Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 2407–2430 | Cite as

Exploring the Complexities of Children’s Inquiries in Science: Knowledge Production Through Participatory Practices

  • Christina SiryEmail author


Beginning with the assumption that young children are capable of producing unprecedented knowledges about science phenomena, this paper explores the complexities of children’s inquiries within open-ended investigations. I ask two central questions: (1) how can we (teachers, researchers, and children themselves) use and build upon children’s explorations in science in practice? and (2) what pedagogical approaches can position children as experts on their experiences to facilitate children’s sense of ownership in the process of learning science? Six vignettes from a Kindergarten classroom are analyzed to elaborate the central claim of this work, which is that when children are engaged in collaborative open-ended activities, science emerges from their interactions. Open-ended structures allowed for teachers and children to facilitate further investigations collaboratively, and participatory structures mediated children’s representations and explanations of their investigations. Evidence of children’s interactions is used to illustrate the complexities of children’s explorations, and pedagogical approaches that create the spaces for children to create knowledge are highlighted.


Early childhood science Participatory practices Emergent science Children’s perspectives Kindergarten science 



This manuscript was begun through a Writing Week at the University of Luxembourg’s Language, Culture, Media, and Identities research unit. During this week, all participants were able to focus on preparing a manuscript, and engage in feedback with other Writing Week participants. I am grateful to the organizers for the impetus and motivation, and also the administrators who supported the project by removing all meetings and other duties from the week. I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their useful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Language, Literature, Arts, Humanities, and Educational SciencesThe University of LuxembourgWalferdangeLuxembourg

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