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News Release 12-182

Babies Are Born Scientists

New research methods reveal that babies and young children learn by rationally testing hypotheses, analyzing statistics and doing experiments much as scientists do

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Photo of two babies playing with blocks.

Encouraging play, presenting anomalies and asking for explanations prompts scientific thinking more effectively than direct instruction.

Credit: Thinkstock


Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke with NSF about her research on young children's early learning.

Credit: National Science Foundation


In experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers studied the interactions of young children with their surroundings.

Credit: UC Berkeley


A young child shows potential as a future scientist. Alison Gopnik's TED Talk included video of an experiment done by Cristine LeGare at the University of Texas at Austin.

Credit: TED, available under the Creative Commons license "Attribution - NonCommercial - NonDerivative"


Laura Schulz's studies show that children's play involves a kind of intuitive experimentation where they examine things and events to discover cause and effect underlying them.

Credit: copyright AAAS 2012


Cover of the September 28, 2012 cover of the journal Science.

The researchers' work is described in the September 28, 2012 issue of the journal Science.

Credit: Copyright AAAS 2012

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