Geospatial in science

Teachers found that the app required students to link the ‘here and now’ – the starting point for geospatial thinking – to other places. The app was very effective at making visible, students’ lack of inclination to think more widely ‘outside’ the UK, in terms of location, space and time.

Student: ‘Why would the UK not be on the tagging options?’

Teacher: ‘Any idea why?’

Student: ‘Because the phone was made here?’

Teacher: ‘No. Have a think about where you were [in the glasshouse] at the time you took those pictures’

Often students’ everyday understanding needs to be disrupted or requires novel ways to facilitate their thinking about scientific ideas. Here the teacher is making explicit the relevance of location of the world that the particular glasshouse represents, and its relationship with the UK. In this way the app productively disrupted students everyday conceptions of the here and now. It is this exposure that enables teachers to intervene and rebuild, reform, or make students geospatial concepts more clearly understood in the context of their science learning.

Teachers also felt that taking a geospatial approach can highlight ideas that students may not otherwise have come across in their everyday lives or traditional science-based learning activities, and begin to think about scientific concepts in different ways.

‘Geospatial captures the imagination and allows children to think’

‘Geospatial enables location to become key and be plotted on a map’

‘You collect data and the interesting bit appears when you ask: now what can we do with it?’

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