Wired Space Photo of the Day: Dunes of Titan
14 hours ago
Picking up on Einstein’s challenge, Piaget’s Genevan researchers presented children with various scenarios involving moving objects, such as clockwork snails crawling across a table, or two small dolls which were made to pass through tunnels of unequal length. Preoperational children would get hopelessly confused by questions about ‘how long’ and ‘how far’. Failing to take differences in speed, or starting and stopping points, into account, they might judge that something that had travelled further had also been travelling for more time. Slightly older children could use information about relative speed, such as the fact that one doll had overtaken another, but still tended to answer questions about temporal order in terms of spatial order: that is, interpreting questions about ‘before’ and ‘after’ in terms of distance rather than time.Our own experiment is not a particularly accurate reprise of those classic Genevan studies. The relative speeds of our two engines actually seem to be changing constantly: one minute the Mallard is outstripping the tank engine, and the next the smaller loco is making all the running. Isaac is excited; I'm plain emotional. Much of what we've arranged here comes from my old boyhood train set, some of which in turn dates back to a train set from the 1950s. Thirty years ago I packed a handful of tiny black track pins into a Freightliner container, thinking 'They'll be useful again one day.' Today I'm sifting them in my clumsy, grown-up fingers, and reflecting on the foresight of that long-ago ten-year-old.
Image by Ed Yourdon via FlickrHow much are children attuned to the troubles of the world? Quite a lot, it seems. A report out today, based on 1000 face-to-face interviews with six- to twelve-year-olds, shows that concerns about the global recession are topping the lists of children's reported worries. Fears of violence to self and others also loom large in children's lives, with 30% of respondents saying that the bullying was a problem.
Image via WikipediaThose who are following the book on Twitter will have noticed this new development. Why anti-parenting? I think I'm simply trying to underline the point about this not being a parenting book, but rather an exhortation to use science and imagination to reach a better understanding of where small children are coming from. I'm hoping the tweets will be daily(ish).