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“Try it Out and Test it”: Children as Researchers

by Ann Pelo
September/October 2009
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/try-it-out-and-test-it--children-as-researchers/5018951/

'Researcher' is not a job description. It is a way of engaging with the world. It's how children — and the best teachers — live.

Researchers value questions as highly as answers; they're comfortable with uncertainty, and enjoy unanticipated turns in a story. Researchers are curious about unfamiliar perspectives and appreciate the disequilibrium that comes when their assumptions are challenged. Researchers are persistent, committed to inquiry as a process rather than as a path to quick answers. Children are researchers, and good teachers — researchers themselves — nurture this orientation in children.

This doesn't happen by scouring activity books for science projects. Teachers support children's disposition to be researchers when they pay close attention to children's pursuits, listen for questions with numerous angles and potential complications to explore, and take up those questions with children.

Sink-and-float can be a classic activity book project: gather a bunch of disparate objects together, have children put them into a tub of water, and make a chart detailing which ones sink and which ones float.

Or sink-and-float can be a journey into the mysteries of our natural world, full of confounding encounters with contradiction and surprise. It can be an invitation into research. That's how ...

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