As a baby scientist I often get asked ‘What is a baby scientist?’. One answer is that I am a scientist who studies what it is like to be a baby. And what is it like to be a baby? Funnily enough it’s a lot like being a scientist: You start with no idea what is going on but you can out find out is by seeing what other people think and by performing your own experiments.
This might seem a little too cute to be true*. But a lot of baby scientists are taking it seriously. Laura Schultz and Alison Gopnik are both studying how young children’s play is a vital form of experimentation that helps them learn about the world and how it involves them weighing up different possibilities and probabilites. And the really great news about this is that it means rather than trying to teach things to tiny children we should put them in rich and stimulating environments where they can play around and discover things for themselves.
* That’s an occupational hazard when working with babies.