Original Research

How Grade R pupils make sense of the ‘scientist’ and ‘science’

Umesh Dewnarain Ramnarain
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 2 | a90 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i2.90 | © 2011 Umesh Dewnarain Ramnarain | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Umesh Dewnarain Ramnarain, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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In this article we report on the ‘sense-making’ by children of a ‘scientist’ and ‘science’. We investigated these conceptions through drawings by using the Draw-a-Scientist Test (DAST) developed by Chambers. We conducted the research in two urban schools; a public school located in a low-income previously designated black (African) suburb, and a private school in an affluent suburb. In theorising on the sense making
of a ‘scientist’ and ‘science’ by children from these diverse learning contexts, we examined the notion of ‘semiotic mediation’, which is a central idea in Vygotsky’s work. The results of the study show that children in the previously designated black school have little or no conception of science or a scientist. The significance of these findings needs to be considered against the inequities in education, and in particular in science education in this country due to the apartheid system. Despite Grade R being the first year in the twelve-school career of children we believe that the findings of this study do signal that concerted steps need to be taken so that children develop
stronger conceptions of science and a scientist.


semiotic mediation, sense making, draw-a-scientist test, conception of


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