Michalis Ioannou, George Kaliampos, Glykeria Fragkiadaki, Panagiotis Pantidos, Konstantinos Ravanis


In the current study, an attempt is made to bring together and synthesize research data on the way early childhood children approach thermal phenomena and concepts. In this pool of data, the mental representations of young children, the barriers to the conceptualization of these phenomena and the effectiveness of specialized teaching interventions are highlighted and discussed. Going through a series of empirical studies the paper focuses on critical aspects of thermal phenomena and concepts such as thermal conductivity in solid and liquid materials, expansion and contraction of metals, thermal insulation, use of a thermometer etc. A considerable part of these studies prominently deals with the changes in the state of materials and in particular water and the water cycle in the natural environment. The literature review presented here provides a detailed overview and a classification of these studies as well as highlights the need to foreground the systemic character of phenomena and the unifying character of the concepts when approaching or researching about thermal phenomena in early childhood educational settings.


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science education, early childhood, mental representations, thermal concepts, thermal phenomena, literature review

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