Spatial Awareness of Dutch Children aged 8-11
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There is a current mismatch between supply and demand in the labor market in The Netherlands . Not enough students choose to major in science and technology studies. So available positions in the job market in this field are not filled. This problem is particularly acute in the field of geoinformation. In order to address this problem an organization, Beta mentality, has been founded. It promotes science and technology in Dutch elementary and secondary schools by providing workshops, curriculum materials and support to schools and teachers. Its goal is to expose more children to science and technology and to enthuse children so they will choose science and technology subjects. To support the development of suitable curriculum material, it is important to establish the current level of spatial awareness of pupils. The objective of this study is to explore the difference in spatial awareness of children aged 8 -12 in Dutch primary schools. Spatial awareness is the organized knowledge of objects including oneself in a given space. This study examines the spatial skills of children aged 8-12 at a Dutch primary school. The level of spatial awareness has been determined by testing the pupils in two different ways. The pupils took a walk in the town of Elburg along a prescribed route with either a paper map or a mobile map. Afterwards the pupils were asked to complete small scale spatial tests, e.g. mental rotation and a large scale spatial test, drawing a mental map. The answers to the multiple choice questions and the analysis of the mental maps formed the basis for the results. The mental maps were analysed according to the methods of Kevin Lynch (1960) and Donald Appleyard (1969,1970). The comparison of skills is based on gender, age and navigational aid. The results were not found to be influenced by either gender or navigational aid. Age is shown to have an impact on the results. The older children performed better on the small and large scale skills. Finally the results of the large and small scale skills were examined for a possible correlation. The two types of skills were found to have a mild correlation.