Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 1735–1750 | Cite as

Spontaneous Play and Imagination in Everyday Science Classroom Practice

  • Maria AndréeEmail author
  • Lotta Lager-Nyqvist


In science education, students sometimes create and engage in spontaneous science-oriented play where ideas about science and scientists are put to use. However, in previous research, little attention has been given to the role of informal spontaneous play in school science classrooms. We argue that, in order to enhance our understanding of learning processes in school science practices, research that investigates play as an aspect of everyday culture is needed. The aim of this paper is to explore students’ informal play as part of activity in lower secondary school science. The empirical study was conducted in two Swedish compulsory schools in grade 6. Data were collected throughout a teaching unit called ‘The Chemistry of Food’ during a 10-week period using video and audiotape recordings of classroom work. Our analyses show that the play students engage in involves the transformations of given tasks. We find that students’ spontaneous collective play offers opportunities for them to explore the epistemic values and norms of science and different ways of positioning in relation to science. Our findings contribute to the understanding of how learning in the school science classroom is socially and culturally–historically embedded and how individual students’ engagement through play may transform and transcend existing classroom practices.


Spontaneous play Imagination Science learning Lower secondary school Classroom practice Vygotsky 



We wish to express our gratitude to Professor Per-Olof Wickman at the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, for conducting the fieldwork together with Lotta Lager-Nyqvist, and giving insightful comments on drafts of this article. The study was part of the project Learning, interactive technologies and the development of narrative knowing and remembering (LINT) which has been supported by grants from The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and The Swedish Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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