“Designing‘ Embodied’ Science Learning Experiences for Young Children” awarded Best Paper at HCII2020 Conference

July 2020


Thomas Jha, R., Price, S. & Motion, A. (2020) Designing ‘Embodied’ Science Learning Experiences for Young Children. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 12205, Learning and Collaboration Technologies. Designing, Developing and Deploying Learning Experiences. 7th International Conference, LCT 2020, held as Part of the 22nd HCI International Conference, HCII 2020, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 19–24, 2020, Proceedings, Part I, p.207-225


Research in embodied cognition emphasises the importance of meaningful ‘bodily’ experience, or congruent action, in learning and development (Lindgren, R., Johnson-Glenberg, M., 2013). This highlights the need for evidence-based design guidelines for sensorimotor interactions that meaningfully exploit action-based experiences, that are instrumental in shaping the way we conceptualise the world. These sensorimotor experiences are particularly important for young children as they can provide them with an embodied toolkit of resources (independent of language skills or subject specific vocabulary) that they can draw upon to support science ‘think’ and ‘talk’, using their own bodies to develop and express ideas through gesture, that are grounded on sensorimotoric representations from action experiences. Taking an iterative design-based research (DBR) approach (Wang, F., Hannafin, M.J., 2005), this paper reports the design, development and deployment of a programme of outdoor activities for children aged 4-6 years, that drew on embodied cognition theory to foster meaningful action in relation to ideas of air resistance. This research is relevant to researchers, practitioners and designers. It makes a contribution to learning experience design by making explicit the process of applying key components of embodied cognition theory to the design of science learning activities for early years, and how this can effectively inform digital design.

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