delay; Piaget claimed that children do not do this until about 8 months of age. However, alternative tests of object permanence, which analyze where infants look immediately after the object has disappeared from view, indicate that by 3 months of age, infants at least suspect that objects continue to exist ( Baillargeon, 1987a , b ; 1993 ). Box 4.1 applications Educational Applications of Piaget’s Theory Piaget’s view of children’s cognitive development holds a number of general implications for how children should be educated ( Case, 1998 ; Piaget, 1972 ). Most generally, it suggests that children’s distinctive ways of thinking at different ages need to be considered in deciding how to teach them. For example, children in the concrete operational stage would not be expected to be ready to learn purely abstract concepts such as inertia and equilibrium state, whereas adolescents in the formal operational stage would be. A second implication of Piaget’s approach is that children learn best by interacting with the environment, both mentally and physically. One research demonstration of this principle involved promoting children’s understanding of the concept of speed ( Levin, Siegler, & Druyan, 1990 ). The investigation focused on problems of a type beloved by physics teachers: “When a race horse travels around a circular track, do its right and left sides move at the same speed?” It appears obvious that they do, but, in fact, they do not. The side toward the outside of the track is covering a slightly greater distance in the same amount of time as the side toward the inside and therefore is moving slightly faster. The child and adult are holding onto a bar as they walk around a circle four times. On the first two trips around, the child holds the bar near the pivot; on the second two trips, the child holds it at its end. The much faster pace needed to keep up with the bar when holding onto its end leads the child to realize that the end was moving faster than the inner portion ( Levin et al., 1990 ). Levin and her colleagues devised a procedure that allowed children to actively experience how different parts of a single object can move at different speeds. They attached one end of a 7-foot-long metal bar to a pivot that was mounted on the floor. One by one, 6th-graders and an experimenter took four walks around the pivot while holding onto the bar. On two of the walks, the child held the bar near the pivot and the experimenter held it at the far end; on the other two walks, they switched positions (see figure). After each walk, children were asked whether the inner or outer part of the bar had moved faster.
The difference between the speeds required for walking while holding the inner and the outer parts of the metal bar was so dramatic that the children generalized their new understanding to other problems involving circular motion, such as cars moving around circular tracks on a computer screen. In other words, physically experiencing the concept accomplished what years of formal science instruction usually fail to do. As one boy said to the experimenter, “Before, I hadn’t experienced it. I didn’t think about it. Now that I have had that experience, I know that when I was on the outer
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