This chapter investigates various usages of semiotic objects in science education, such as arrows and graphics. We propose a series of examples drawn from physics schoolbooks, school tasks, and research data to investigate the semiotic roles of these objects in their specific context of use, which is to teach physics. It is not necessary to know physics prior to the reading of this chapter: we are analyzing signs and possible interpretations. The aim is to illustrate potential situations of misunderstanding related to semiotic objects, taking into account a novice standpoint. For instance, the comparison of various uses of arrows on a single sketch reveals the diversity of semiotic roles played by the same object. It illustrates the need for coordination between semiotic registers by the interpretant for a successful mediated communication. The results also stress the particular challenges of such coordination in science modeling. It advocates for more practice of modeling and for students to take a more active part in the process, in order to prepare them to interpret models more easily, and for teachers and students to share more explicit discourses and usages of semiotic objects.
Part of the book: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Semiotics