History of Science can provide not only good ideas for museums and science centres, but also can throw light on educational research. Some sort of problems scientists faced in the past can be similar to those students find today when they are introduced to the subject. The work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is considered a landmark for the modern understanding of biological evolution. However, there was a great deal of controversies about geology in the century before, regarding the meaning of geological evidence in some parts of the world, which had extraordinary well preserved fossils (they are considered Konservat-Lagerstätten, literally “place of storage”). We present results of a historical reappraisal of the elaboration process of geological theories, showing that the conception of geological time, contrary to what is generally admitted in the educational community, had deep roots in the ground Charles Darwin was planting with his first thoughts on natural selection. We also present a summary of interviews carried out with children who live near science museums located at strategic places, plenty of clear evidence of past environments studied by scientists of the past. Marine fossil remains in mountains had an original interpretation in Italian geology during 18th century, which had been fully incorporated by the geology of Charles Lyell (1797-1875). These places, and their local museums, invite visitors to revise their conceptions about the history of earth. We conducted 39 interviews in five localities, both in Brazil and Italy, with young students, in order to understand their views on geological time. Results show that the interpretation of evidence follows different ways, as young students give several meanings to the extraordinary fossil remains they find every day, in the environment and in museums. In addition, elements from History of Science suggest the need for a revision of the historical framework in which evolutionary theories are commonly seen in educational settings, including schools, museums and science centres. Furthermore, results urge educators to pay more attention to scholar scientific definitions offered to students, which can give rise to unnoticed complex intellectual ecologies in the school context.

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Biological evolution, science museums and children
Basic research on history and cognition

Nelio Bizzo   University of São Paulo – Brazil

History of Science can provide not only good ideas for museums and science centres, but also can throw light on educational research. Some sort of problems scientists faced in the past can be similar to those students find today when they are introduced to the subject. The work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is considered a landmark for the modern understanding of biological evolution. However, there was a great deal of controversies about geology in the century before, regarding the meaning of geological evidence in some parts of the world, which had extraordinary well preserved fossils (they are considered Konservat-Lagerstätten, literally “place of storage”). We present results of a historical reappraisal of the elaboration process of geological theories, showing that the conception of geological time, contrary to what is generally admitted in the educational community, had deep roots in the ground Charles Darwin was planting with his first thoughts on natural selection. We also present a summary of interviews carried out with children who live near science museums located at strategic places, plenty of clear evidence of past environments studied by scientists of the past. Marine fossil remains in mountains had an original interpretation in Italian geology during 18th century, which had been fully incorporated by the geology of Charles Lyell (1797-1875). These places, and their local museums, invite visitors to revise their conceptions about the history of earth. We conducted 39 interviews in five localities, both in Brazil and Italy, with young students, in order to understand their views on geological time. Results show that the interpretation of evidence follows different ways, as young students give several meanings to the extraordinary fossil remains they find every day, in the environment and in museums. In addition, elements from History of Science suggest the need for a revision of the historical framework in which evolutionary theories are commonly seen in educational settings, including schools, museums and science centres. Furthermore, results urge educators to pay more attention to scholar scientific definitions offered to students, which can give rise to unnoticed complex intellectual ecologies in the school context.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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