The project: The Development of Young Minds
The scholar: Hannah Baker ’17
Ms. Baker conducted a quartet of logic and reasoning experiments with children between the ages of two and five, documenting variations in responses by age and gender. Two of the experiments, involving coins arranged in various patterns and liquid presented in glasses of varying shapes, were based on the work of noted child development researcher Jean Piaget. The other two were original tests.
Notable finding from her report: “Experiment two…validated the results Piaget collected. The majority of his kids under the age of six pointed to the taller cup and said it had more in it. A child is swayed by the perceptual cue of height. The children under the age of six lack the conception of liquid quantity. They fail to realize one of the original cups was poured into another of a different size and no juice was added. There are no percentages online in terms of Piaget’ results, but our conclusions are identical.”
Biggest challenge: “The last two experiments, because the first two I found online so my results validated what was actually out there. The other two were my own. Another big thing was getting the kids to tell me why they thought something. A lot of them struggled to tell me their justification because they are so young.”
Surprising discovery: “I had a set of twins, one a girl and one a boy, and a lot of studies show that a girl’s mind develops quicker than a boy’s, and that showed with one experiment. The girl realized that both rows of coins had the same amount, whereas the boy thought when I moved them that there was more in the second row.”
Tip for future scholars: “Pick something that you love because you are going to be working on it for the entire trimester. I picked my project because I love working with kids, and I know I want to be a pediatric nurse in the future.”