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Abstract

Learning physics is a complex phenomenon. In this article, we use concepts from the theory of nonlinear systems to study the development of language in classroom science in an experimental unit on chaos theory in a German 10th-grade physics classroom. In ongoing activity, the explanations students developed for phenomena emerged through interactive stabilization and material constraints on the interpretive flexibility of material (artifacts) and discursive representations (talk). Interpretive flexibility both enables novel understandings and differences between private and common public use of these representations. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 869–897, 2003