Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - D.7 Inclusive Science Education with and for Society
Friday, 04/June/2021:
5:15pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Luisa Zecca
Session Chair: Gabriel Lemkow
Location: Room 1

Session Panels:
D.7. Inclusive Science Education with and for Society

External Resource:


Matteo Schianchi1, Roberta Garbo2

1Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca, Italia; 2Università degli Studi Milano Bicocca, Italia

Projects for science education for students with disabilities began to develop more fully in the early 1990s. An initial literature review identifies some lines of development already underway and developed since the 1970s: science education is considered useful in developing knowledge for some types of disabilities.

With new conceptual operators coding [Classification of Functioning and Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ], the concept of an inclusive educational dimension is further developed. The literature itself brings up the idea of inclusive science in ordinary classrooms. Inclusive science has become an established and legitimate academic field: thanks to a few academic reviews - Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities -, research centers in Europe, East Asia, and the United States, and some volumes (Mackic, Abels 2016; Koomen, Khan, 2018).

Beginning with a literature review, our contribution intends to focus on an inclusive pedagogical perspective. In order to go beyond the theoretical idea of an inclusive science, specific training of curricular and specialized teachers, collaboration among them and with the whole school context is necessary.

We also believe it is necessary to overcome the conflict between the behaviorist and constructivist perspectives that runs through all the literature in order to build educational practices that can concretely make science a tool for inclusion and emancipation of students with disabilities within the ordinary school context.

The notion of inclusive science education suggests that all students-regardless of achievement or ability-should engage in opportunities to understand the practice and discourse of science. Current teaching practices risk not effectively supporting all students, particularly those with more complex disabilities.

The best results are obtained for high functioning disabilities. Using a single-subject reversal design, for students with autism spectrum disorder, results say that there is an improvement in the ability to comprehend scientific text. A comprehensive review of the literature on teaching science to students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder reports interesting findings but raises the question of further research to explore the effectiveness of interventions capable of building science skills in students with more complex disabilities (Apanasionok, 2019).

The challenge is precisely this. To build, in practice (at school, in living labs) scientific experiments capable of providing tools of knowledge and a wealth of experience and participation even to young students with more complex disabilities. In order to do this, an inclusive pedagogical approach is needed that brings together different figures, professions and approaches (Braun, Abels, 2020).

Apanasionok M., Hastings R.P., Grindle, (2019). Teaching science skills and knowledge to students with developmental disabilities: A systematic review. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 56 (7). pp. 847-880.

Brauns S., Abels S. (2020). The Framework for Inclusive Science Education. Inclusive science education, Working Paper, n. 1/2020, Leuphana University Luneburg

Koomen M., Kahn S., Atchison C.L., (Eds.) (2018), Towards Inclusion of All Learners through Science Teacher Education, Brill Academic Publishers, Leida.

Markic S., Abels S. (Eds.) (2016). Science Education towards Inclusion. Science Education towards Inclusion, Nova Science Publishers, New York.


Annick Biesmans, Inge Laenen, Bram Malisse, Marleen Rosiers

Erasmus Brussels University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Belgium

In science education a role, let alone a central one, is rarely given to arts and culture. Usually science education focusses on the transfer of knowledge and facts (DeJarnette, 2018). Seldom or never the link between wonder or imagination and STEM education is made. For the EBUASA team art is at the heart of ‘playful science education’. It serves as an instigator of play and an impetus for further exploration and research. Art offers cross-language possibilities for communication and understanding, insight and knowledge acquisition (Meeuwis, 2014). Hence the team chooses the artful approach in working with students in the teacher training program for pre-school teachers in the super divers and societal complex and layered city of Brussels.
Even though art and the artful approach cannot rectify conditions of poverty or enhance social justice , it breaks cultural, social and economic barriers. Every human being can relate to art because every human being can relate to emotions and personal experiences.
The teacher training program encourages students to do research and to realize an ‘artful steam approach’. In a joint search for the design and realization of ‘play oriented pursuit of curriculum goals’ or a ‘curriculum goal oriented pursuit of play’ , the team and students embark on a journey of discovery, surprise and wonder. Students are provoked by carefully selected materials, placed in advised learning spaces, and artful impulses, to experiment, play and research phenomena. For the gathering of materials the team turns to readily available and accessible materials for all. The research actions students undertake then are documented and used as a source of memory and reflection (Malavasi & Zoccatelli, 2013). The reflective dialogue following the artful approach is of the utmost importance and is crucial as a catalyst for a more Stem directed science education approach after. Due to the interdisciplinarity of the team, focus on topics as quality of play, the importance of the design of the learning space and the evolution of play are guaranteed.
Subsequently students take these ‘self experiences’ (Lemkow Tovias, 2021), the investigative approach and lessons learned to their place of internship and apply this method of designing ‘playful artful science areas’ and ‘Steamitude’ to their activities. The same working method is applied when using ‘the box to the streets’. In provocation and dialogue with the materials, selected for the box, students are emerged in the research process and take their findings to the neighbourhood and families. Through working with children (from migrant backgrounds), the team reaches mothers and women especially.
When students take the C4S-box to the streets, families from the neighbourhood can take part in playful science activities and observe students mediate exploration, experimentation and discovery in a low-tech environment (Iliás, 2019). These families and class groups will be invited to the Experimental Play Area and discover fun ways of interacting with every day materials in a playful and scientific way. In working in these manners, we count on a multiplier effect in a formal and non-formal pedagogical setting (Vandenbroeck, 2020).


Antonella Pezzotti, Petar Vasilev Lefterov

Bambini Bicocca, spin off dell’Università di Milano-Bicocca, Italia

Very young children are deeply interested in the livings and ready to establish a relationship with them. This issue is still relatively scarcely addressed in ECEC if compared with other scientific themes. Research on older children indicate that individuals who have been exposed to experiences with the livings are more sensitive and show greater responsibility towards the environment (Ghafouri, 2012; Taylor et al., 2006).

Significant experiences in early years exploring the world around are an important basis to build a positive, research attitude Regular contact and systematic exploration of the living things outdoor and indoor are a very special path to promote in every young child the habit to observe, explore, identify with and feel responsibility of the natural environment. Indeed, children’s scientific skills, attitudes, understandings and language are promoted through investigations, observations, values socio-cultural aspects of learning, integrates students’ prior experiences, and focuses on place-based experiences with natural phenomena (Eshach, Fried,2005).

The contact with the livings can generate intensive emotions and is a powerful drive for all young children including children with special needs and disabilities to develop a research/scientific attitude (Trundle, K. C., 2015). Sensorial experience through sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, is a way to develop curiosity, inquiry, reflexivity, to formulate hypotheses, discuss with others and solve problems. Outdoor and indoor, in a “scientific atelier” equipped with technologies that can help children to observe and study in greater detail what had been first observed in the natural outdoor environment (Maynard, Waters, 2007). The livings can be explored at first spontaneously, then systematically if an experienced adult – a scientific mentor - steers children through specific and open projects, based on an accurate observation of their potentialities and of the opportunities offered by the school context and by appropriate technological instruments.

The presentation will discuss and illustrate, through documentation, the sense and value of this approach in ECEC in general and especially when children with disabilities or special needs are included in the group, by illustrating projects and cases in the Scuola dell’Infanzia Bambini Bicocca.

Eshach H. e Fried M.N. (2005), Should Science be Taught in Early Childhood? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 14(3), 315-336.

Ghafouri, F. (2012). In search of understanding children's engagement with nature and their learning experiences in one urban kindergarten classroom. University of Toronto (Canada).

Maynard T., Waters J. (2007), Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity? In Early Years. An International Research Journal, 27(3).

Taylor A.F., Kuo F.E., & Blades, M. (2006), Is contact with nature important for healthy child development: State of evidence. In C. Spencer, M. Blades (Eds.), Children and their environments: learning, using and designing spaces, pp.124-158. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Trundle, K. C. (2015). The inclusion of science in early childhood classrooms. In Research in early childhood science education (pp. 1-6). Springer, Dordrecht.


Valeria Cotza, Monica Roncen

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

The paper analyses 7 educational robotics workshops carried out by the University of Milano-Bicocca from February to April 2021 at the “Antonia Vita” Popular School in Monza, as part of the Horizon C4S Project. These activities have been conducted with Coderbot with a maximum of 7 students aged between 13 and 16 from socio-culturally disadvantaged environments, some with learning disorders and difficulties.

This research fits into the theoretical framework of Educational Robotic Applications (ERA), mainly focusing on five principles that have been identified as significant within our context: embodiment, engagement, sustainable learning, personalisation, and equity (Catlin, Blamires, 2010). Specifically, the aim is to analyse in-depth didactic mediation strategies (Rossi, 2016) in school environments that are characterised by socio-linguistic deprivation (Lumbelli, 1992), especially regarding the direction assumed by one or more expert adults (Bozzi, Zecca, 2021; Lumbelli, 1974). This is a field still little explored with respect to this specific age group, and in particular to those adolescents using the so-called “restricted code” (Bernstein, 1971).

The workshops have been conducted according to 5 phases: 1) engagement, with the aim of gathering students’ representations on the concepts of “science” and “robots”; 2) Game of Science (GoS) with a robo-ethological approach (Datteri, Zecca, 2016), to let students express free scientific observations and explanations and investigate interactions between adults, students and robots; 3) algomotricity or body simulation, i.e. the unplugged phase which precedes coding (Lonati et al., 2015); 4) training of 2 student-tutors on some functionalities of the robot; and 5) peer tutoring with a PBL approach.

All activities have been video-recorded and partially transcribed; the research team is achieving and discussing the first results by leading the analysis in a mixed way, both grounded and using SOFC - Instrument for the Observation of Communicative Functions in the Classroom.

Bernstein, B. (1971). Class, codes and control: Theoretical studies towards a sociology of language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Bozzi, G. & Zecca, L. (2021). Tutoring nella programmazione robotica: prime esplorazioni con Cubetto nella scuola dell’infanzia. In: G. Bozzi, L. Zecca, & E. Datteri (a cura di), Interazione bambini-robot. Riflessioni teoriche, risultati sperimentali, esperienze (pp. 251-273), Milano: Franco Angeli.

Catlin, D. & Blamires, M. (2010). The principles of Educational Robotic Applications (ERA): A framework for understanding and developing educational robots and their activities. In: Constructionism 2010, Paris.

Datteri, E. & Zecca, L. (2016). The Game of Science: An experiment in synthetic roboethology with primary school children. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, 23, 24-29.

Lonati, V., Malchiodi, D., Monga, M., & Morpurgo, A. (2015). Is coding the way to go? In: A. Brodnik & J. Vahrendhold (Eds.), Proceedings of ISSEP 2015 (pp. 165-174), Springer.

Lumbelli, L. (a cura di) (1974). Pedagogia della comunicazione verbale. Milano: Franco Angeli.

Lumbelli, L. (1992). Interazione verbale e deprivazione linguistica. In: E. Lugarini & A. Roncallo (a cura di), Lingua variabile. Sociolinguistica e didattica della lingua (pp. 57-73), Firenze: La Nuova Italia.

Rossi, P.G. (2016). Gli artefatti digitali e i processi di mediazione didattica. Pedagogia Oggi, 2, 11-26.


Lori A. Caudle, Frances K. Harper, Margaret F. Quinn

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States of America

Through school-university partnerships that situate learning within culturally relevant educational experiences, faculty, preservice teachers, and school-based educators are able to co-construct and share scientific knowledge. This knowledge consists of pedagogical content knowledge and funds of knowledge that include both knowledge and skills developed in cultural context that have evolved historically. In early childhood education, culturally relevant Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) learning experiences are particularly important for young children’s cognitive and social emotional development. This session will describe how intentional co-planning and collaboration to celebrate the U.S. Read across America Day provided over 100 preschool children in eight classrooms with access to STEAM lessons virtually led by university preservice teachers in partnership with educators in the school. These activities engaged children in exploring art, computer science, physical science, engineering, and math within the context of a culturally relevant version of the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Lessons implemented as part of school-university partnerships support black and Latinx children’s development of a sense of belonging in STEAM. Further, these experiences enhance teacher candidates’ abilities to engage in culturally responsive STEAM teaching while receiving ongoing guidance and education from university faculty and school-based educators. Teacher education programs within higher education institutions should embrace school-university partnerships as contexts for the development of shared scientific knowledge and discourse since the benefits are twofold. First, children and teachers gain access to, and engage with, innovative STEAM experiences. Second, preservice teachers learn culturally relevant research-based instructional strategies through university coursework situated in authentic learning experiences; thus, their learning as teacher candidates is enhanced through planning, implementation, evaluation, and critical reflection.


Giulio D'Urso, Jennifer Symonds

University College Dublin, Ireland

The aims of the present research were to evaluate the preliminary psychometric properties of a new measure for evaluating teachers’ attitudes towards the representation of homosexuality in film and television, and to explore the association between moral disengagement and teachers’ negative attitudes towards homosexual representations. Participants were 241 Italian primary and secondary school teachers. The new self-report measure comprises 14 items or 8 items (brief version) scored on a 5-point Likert scale. Teachers completed three instruments: the new measure created to capture participants’ social and emotional evaluations of homosexuality in film and television, the latent and manifest prejudice scale, and the Italian moral disengagement scale. Exploratory factor analysis of the new measure suggested a single factor. The results demonstrated how the measure had satisfactory construct and convergent validity and reliability. We also identified how teachers’ dehumanization of victims and euphemistic labelling were positively associated with their negative attitudes towards representations of homosexuality.