British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 23 Issue 1 (March 2005), Pages 1-155

The development of scientific knowledge of the Earth (pages 47-64)

Investigation of children's knowledge of the Earth can reveal much about the origins, content and structure of scientific knowledge, and the processes of conceptual change and development. Vosniadou and Brewer (1992, claim that children construct coherent mental models of a flat, flattened, or hollow Earth based on a framework theory and intuitive constraints of flatness and support. To examine this account, 62 children, aged 5–10 years, and 31 adults ranked 16 pictures according to how well they were thought to represent the Earth. Even young children showed scientific knowledge of the shape of the Earth. There was little or no evidence of naïve mental models, indicating that any intuitions or constraints must be very weak. Instead, before they acquire the scientific view, children's knowledge of the Earth appears to be incoherent and fragmented.

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