Move2Learn: Exploring how young children’s communication of science is shaped by their sensorimotor experiences

18th February 2020 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Seminar

Speaker: Rhiannon Thomas, UCL

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Alex Hodgkiss

Seminar Abstract


Move2Learn is a collaborative project between museum practitioners and researchers across the US and UK which seeks to explore how science focused exhibits and experiences can be designed to help children aged 3-6 years develop and communicate their scientific thinking. In particular the project is exploring what types of sensory experiences and physical actions are meaningful for developing science ideas across this age range.

In this talk I will present my work in collaboration with Learning through Landscapes (an outdoor learning charity) and the Science Museum (London). Using qualitative research methods, I will demonstrate how the particular sensorimotor experiences which children encountered during two science themed activities (around air resistance and water flow) shaped the way that they later thought and communicated about these science ideas. In particular I will present examples of how children’s experiences shaped the way that they gestured about these ideas – whilst suggesting that these gestures might provide evidence that meaningful sensorimotor experiences can be incorporated into an embodied schema which supports children’s science thinking and communication. Finally, I will discuss the implications that this work has for the design of exhibits and experiences which aim to communicate science to young children.


About the Speaker


Dr Rhiannon Thomas is a Senior Research Associate at UCL Knowledge Lab. She has a background in Developmental Psychology and across her research career has investigated how children combine information presented across their senses in the context of their experiences and their bodies. She completed her PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck in 2013, which explored the influence that learned semantic associations had on processing of current audio-visual stimuli. As a researcher on ‘Move2Learn’ her work explores how theories of embodied cognition can be drawn upon to inform the meaningful design of science activities and how these might shape thinking and communication.