An investigation into some Key Stage 2 children's learning of foundation concepts associated with geared mechanisms

Richard Bennett
1996, Vol. 1, No. 3,


This paper describes a small scale research project conducted with six Year 6 (11 year old) pupils into the development of their understanding of key concepts associated with geared mechanisms through practical activities with construction kits.

Although the children were able to construct models following instructions and explain the function of the mechanisms, they were unable to apply this knowledge to a problem-solving situation. Timely teacher intervention was required to enable them to progress through the development and application of anchoring conceptions.

This piece of research probes the extent to which the children develop understanding of geared mechanisms with minimal teacher intervention. It examines the forms of language which children develop to explain the phenomena they observe and to put forward their own theories. It speculates on the implications this may have for children's conceptualisation and the organisational strategies teachers might need to employ to maximise learning. Findings suggest that the level of involvement in a task and the extent of a child's concomitant learning may not be readily judged from observable features such as verbal or active participation. ";Engagement"; and interest would appear to be at least as important as ";word work"; or practical activity.

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