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Abstract

A British project that explored the way parents and their children of elementary school age carried out simple science activities at home is described and illustrated. Previous research in this field has yielded ambiguous results when evaluated in terms of school science knowledge gained. The basis of the analysis carried out here is largely descriptive using some sociological theory to understand activities in the home. It is argued that home is a special place not only rich in supportive emotions, but also imbued with idiosyncratic attitudes toward science education, which often match with attitudes toward other matters. Schools create different and more uniform cultures for the same children. There has been a long history of calls for collaboration between the two constituencies; however, this article demonstrates that a number of these differences exist which cannot fail to affect children's learning in each situation. Extracts from the children's conversations with their parents during the investigations as well as parents' interpretations of what they are doing will be presented. These vignettes illustrate a wide variation in attitude which affects the children as they daily cross boundaries from one culture to another, trying to preserve what is precious in their home culture. At home the children's participation becomes far more relaxed and personal, just as discussion with their parents is more fluent than at school. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 219–233, 2003