Piagetian Tasks

Prepared by Jayasree Narayanaswamy

Conservation of liquids

I conducted the experiment with a six-year-old boy named Tanay. It was around 8.00pm and I went to his house and conducted the interview on 23rd February 2005. Tanay and I sat down on the sofa chairs and I placed the glass cups on the coffee table in front of the sofa. The table was within in our reach.

Q1. Hi Tanay, I would like to play a game with you? Is that Ok?

Tanay: yeah.

I kept the two glasses of the same size and a third one, which is wider than the previous, two on the table.  In addition, I placed a tall white pitcher filled with water to almost two thirds of its capacity.  He looked at the glasses and then looked up at me. Then we both sat down.

Q2. First of all, we have to fill these two cups with the same amount of water. Would like to do it yourself?

Tanay: I can do that.

He took the measuring cup, held it in his right hand, and started filling the cups one after the other.

Q3. Do you think the amount of water is the same in these two cups? What do you think will happen if I pour one cup of water in to another cup (I pointed to the third cup, which is wider than the other two)?

Tanay: Both the cups have same amount of water. But it will be different in the third cup.

He looked at the three cups and then at the water levels in the two identical cups. He transferred water from one of the two identical cups to the third cup.

Q4. What do you see?

He looked at the water in the two cups, paused for a few seconds, and then slowly looked at me.

Tanay: Now they don’t have the same amount of water..

Q5. Do you think the amount of water is the same or different now?

A. One cup is taller and it has more. (Pointing toward the wide mouthed cup) The other cup is shorter and it has less

Q6. Why do you think that is the reason?

Tanay: The cups should be of the same size. If one is tall (pointing to the tall cup) then it will more water. If it is short (pointing to the wide mouthed, short cup)

Q7. Will it be the same when I pour it back? (He started pouring the water back from wide mouthed cup to the tall cup. Now the two cups of same size are filled with water.)

A. I t will be same again.

Q8. Why do you think it is the same now?

Tanay: The cups have the same height. So the water is the same in these two cups.

Q9. Thank you for playing with me. How about one more game?

Tanay: Ok. But what is it about? Is it like this one? I like pouring water. It is fun.

Conservation – Animism

Q1. Do you know what alive means?

Tanay: Yeah. It means you can breathe. You need a mouth for that. All people can breathe. (He looked at me and nodded his head.)

Q2. Do you think birds are alive?

Tanay: Birds are alive. I know that.

Q3. Why do you think birds are alive?

Tanay: Because they can fly. They have eyes and (paused for a second and looked at me with a smile) they can breathe.

Q4. How about this toy train? It runs on batteries.

Tanay: No. (He looked at the blue toy train lying next to him). I move this. Anybody can press the button. It doesn’t move on its own. If the battery runs out, it won’t work. It cannot talk either.

Q5. What do you think of me? Am I alive?

Tanay: Yeah. You can move and talk.

Q6. Why do you think I am alive?

Tanay: You can breathe and eat. So, you are alive.

Q7. How about the sun, the moon, and the stars? Are they alive?

Tanay: No. They are not alive. They don’t have face. They cannot walk.

Q8. Is wind alive? Why?

Tanay: No. It doesn’t have any face.

Q9. Is your bike alive? It can move.

Tanay: No. It is not. I move it.

Q10. Is the pencil alive? (I picked up the pencil and rolled it on the table.)

No. It moves because you are moving it.

Q11. How about that bunny (a brown and white Stuffed toy Bunny)?

Tanay: (Turned to his left and looked at the toy bunny) No. That doesn’t move or breathe. It is fake not real.

Q12. Thank you so much Tanay. You know a lot of things.

I thanked his mother for allowing me to interview him and left.

Analysis

In this experiment on Conservation (liquids), Tanay is yet to conserve. Tanay is in the preoperational stage. The quantity remains the same despite a transfer to a different container. However, Tanay noticed the size and shape of the cup and replied based on the differences in shape of the cups regardless of the same amount of water transfer. In the animism experiment, Tanay was able to differentiate between what is alive and what is not. He could explain the reasons as well. Hence, He has conserved. He explained that things that are inanimate do not breathe.

Tanay participated quite well and was very comfortable while answering the questions. He was confident while explaining what is alive and what is not alive.

Conservation of liquids

I conducted the second experiment with a five-year-old child named, Jason on March 25th 2005. I went to his house and conducted the experiment on the dining table.

Q1. Hi  Jason ,  I would like to play a game with you ? Is that Ok ?

Jason: Ok. What is it about? ( He looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.)

Q2. First of all, We have to fill these two cups with the same amount of water. Would like to do it yourself? (I kept the two glasses of the same size and a third one, which is wider than the previous, two on the table.  In addition, I placed a large glass jar filled with water to almost two thirds of its capacity.  He looked at the glasses and then looked up at me. Then we both sat down next to each other.)

A. Yeah. I want to do it. (As he started pouring the water, He said, “see how I can do it all by myself.”)

Q3. Do you think the amount of water is the same in these two cups? What do you think will happen if I pour one cup of water in to another cup?

( He looked at the two cups and then looked at me)

Jason: They are the same. The cups look the same too.

Q4. What do you see?

A. Now the water is in a different cup.

Q5. Do you think the amount of water is the same or different now?

A. It is different now.

Q6. Why do you think that is the reason?

Jason: Because these two cups look different. This one is tall and this one is short. (He pointed to the two cups – tall cup and the wide mouthed short cup respectively.)

Q7. Will it be the same when I pour it back?

Jason: I think so. (He kept looking at the cups. Then He transferred the water back in to tall cup where it was before.)

Q8. Why do you think it is the same now?

Jason: See. These two cups have the same size. That’s why.

Q9. Thank you for playing with me. How about one more game?

Jason: Ok.

Conservation – Animism

Q1. Do you know what alive means?

Jason: Alive. I know that. It means you can talk. And you can move. Or you can eat also.

Q2. Do you think birds are alive?

Jason: They are alive.

Q3. Why do you think they are alive?

Jason: Birds can fly and they make noises. (He made noises like coo.. coo ,Quack , quack a few times.) They have eyes.

Q4. How about this toy train? It runs on batteries. (I showed him a blue toy train character Thomas, The tank engine.)

Jason: No. (He looked at Thomas train and smiled and then shook his head.) It moves but it is not like us. It is like a machine. It cannot do it on its own. And when there is no battery we have to put new ones.

Q5. What do you think of me? Am I alive?

Jason: You are alive. (He looked at me and giggled.)

Q6. Why do you think I am alive?

Jason: I know why you are alive. Because you have mouth. You talk. And you can walk. (He paused for a second, rolled his eyes to both sides and then looked me.)You are a person. Everyone I know is alive. All persons are alive

Q7. How about the sun, the moon, and the stars? Are they alive?

Jason: No. They are not alive. They cannot talk.( He slightly shook his head from side to side.) They are not people or animals. Also not birds. They are only things that make day and night.

Q8. Is wind alive? Why?

Jason: Wind is not alive. (He clasped his hands and made a sound “Whoosh, Whoosh like that. This what wind sounds like sometimes.”) Wind doesn’t have any face.

Q9. Is your bike alive? Why?

Jason: No. I can ride my bike. But it doesn’t go on its own. I can go without the training wheels. I have balance and I go faster and faster. (He stretched his right arm, moved it fast toward his left, and said that is how fast he can go.)

Q10. Is the pencil alive? 

Jason: No. It’s not. It cannot move. (I rolled the pencil on the table.)

Q11. How about now? It is moving.

Jason: No. (He shook his head and giggled.) You moved it, that’s why. It cannot move like people.

Q12. How about animals? Do you think they are alive? Why?

Jason: Yes. They are alive. They can move. And they make noises. I know cats always say meow. (He cupped his palms around his mouth and said meow, meow.) I can make a lot of different animal noises.

I thanked him for playing with me. He smiled and raised his right arm and gave me a hi- five.

Conclusion

Jason is yet to fully comprehend the idea of conservation of liquids. Nevertheless, He could tell that the amount of water is the same in identical cups. Jason has fully grasped the idea of animism. He knows the difference between inanimate objects and live ones.

He was very enthusiastic while responding to my questions. In addition, Jason transferred the water himself while doing the conservation of liquids. He was eager to participate and was amused when I asked him questions on animism. It was a wonderful experience for me as well.

The experiments helped me to view things from the perspective of children. It actually provides an insight in to the thought process of the children I interviewed. I stopped, listened, and was quite amused as well as amazed. Parents and educators will be able to know the cognitive development-taking place during the early years through these experiments, provided it is conducted with a non-judgmental attitude. The real key to understand a child will be to look at this from his/her position. It will enhance the creativity in children.

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