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Learning Science Through Enacted Astronomy

Abstract : The Human Orrery is a representation of the Solar System at a human scale, on which positions of planets over time are symbolized by different discs. Learners can then walk along the orbits of the planets with the right pace. This pedagogical tool uses the principles of enacted cognition to promote a better understanding of the scientific laws of dynamics. Enaction assumes that cognition is based on action. Applied to pedagogy, it implies that learning of concepts must be based on gestures and perceptions first. I applied during 2 years an enacted pedagogical sequence using our Human Orrery to different populations of learners. The main purpose was the understanding of velocity and inertia by KS4 classes (14–16 years old). Interviews and closed questions reveal a qualitative enhancement of the motivation and well-being of the learners during the enacted sequence. To evaluate further the impact of the enacted sequence, I formulated 2 open questions. The first one concerns the relation between distance, duration, and velocity through the period of planets. The second one focuses on inertia and gravity through the comparison of the free fall of an apple on Earth and the orbit of the Moon around Earth. The questions were asked to KS4 pupils after the enacted sequence (experimental classes) and to KS4, undergraduate and pre-teachers after a classical lecture on dynamics (demonstration classes). Quantitative analysis of the answers reveals specific cognitive insight, especially for students reasoning about velocity and trajectories. The general purpose of this paper is thus to illustrate the use of the Human Orrery in the context of science education in the classroom and to make a first, preliminary demonstration of its efficiency.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 3:58:19 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 9, 2021 - 9:20:03 PM


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E. Rollinde. Learning Science Through Enacted Astronomy. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Springer Verlag, 2019, Int J of Sci and Math Educ, 17, pp.237-252. ⟨10.1007/s10763-017-9865-8⟩. ⟨hal-01662026⟩



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