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Exploring preschoolers′ conceptions about the viscosity of honey

Academic Editor: Tuba Nur Gide

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  • Fluids′ viscous behavior is apparent in many everyday life situations, for example, in squeezing shampoo from a bottle or spooning honey from a jar. As a result, it is quite reasonable to assume that students develop (pre)conceptions to explain such phenomena even before they enter kindergarten or elementary school. As yet, however, empirical studies on children′s conceptions regarding the viscous behavior of fluids are remarkably scarce. The present study aims to address this research gap on an exploratory level. More precisely, we conducted a qualitative interview study in which we explored the conceptions about the viscous behavior of honey among N = 6 preschool children attending their final year in a kindergarten in Hamburg (Germany). For stimulating the conversation during the interviews, an easily noticeable phenomenon in which the viscous behavior of honey can be observed (dropping two identical spoons into a honey-filled and a water-filled glass) was demonstrated to the participating children. In summary, the analysis of the transcribed interviews revealed three distinguishable conceptions of the children about the viscous behavior of honey: (1) The viscous behavior of honey results from its stickiness, (2) from its additional physical characteristics, and (3) from its use in everyday life. In this Express Letter, we present the design and results of our study in detail. Recommendations for future research in science education are outlined at the end of this paper.

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  • Figure 1.  Setup of the demonstration shown to the children: dropping two identical spoons into a honey-filled glass and a water-filled glass

    Table 1.  Summary of the interviewed children

    Pseudonym Gender Age Interview duration
    Anna 4.5 years 6.4 min
    Eva 5 years 6.2 min
    Frederik 5 years 6.4 min
    Hila 5 years 6.8 min
    Lilia 4 years 6.9 min
    Max 5 years 8.0 min
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