SECOND GRADERS’ MENTAL MODELS AND IMAGES CONCERNING THE CONCEPTS OF EARTH AND SPACE
The purpose of the present study is to determine primary school second graders’ mental models and images concerning the concepts of Earth and Space. This is a case study. Research sample consists of 114 students, 54 of whom are from a public school located in a village and 60 of whom are from a school located in the center of Rize province of Turkey. Three different data collection tools were used for the following dimensions of mental models: content knowledge, structure knowledge, and operational knowledge. Within the scope of the study, the students’ content knowledge was tried to be determined through mind maps, structure knowledge and images through drawings, and operational knowledge through semi-structured interviews. While the mind maps were subjected to descriptive analysis, the drawings and interviews were subjected to content analysis. The same data were separately analyzed by two experts to ensure analysis reliability. According to the findings obtained from the mind maps, the students mostly associated the concept of Earth with celestial bodies (planets, Sun, stars, Moon) and Space. There were also students associating Earth with human beings, plants, cities, buildings, animals, oxygen, sea, life, and soil. The student drawings about the concept of Earth involved three different models: geographical model, environmental model, and astronomic model. There were also many students associating the concept of Space with astronauts, space craft, satellite, and telescope. Such concepts describing Space as black hole, darkness, space, and lack of weight also appeared in the student associations. There were even students mentioning aliens. The student drawings about the concept of Space involved five different models: dark model, astronaut model, star model, celestial bodies model, and aliens model.
Earth and Space, Mental Model, Conceptual Understanding