The Educational Review, USA

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Contraptions and STEM education: a Brazilian case study

Pedro Z. Caldeira *, Ana Paula Bossler

Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro.

*Corresponding author: Pedro Z. Caldeira, Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro.

Published: December 30,2019


In a Media & Education course of Mathematics and Natural Sciences graduations two teams of four students had to develop from scratch a contraptionwith at least 10 steps that embodied different types of knowledge from at least two natural sciences (for instance, Chemistry and Physics) in several steps and included one scientific experiment. Students also needed to explain to their colleagues of the other team the content knowledge embodied in their machine and the experimental results they obtained with the machine. One team developed a 10-step contraption that included knowledge from Chemistry and Physics and that ended with a Chemical experiment (a glass fell on a candle in the middle of a dish full of water; when the candle was extinguished the oxygen was substituted by water). At first the students of this team could not fully explain the experimental result: they mentioned air pressure differences but did not explain why pressure is involved. The other team developed a 11-step contraption that included only knowledge from Physics, and as its ninth step showed a Physics experiment (the energy needed to overcome the resistance of gravity). The students failed to recognize the experiment.Using the variation theory of learning principles, the professor asked students for scientific full explanations that three days after they needed to give to their classmates. The experiment explanationswere given very satisfactorily.


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How to cite this paper

Contraptions and STEM education: a Brazilian case study

How to cite this paper: Caldeira, P. Z., Bossler, A. P. (2019). Contraptions and STEM education: a Brazilian case study. The Educational Review, USA, 3(12), 235-240.