Some of the more general notions and ideas about the scientific world are built early in life (through media, school, family) and contribute to children’s attitude toward, for example, actively participating in a world where citizenship means, more and more, also technological and scientific citizenship. Utilizing a new method of illustrated and narrative focus groups (Castelfranchi, 2013), associated with techniques from semiotic analysis and storytelling, the researchers interviewed and documented speeches and collective drawings made by groups of 6-10 children, aged around 8-11 yo, in 5 city schools of Diamantina, Vespasiano and Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brazil). In the context of collective invention of illustrated stories, the children talked about science, the figure of the scientist and its practices. We sought to widen our understanding on public opinion and imaginary with respect to scientists, science and its social role and, in general, to investigate relationships between science, technology and society. Data analysis was based on both text analysis of children’s storytelling and semiotic analysis of their drawings and a comparison were made with analougous experiments made in Italy (Castelfranchi et al, 2008). Relevant results were found: 1. Our subjects are equipped, in general, with less instruments than their Italian peers to represent or describe the figure, activity and practices of science and scientists, and need to resort almost exclusively on the stereotyped images provided by media on the subject; 2. A marked difference between children from affluent social classes, enrolled in private schools, and children from schools in the state, or groups belonging to lower classes, concerning the access to scientific and technological information and its appropriation and elaboration; 3. In both cases, however, the picture narrated by children about science and scientists’ activity is seen as predominantly positive (mostly, the scientists doing “good” and “useful” things, instead of being “mad” or “bad”, for instance) - the positive view about science being prior, and partly decoupled, from access to information and knowledge.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science and scientists in stories narrated by children
An experiment of illustrated and narrative focus groups

Bárbara Magalhães   Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

Thereza Nardelli   Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

Yurij Castelfranchi   Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

Vanessa Sander   Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

Some of the more general notions and ideas about the scientific world are built early in life (through media, school, family) and contribute to children’s attitude toward, for example, actively participating in a world where citizenship means, more and more, also technological and scientific citizenship. Utilizing a new method of illustrated and narrative focus groups (Castelfranchi, 2013), associated with techniques from semiotic analysis and storytelling, the researchers interviewed and documented speeches and collective drawings made by groups of 6-10 children, aged around 8-11 yo, in 5 city schools of Diamantina, Vespasiano and Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brazil). In the context of collective invention of illustrated stories, the children talked about science, the figure of the scientist and its practices. We sought to widen our understanding on public opinion and imaginary with respect to scientists, science and its social role and, in general, to investigate relationships between science, technology and society. Data analysis was based on both text analysis of children’s storytelling and semiotic analysis of their drawings and a comparison were made with analougous experiments made in Italy (Castelfranchi et al, 2008). Relevant results were found: 1. Our subjects are equipped, in general, with less instruments than their Italian peers to represent or describe the figure, activity and practices of science and scientists, and need to resort almost exclusively on the stereotyped images provided by media on the subject; 2. A marked difference between children from affluent social classes, enrolled in private schools, and children from schools in the state, or groups belonging to lower classes, concerning the access to scientific and technological information and its appropriation and elaboration; 3. In both cases, however, the picture narrated by children about science and scientists’ activity is seen as predominantly positive (mostly, the scientists doing “good” and “useful” things, instead of being “mad” or “bad”, for instance) - the positive view about science being prior, and partly decoupled, from access to information and knowledge.

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