Preconceptions and relations used by children in the construction of food chains

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Abstract

This study shows two aspects: the predator–prey relations and the preconceptions held by children (9–10 years old) on the construction of food chains. The subjects of the study were 506 fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade children from the Mexican education curriculum. The conclusions are based on a single application of an instrument after a lecture in the classroom. The instrument consists of three tasks. The outcome showed that the classification of herbivorous and carnivorous is based in children's preconceptions of size and ferocity. These preconceptions guide the children's selection of the higher-level predator in the construction of a food chain. Another element used by children is the predator-prey relation in the construction of a food chain. The results shed light on the difficulties students have at higher education levels in the resolution of food webs and the relationships with ecosystems.

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