New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

The Image of the scientist in cartoons series and in children minds: between stereotypes and motivation.

Edna Rubin, Achva Academic College (Israel)


Television has been repeatedly shown to be a powerful tool that can shape the mind of the watcher according to the messages it delivers [Lamish, 2009]. In children, whose sense of criticism is not fully developed, television is often interpreted as the actual truth and reality. Previous research [Bar and Koren, 2009] has shown that the image of scientist held by children aged 8-16 is a stereotypical image. Together, these two observations raise the question of the image of scientists that children are exposed to in the cartoon series they are watching. What is the image of scientist in the cartoons? What is the image of scientists held by children? And what are the connections between those images? In this research we used qualitative analysis of popular cartoon programs that some of their heroes are scientist. We analyzed 27 episodes (9 of each) of 3 popular cartoons in Israel: "The Power Puff Girls", "Dexter laboratory" and "The Moomins". For each episode, two researchers watched the episode separately and completed a form which focused on 4 major aspects of the scientists: 1. their professional work, 2. their personal life, 3. their character 4. their physical look. The study shows that similarly to the image of scientists held by children all three series portray scientists using stereotypic images in three of four aspects (professional, physical and character). The cartoons scientist is an inventor who works alone, a genius who achieves a new achievement in a short time. He is a nerd male who wears glasses and most of the time a lab coat. The scientist is portrayed as a good man who wants to improve humans' life. In one aspect (personal life) the scientist image is different in cartoons from children image of the scientist. In the paper these similarities and dissimilarities of cartoons and children ideas will be discussed. Implications and limitations of using cartoons shows to enhance children motivation to learn science will be discussed.


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