This paper is concerned with highlighting young children's ideas about the nature, location and appearance of germs, as well as their reasoning strands about germs' ontological category and biological functions. Moreover, it is concerned with exploring how all these could be taken into account for shaping a potentially fruitful learning environment. Conducting individual, semi-structured interviews with 35 preschoolers (age 4.5-5.5) of public kindergartens in the broader area of Patras, we attempted to trace their ideas about what germs are, where they may be found, whether they are good or bad and living or non-living and how they might look like in a drawing. Moreover, children were required to attribute a series of biological functions to dogs, chairs and germs, and finally to create a story with germs holding a key-role. The analysis of our qualitative data within the "NVivo" software showed that the informants make a strong association of germs with health and hygiene issues, locate germs mostly in our body and the external environment, are not familiar with the 'good germs'-idea, and draw germs as 'human-like', 'animal-like' or 'abstract' entities. Moreover, they have significant difficulties not only in employing biological functions as criteria for classifying germs in the category of 'living', but also in just attributing such functions to germs using a warrant. Finally, the shift from our findings to a 3-part learning environment aiming at supporting preschoolers in refining their initial conceptualization of germs is thoroughly discussed in the paper.
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