Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Science--Study and teaching--Activity programs; Science--Study and teaching (Preschool); Reasoning--Study and teaching (Preschool); Water--Experiments;


The purpose of the study is to understand changes in a target child’s reasoning about water dynamics, specifically, draining and movement of water in tubes. The study also focuses on development and evaluation of activities and teaching strategies. The activities were conducted with all children in the preschool at a public elementary school in Iowa as part of the regular classroom constructivist program inspired by Piaget’s work. Using Piaget’s theory to provide insights into the child’s reasoning and knowledge, analysis focused on the child’s construction of regularities between his actions and reactions of water, and on the construction of relationships based on these regularities. Functional relationships included those (a) between sizes and positions of holes in plastic glasses and the resultant nature of the draining, and (b) between height of water in tubes and flow. Analysis also took into account the role of contradiction in the child’s growing consciousness of regularities and relationships.

In this study, the child constructed physical knowledge and logico-mathematical knowledge in the course of experiences with water draining and water movement in tubes. Whereas the child showed progress at the conceptual level for water draining, he showed only progress at the practical level for water movement in tubes. Even though his progress in water movement in tubes was made only at the action level, this is viewed as an abundant and necessary source of future progress in conceptualization. The study is important in providing an analysis that demonstrates that children in water activities are not “just playing,” but that when materials and interventions challenge children’s reasoning, they do in fact, make progress in knowledge and reasoning. Teacher interventions that promoted progress in reasoning included fostering observation of regularities, encouraging hypotheses and their testing, fostering comparisons, and promoting consciousness of actions and reactions (including contradictions).

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Rheta L. DeVries, Faculty Advisor

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 186 pages)



File Format