn about science – both science content and processes – as well as what concepts are not clearly understood by teachers, and/or are beyond children's comprehension. What is it that early childhood teachers need to know about the science processes and the science content behind the physics activities that children engage in? How do teachers apply these ideas to their practice?

Date: 15 & 22 August 2020 (Saturday)



Christine Chaillé is Professor Emeritus after serving in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University since 1991, focusing on early childhood education. Her doctorate is from UCLA. She studied with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva and is the author of 'Constructivism Across the Early Childhood Curriculum: Big Ideas as Inspiration', and co-author of 'The Young Child as Scientist: A Constructivist Approach to Early Childhood Science Education' and 'Integrating Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms Through Big Ideas: A Constructivist Approach.' Her publications primarily centre on the importance of children's play and constructivism. She currently works with schools in Peru and Prague, in addition to consulting across the US. She continues to work as a pedagogical consultant to the Helen Gordon Child Development Center at Portland State University.

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