Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
Curious minds: in search of scientific reasoning skills in pre-school children
Young children question, theorize, experiment, reason and solve problems during their play. They are very eager to learn and know more about scientific concepts and issues such as the moon, stars, tides, volcanoes and dinosaurs, to name but a few. Nevertheless, at a scientific level little is known about talents in pre-school, except in the areas that prepare for traditional school disciplines such as arithmetic, language and, in some countries, science.
The researchers behind the Dutch research program Curious Minds are keen to know more about what children between the age of three to six years know and do with talents in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Yet, no reference is made to curricular or structural aspects of education. The focus is on talents that involve processing such as problem solving, logical reasoning, making an argument, estimating chance, classifying, grasping space, reflecting. Curious Minds aims to create awareness of, and open people’s eyes to children’s spontaneous expressions as exclamations of these processes and cognitive abilities. These processes reach far beyond traditional school curricula, and it means that the domain for studying children’s talents is almost unbounded as long as children’s curiosity, reasoning and problem solving are present.
The Curious Minds research rests on two important pillars: scientific research and the involvement of children’s social surroundings, with a special link to parents. The talk is about the multidisciplinary research of Curious Minds, the questions the program wants to answer and the way parents and teachers are involved.