Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications

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Science  28 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6102, pp. 1623-1627
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223416

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  1. Fig. 1

    Child’s play is science. [“Playing Doctors” by Frederick Daniel Hardy (1827–1911); image: Stapleton Collection/Corbis]

  2. Fig. 2

    Schematic representation of the ping-pong ball experiment. The experimenter showed the infants a box full of white and red balls. Then she closed her eyes and randomly took some balls from the box and put them in another small bin. If the sample was truly random, then the distribution of balls in the bin should match the distribution of the balls in the box. Infants saw a sample that either matched or did not match the distribution, and they looked longer at the nonmatching sample. In a control condition, infants saw just the same sequence of events, but the experimenter took the balls out of her pocket rather than taking them from the box, and the looking-time difference disappeared.

  3. Fig. 3

    The blicket detector experiment. Children saw that the machine did not activate when B alone was placed on it, but did activate when A was placed on it and continued to do so when B was added to A. Then they were asked to make the machine stop. Given this evidence, the correct causal interpretation is that A alone activates the machine, and the children should act on A and not B.

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