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Authors: D'Addezio, G.* 
Rubbia, G.* 
Marsili, A.* 
Title: Science, technology and inventions: Children draw their own visions
Issue Date: 9-Dec-2013
Keywords: children's drawings
Subject Classification05. General::05.03. Educational, History of Science, Public Issues::05.03.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Italian primary schools participated with enthusiasm to the drawing competition “I'm a scientists too! Science and scientists from the children point of view” organized by the Laboratorio di Didattica e Divulgazione Scientifica of Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia in Rome, Italy. The best drawings were awarded and published in the 2011 school calendar. Children were asked to realize a drawing, choosing among three suggestions: 1) How do you imagine a scientist and how do you imagine the daily activities of a researcher? 2) What invention do you consider the most important among all those you know? 3) What would you invent? The topic “invention” (#3) was the most successful. In fact, among the collected 1,000 drawings, 400 drawings depict scientists, nearly 150 depict scientists with their inventions, and other 350 depict inventions alone. A classification scheme was designed in order to synthetically describe this set of images and analyze it. The Draw-A-Scientist scheme, known from literature, was mantained but modified in order to characterize both inventors and inventions. As regard scientists, a preliminary analysis reveals a persistent gender stereotype, since most of depicted persons were male and nearly half of girls draw men scientists. The image of “mad scientist” is still present but it is mainly related to men. Women scientists are drawn by girls; they are represented as young, not crazy, usually good-looking. There are no particular differences between boys and girls in assigning research fields to scientists. Women scientists are often depicted as assistants, but when alone they are self-confident enough to give their name to an invention or to aspire for Nobel Prize. In this work we present the preliminary analysis performed on drawings containing inventions. What do girls and boys 6 to 11 years old invent? Robots, helping in housekeeping or in doing homework; rockets, space vehicles and time machines, but also fictional machines and hybridized animals, devices helping in human caring or having impact on the environment for a better quality of life. In general, the preferred subjects refer to something useful with respect to things we do in everyday life but also fancy devices, for which imagination runs wild. Inventions can include something useful to individuals or to a community, being something totally new, or already existing, but improved, combined or transformed; being a device or part of the natural environment or of the human body; they can involve several dimensions of living, like eating, transporting, entertainment, work. Do girls and boys conceive different inventions? What do they invent with respect to the Earth Sciences and natural environment? Which are the relationships with the outreach programs organized and performed by INGV?
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