Exploring hybrid spaces through an informal science learning programme

Azim Premji University,


This paper explores the construction of hybrid spaces through the observation of middle school children engaged in short science projects in an informal science learning programme. Hybrid spaces are not just physical structures, but refer to contexts, relationships and knowledges developed by children as their social worlds and identities merge with the normative expectations of school science. Hybrid spaces have been characterised in three different ways: as a convergent space between academic and traditionally marginalized knowledges and discourses; as a navigational space, or a way of crossing and succeeding in different discourse communities; and as a space of cultural, social and epistemological change where competing knowledges and discourses challenge and reshape both academic and everyday knowledges. (Moje et al., 2004; Barton et al., 2008). This paper characterises such hybrid paces by analysing activities of children working on short projects in the broad area of: Trees, plants and insects’, during a summer camp held at the Azim Premji University. Children seemed to primarily use the third space’ to navigate between different funds of knowledge and succeed in science. They developed science artefacts such as scrapbooks and a children’s magazine, and negotiated new roles for participating and expressing their developing science identities. They also brought in local knowledge and activities from their home contexts such as gardening, cooking and socialisation with members of their own and wider community. Informal settings help in the negotiation, construction and development of these hybrid spaces, and is particularly meaningful for children who otherwise see science as being alien and outside their everyday lives. Children brought different funds of knowledge into their participation and discussions from both their formal and informal experiences linked to science. Children decided their own trajectory of learning experiences in consultation with the facilitator. This paper also describes various possibilities in informal settings and learning experiences within and outside formal school settings, which help children explore and engage more deeply with their developing interests in science.