Archive for July 28, 2011

4-5 year old children seem to use the scientific method

Intriguing result that suggests that children apply the scientific method quite early in their development.  My observation of student programmers suggest that they don’t test only one variable at once. They tend to change several different lines of code that they think might be related to a bug, and rejoice if the bug went away — without ever understanding why.  I wonder why the difference?  Is programming something that 18 year olds don’t see as understandable, or do we grow out of the careful study of one variable at a time?  Or is it that students in CS classes have a goal of creating a working program for a grade, rather than understanding how the program works?

In cases in which the children didn’t know which beads made the toy play, the researchers found that the kids tested each possibility in turn in order to find out — much like the way in which scientists devise their experiments to test individual variables separately. Laura Schulz, one of the researchers from MIT, explains that it’s the same idea that you use when trying to find out which of your keys opens a door: “You might change the position of the key, you might change the key, but you’re not going to change both at once,” she says.

via Learning by experiment is all in a day’s play : Nature News.

July 28, 2011 at 10:31 am 3 comments


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