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Taking on the heat: A narrative account of how infrared cameras invite instant inquiry
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. Linkoping Univ, Dept Social & Welf Studies, S-60174 Norrkoping, Sweden. (Physics Didactics)
Linkoping Univ, Dept Social & Welf Studies, S-60174 Norrkoping, Sweden.
Linkoping Univ, Dept Sci & Technol, S-60174 Norrkoping, Sweden.
2016 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 46, no 5, 685-713 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Integration of technology, social learning, and scientific models offers pedagogical opportunities for science education. A particularly interesting area is thermal science, where pupils often struggle with abstract concepts, such as heat. In taking on this conceptual obstacle, we explore how hand-held infrared (IR) visualization technology can strengthen pupils’ understanding of thermal phenomena. Grounded in the Swedish physics curriculum and part of a broader research programme on educational uses of IR cameras, we have developed laboratory exercises around a thermal storyline, in conjunction with the teaching of a heat-flow model. We report on a narrative analysis of how a group of five fourth graders, facilitated by a researcher, predict, observe and explain (POE) how the temperatures change when they pour hot water into a ceramic coffee mug and a thin plastic cup. Four chronological episodes are described and analysed as group interaction unfolded. Results revealed that the pupils engaged cognitively and emotionally with the POE task, and in particular, held a sustained focus on making observations and offering explanations for the scenarios. A compelling finding was the group’s spontaneous generation of multiple “what-ifs” in relation to thermal phenomena, such as blowing on the water surface, or submerging a pencil into the hot water. This was followed by immediate interrogation with the IR camera; a learning event we label instant inquiry. The pupils’ expressions largely reflected adoption of the heat-flow model. In conclusion, IR cameras could serve as an access point for even very young pupils to develop complex thermal concepts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 46, no 5, 685-713 p.
Keyword [en]
Infrared cameras; primary school; heat; temperature; predict-observe-explain; instant inquiry
National Category
Didactics Physical Sciences
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-282897DOI: 10.1007/s11165-015-9476-8ISI: 000382910600004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-282897DiVA: diva2:917755
Available from: 2016-04-07 Created: 2016-04-07 Last updated: 2016-10-18Bibliographically approved

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