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Abstract

The concern about students' engagement with school science and the numbers pursuing the further study of science is an international phenomenon and a matter of considerable concern among policy makers. Research has demonstrated that the majority of young children have positive attitudes to science at age 10 but that this interest then declines sharply and by age 14, their attitude and interest in the study of science has been largely formed. This paper reports on data collected as part of a funded 5-year longitudinal study that seeks to determine how students' interest in science and scientific careers evolves. As an initial part of the study, six focus group discussions were undertaken with schoolchildren, age 10–11, to explore their attitudes toward science and interest in science, the findings of which are presented here. The children's responses are analyzed through the lens of identity, drawing on a theoretical framework that views identity as an embodied and a performed construction that is both produced by individuals and shaped by their specific structural locations. This work offers new insights into the manner in which students construct representations of science and scientists. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed94:617–639, 2010