Title

Intuitive understanding of entropy in 3-5 year olds.

Poster Number

1

Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

In Physics, entropy roughly corresponds to the degree of disorder in a system. Adults have an intuitive understanding that the entropy of the elements in an isolated system cannot spontaneously decrease, that is that a disorganized set of objects is unlikely to become organized as a result of natural forces such as the wind. Friedman (2001) conducted three experiments concerned with 3-5 year olds' developing understanding of entropy. We replicated the third experiment with new, only pictorial forms of test stimuli, as opposed to Friedman's televised events. Both studies found that a significant majority of 5-year-olds predicted that a state that was initially ordered would become disordered with the application of a differentiated force. A majority of 4-year-olds made the same prediction, but not significantly so in both studies. Three year-olds chose disordered and ordered end states almost equally in both studies. None of Freidman's age groups had a significant majority that predicted a disordered end state would result from a disordered initial state. In contrast, we found that a significant number of 5-yearolds predicted a disordered end state when the initial state was ordered and when it was disordered. The results generally support the external validity of Friedman's findings across substantial variation in test stimuli.

Location

Pacific Geosciences Center

Start Date

20-4-2002 9:00 AM

End Date

20-4-2002 5:00 PM

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 5:00 PM

Intuitive understanding of entropy in 3-5 year olds.

Pacific Geosciences Center

In Physics, entropy roughly corresponds to the degree of disorder in a system. Adults have an intuitive understanding that the entropy of the elements in an isolated system cannot spontaneously decrease, that is that a disorganized set of objects is unlikely to become organized as a result of natural forces such as the wind. Friedman (2001) conducted three experiments concerned with 3-5 year olds' developing understanding of entropy. We replicated the third experiment with new, only pictorial forms of test stimuli, as opposed to Friedman's televised events. Both studies found that a significant majority of 5-year-olds predicted that a state that was initially ordered would become disordered with the application of a differentiated force. A majority of 4-year-olds made the same prediction, but not significantly so in both studies. Three year-olds chose disordered and ordered end states almost equally in both studies. None of Freidman's age groups had a significant majority that predicted a disordered end state would result from a disordered initial state. In contrast, we found that a significant number of 5-yearolds predicted a disordered end state when the initial state was ordered and when it was disordered. The results generally support the external validity of Friedman's findings across substantial variation in test stimuli.