Early Understanding of Intensive Properties of Matter: Developmental and Cultural Differences

Julia HillUniversity College London, London, United Kingdom
Anne SchlottmannUniversity College London
Michelle EllefsonUniversity of Cambridge
Keith TaberUniversity of Cambridge
Venus TseUniversity College London
Tiffany YungUniversity College London

Abstract

Many properties of substances/materials are intensive, and children are widely believed to have difficulties with reasoning about intensive quantities. Here we used a novel judgment method, together with a cross-cultural paradigm to study 4- to 9-year-olds’ understanding of the intensity/ concentration (sweetness) of sugar-water solutions. UK children knew from the youngest age that intensity increases with amount of solid, and a significant, but small effect for decreasing amount of liquid appeared by age 7, a couple of years prior to the age typically reported. Hong Kong children were more advanced, with strong liquid effects and the normative concentration pattern from the youngest age. Problems with intensive quantity reasoning may not reflect a universal cognitive limitation, but seem to depend on cultural experience. This has implications for children’s chemistry reasoning and education.

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Early Understanding of Intensive Properties of Matter: Developmental and Cultural Differences (2.9 MB)



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