Could strengthening the skills of proportional calculus improve astronomy learning in children?
Evidence from an intervention in the 5th grade based on a theoretical proposal
Keywords:Astronomy, conceptual integration theory, elementary school
Students have numerous difficulties operating with astronomical sizes and distances. This work presents the results of a didactic intervention framed in the Conceptual Integration Theory (CIT) and the cognitive strategy of “mental anchors” in the context of astronomy teaching in elementary school. It consisted of the implementation of several activities to promote the understanding, identification and production of scale representations based on an in-depth work on the proportional reasoning process, perspective and the choice of reference systems under the hypothesis that strengthening these skills could improve the learning of astronomy. To evaluate its effectiveness, results were compared within three groups of 10 and 11 years-old students (N=54) subjected to the intervention and one control group (N=20). Based on the results, the intervention was successful: the students improved greatly their ability to recognize and produce scale representations regarding astronomical scales and strengthened the concept of perspective and its relation to the perception of the size of objects in terms of size and distance.