Research in Science Education

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 21–42 | Cite as

The Contribution of the Human Body in Young Children’s Explanations About Shadow Formation

  • Evagelia Herakleioti
  • Panagiotis Pantidos


This paper begins with the view that the generation of meaning is a multimodal process. Props, drawings, graphs, gestures, as well as speech and written text are all mediators through which students construct new knowledge. Each semiotic context makes a unique contribution to the conceptualization of scientific entities. The human body, in particular, can function as a factor in both representation and explanation, serving as a link between verbal discourse and setting. Considering this perspective, a body-based activity was designed for kindergarten children, involving the concept of a shadow. The 3-D arrangement of the light from the light source, the human body (the obstacle), and the resulting shadow plays a central role. Using their own bodies as obstacles to the light, the children were able to explore the direction of the light and to change the relative positions of the light source and the obstacle. They formed hypotheses and were able to test them by moving on the stage. This body-centered activity explicitly incorporates the rectilinear movement of light into the process of shadow formation, while also providing learning through direct experience. Positive effects on learning were achieved for the group of children who participated in the activity, while the video analysis showed that many of the children were able to use their bodies to transfer to a different setting the embodied knowledge they acquired. This, according to researchers in the field of science education, is a powerful indication of conceptual change.


Shadow formation Human body Embodied knowledge Transfer of knowledge 



We would like to thank the artist Pantelis Constantinou for the drawings.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of EducationAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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