Developmental changes in children's understanding of horizontal projectile motion

Yi Mou, Liqi Zhu, Zhe Chen
Published Online:
03 Sep 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 50 Issue 4

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This study investigated 5‐ to 13‐year‐old children's performance in solving horizontal projectile motion problems, in which they predicted the trajectory of a carried object released from a carrier in three different contexts. The results revealed that 5‐ and 8‐year‐olds' trajectory predictions were easily distracted by salient contextual features (e.g. the relative spatial locations between objects), whereas a proportion of 11‐ and 13‐year‐olds' performance suggested the engagement of the impetus concept in trajectory prediction. The impetus concept is a typical misconception of inertial motion that assumes that motion is caused by force. Children's performance across ages suggested that their naïve knowledge of projectile motion was neither well‐developed and coherent nor completely fragmented. Instead, this study presented the dynamic process in which children with age gradually overcame the influences of contextual features and consistently used the impetus concept across motion problems.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science