Assessing K-5 Students' Conceptual Understandings of Winter Weather Hazards and Safety in Gwinnett County, GA
Children's conceptual understandings of science topics prior to receiving formal education serve as a framework for future interpretation and construction of new knowledge; therefore a better understanding of children's ideas of winter weather hazards and safety may lead to the design of a more effective weather curriculum and teaching strategies. While previous studies have explored perceptions of basic weather and climate concepts at various age levels, to date no studies have been found which focus specifically on children's conceptual understandings of winter weather or weather safety. Efforts are currently underway to assess K-5 students' understandings of these topics in Gwinnett County, Georgia. These efforts include: 1) administering a quantitative pre-test to a large sample of students in K-5 classrooms at an elementary school in Gwinnett County in order to determine their conceptual understandings of winter weather hazards and safety, including questions on how their understandings came about (e.g., personal experience, books, parents); and 2) selecting a smaller sample of students from each grade level for semi-structured interviews, which serve to gain further insights into their understandings of these topics. This presentation will discuss the results from the pre-tests and interviews, as well as the development of education materials based on these findings to educate K-5 students about winter weather hazards and safety.