Scaffolding Children's Participation in Schools' Environmental Health: The Role of Teacher Mediation and Digital Tools

Scaffolding Children's Participation in Schools' Environmental Health: The Role of Teacher Mediation and Digital Tools

Maria João Silva (School of Education, Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon, Portugal), Eduarda Ferreira (Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal), Alexandra Souza (Ciência Viva School, Pavilion of Knowledge, Portugal), Ana Rita Alves (Ciência Viva School, Pavilion of Knowledge, Portugal) and Susana Batista (Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology, ISCTE, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2104-5.ch014
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Abstract

The goal of the research reported in this chapter is to explore if children can participate in schools' environmental health, while being supported by teacher mediation and eco-sensors. Eco-sensors should be used as epistemic mediators to support children in acquiring and interpreting environmental data to suggest solutions to schools' environmental health problems. Teacher mediation can scaffold children's epistemic practices to promote children's participation in scientific inquiries, centered on environmental health problem solving. A web-based platform is used as a database and to share, in multiple representations, the data acquired and organized by children. This research includes two case studies on two environmental health problems: sound pollution and air pollution. The identification of children's epistemic practices and of teacher mediation is made using audio recordings, and pre- and post-tests are used to assess other learning results. The results showed that digital sensors and teacher mediation scaffolded children's participation in environmental health.
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Background

The concept of environmental health is centered on creating health-supportive environments and encompasses the assessment and control of the environmental factors that can potentially affect health (World Health Organization [WHO], 2018). The Eco-Sensors4Health project, and the research presented in this paper, aim at improving environmental health in schools, through the assessment of environmental health problems by children and through children’s intervention on related environmental factors that may affect health. In this project, daily ICT, such as digital sensors support children participation and eco-innovation, towards the creation of healthy and sustainable schools.

In the last decade, the use of sensors, namely sensors embedded in mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, has become ubiquitous, at all times and in all places (Sagl, & Resch, 2015). Citizens acquire information about their environment and publish it in diverse settings, such as social networks, platforms of voluntary geographic information projects, and citizen science projects, thus creating knowledge that influences decisions in social life, but also in political life and in science (Boulos, et al., 2011; Elwood, 2008; Laituri & Kodrich, 2008; Zook, Graham, Shelton, & Gorman, 2010).

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