A Cornell University study published in a special issue of Developmental Psychology (Vol. 49:3) reveals that “children are natural scientists” who can “gather and assess evidence from the world around them.”

The study, lead by Tamar Kushnir, the Evalyn Edwards Milman Assistant Professor of Child Development and the director of the Cornell College of Human Ecology’s Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory, shows that preschooler’s can “infer what a person might know from watching what they do…and they can then use this [information] to choose whom to learn from.”

Researchers found that three to four-year olds’ understanding of cause and effect is influenced by information from other people, and that they can discern good sources of information from bad.  Three to four-year olds, the study finds, are not entirely credulous.

Want to teach and cultivate the next generation of “natural scientists?” Cornell Garden-Based Learning offers a variety of multi-disciplinary activities which target knowledge and skill-building in the garden.  Seed to Salad emphasizes decision-making and a multi-disciplinary approach while youth grow salad gardens. Dig Art! Cultivating Creativity in the Garden integrates gardening with the arts and ecological literacy.  Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (VVfG) and Vegetable Varieties Investigation (VVi) utilizes a citizen science approach to teach middle and high school aged youth about preserving biodiversity and connecting with the community.  

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