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HOME SCIENCE INTERACTIONS AND THEIR RELATION TO CHILDREN’S SCIENCE CORE KNOWLEDGE IN PRESCHOOL
A limited body of work has examined the nature and scope of young children’s science-related activities outside of the school context; and thus, there is little understanding or consensus regarding what the home science environment is comprised of (i.e., interactions, activities, resources) and how specific factors of the home science environment relate to children’s science performance. The two primary goals of this study were to 1) examine the factor structure of home science interactions and 2) evaluate how these factors relate to the science core knowledge of young children from families with low incomes. Ninety-eight children (52 female) aged three to five years participated in the study. Approximately 61.42% of the children were White/Caucasian, 12.60% were Black/African American, 14.96% were Hispanic, and 11.02% were multiracial. Children were assessed on a measure of science core knowledge and parents completed a brief questionnaire on their home science interactions that included questions pertaining to both home science disciplinary core idea (DCI) engagement and home science and engineering practices (SEP) engagement. Findings revealed that although separating home science interactions into distinct DCI and SEP factors represented the data well, the best overall representation of home science interactions was a one-factor model including only home DCI engagement items. In addition, home DCI engagement was significantly predictive of children’s science core knowledge above and beyond a large group of covariates, including the child’s age, race/ethnicity, gender, and performance on math, executive function, and vocabulary tasks, as well as their parent’s education. The findings of this study ultimately demonstrate that families’ interactions about science core concepts are related to children’s science knowledge.