STEMs of Science: A Case Study of Young Mexican-American Bilingual Children's Engagement and Perceptions about Science and Being a Scientist




Pallares-Weissling, Ana Lucia

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Taking a sociocultural perspective, this qualitative case study aims to contribute, investigate, and understand how young Mexican American emergent bilingual learners engage in early science experiences. Furthermore, the study focuses on how the students manifested their knowledge, understanding, and perceptions about science and its practitioners. Through an interdisciplinary lens, this study views young learners as active agents in the construction of scientific knowledge and learning. In addition, the study takes in consideration the sociocultural factors that may provide evidence about the stems towards a foundation of student's scientific identity formation. The study takes place in the context of an early primary dual language classroom, where Spanish is the language of instruction for science. Ultimately, this study attempted to contribute to literature on what may be at the base in the STEM gap representation and academic achievement by the Mexican-American U.S. population. Qualitative findings were gathered through a drawing of a picture, interviews, focus groups, and during science lessons observations, and revealed that Mexican-American young learners possess a fountain of science related spontaneous knowledge and skills used to engage in science related discourses and experiences at schools. During the engagement, a boy and a girl participated as units of analysis, and showed developing scientific skills and scientific literacy acquired through experiences at home and other socio-cultural contexts. Findings reveled as well that first grade students present indications of developing self-awareness as a scientific thinker, including manifesting their interest or not towards science as future pathway. In conclusion, findings suggest a need to support early elementary children's scientific knowledge and skills development and application. The support should include the incorporation of their existing socio-cultural ways of knowing science, integrated with hands on meaningful science experiences and activities at school.


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Engagement in STEMS, Interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, Science as cultural knowledge, Science in dual language programs, Scientific Identity, Scientific literacy development



Bicultural-Bilingual Studies