The Materiality of Materials and Artefacts Used in Science Classrooms

  • Kathrin Otrel-CassEmail author
  • Bronwen Cowie
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 18)


In this chapter we are interested in problematizing the notion of material and materiality and what this may mean for teaching in science. We are interested in doing this because science frequently uses and produces explanations that are different from common observations. In science education a variety of materials are used for different purposes, starting from the mundane objects such as tables and chalkboards to more specific materials, including those that bridge understanding, simulate unobservable phenomena and/or reproduce natural processes (at times by reducing the variables that are involved in their natural occurrence). The challenge in thinking with materials or artefacts is that ‘to live, humans need to interpret the world reductively as a series of fixed objects….material denotes some stable or rock-bottom reality’ (Bennett J: Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things. Duke University Press, Durham, 2009 p. 58, emphasis by original author). What Bennett refers to is the concreteness that materials and artefacts carry which ground thinking, talking or experiencing the world.



We acknowledge the contributions of the project teachers and their students and the funding through the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative managed by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Universityof GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.The University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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