During the three-year period of the Move2Learn project, researcher-practitioner teams across six museum sites are collaboratively investigating the links between movement and learning outcomes at selected science exhibits designed for young learners. Research activities will involve iteration and refinement of new instruments and protocols, through analysis of observed and automated capture of interaction data, and synthesis and interpretation of data.

Overview of what’s happening at each research site.

Move2Learn is developing novel methodologies for capturing children’s whole-body exhibit interaction and learning, where we focus on children when they are engaging alone, with peers, and with their parents. Our methods involve both in-depth video analysis and real-time observation tools for capturing children’s exhibit interaction and pre and post interaction interviews. We focus on how children’s experiences support the way they think and communicate science ideas, as well as their emotional engagement with these experiences. Move2learn is also developing culturally sensitive survey tools that let us examine the factors influencing the way children and their parents interact at exhibits.

Our design-based research methodology addresses these questions:​

  1. In what ways can embodied interaction represent as well as communicate scientific thinking?
  2. How can we improve embodied interaction to support children’s science thinking?
  3. How does embodied interaction relate to children’s enjoyment of exhibits?
  4. How do families influence children’s embodied interaction?
  5. What, if any, socio-cultural differences exist between children and/or their families with regard to embodied interaction behaviors and their perceived value of early science learning.

New to embodied learning?   Start here for a quick dive!

Clough, S. and Hilverman, C. (2018). Hand Gestures and How They Help Children Learn. Published on Frontiers for Young Minds, June 26, 2018.

Dewar, G. (2019). The science of gestures: We learn faster when we talk with our hands. Published on Parenting Science:

Manches, A. (2017).Three Ways Hand Gestures Can Influence How We Learn. 

McNerney, S. (2011).  A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain. Scientific American, Guest Blog, Nov 4, 2011.

Schwartz, K. (2015). Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn. MindShift KQED News, March 26, 2015.



Embodied Learning/Embodied Cognition

Abrahamson, D., & Lindgren, R. (2014). Embodiment and embodied design. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd edition). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Abramova, E., Slors, M. (2018). Mechanistic explanation for enactive sociality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 18,401–424 (2018).

Amin, T. et al  (2015).  Conceptual Metaphor and Embodied Cognition in Science Learning: Introduction to special issue.  International Journal of Science Education, 37:5-6, 745-758.

Claxton, G. (2015). Intelligence in the FleshWhy Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than It Thinks. Yale University Press, Aug 25, 2015. 

Dackermann, T., Fischer, U., Nuerk, H. et al (2017). Applying embodied cognition: from useful interventions and their theoretical underpinnings to practical applications. ZDM Mathematics Education 49545–557.

Dargue, N., Sweller, N. (2019). Learning Stories Through Gesture: Gesture’s Effects on Child and Adult Narrative Comprehension. Educational  Psychology Review. Published online 26 August 2019.

Ghazali-Mohammed, Z. (2017). Literature Review: An embodied perspective of conceptual understanding of science in the early years.  Please contact Move2Learn to receive a copy.

Ghazali-Mohammed, Z., Manches, A. & Lindgren, R. (2020, Apr 17 – 21) Video Analysis to Real-Time Observation of Adult-Child Interaction: The Challenge of Translation [Poster Session]. AERA Annual Meeting San Francisco, CA (Conference Canceled)

Glenberg, A. M., Witt, J. K., & Metcalfe, J. (2013). From the Revolution to Embodiment: 25 Years of Cognitive Psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(5), 573–585.

Goldin-Meadow, S. et al (2009). Gesturing Gives Children New Ideas About Math. Psychological Science, Vol 30, No. 3, 267-272.

Hostetter, A.B., Alibali, M.W. (2019). Gesture as simulated action: Revisiting the framework. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 26721–752.

Kita, S. et al (2017). How Do Gestures Influence Thinking and Speaking? The Gesture-for-Conceptualization Hypothesis. Psychological Review: 2017, Vol 124, No. 3, 245-266.

Kontra, C., et al (2015). Physical Experience Enhances Science Learning. Psychological Sciences OnlineFirst, published on April 24, 2015, vol 26, Issue 6, 2015.  http://10.1177/0956797615569355

Levy, S. (2013). Young children’s learning of water physics by constructing working systems. International Journal of Technology and Design Education,  23, 537–566.

Lindgren, R., & Johnson-Glenberg, M. (2013). Emboldened by Embodiment: Six Precepts for Research on Embodied Learning and Mixed Reality. Educational Researcher, 42(8), 445–452.

Lindgren, R. W., & Price, S. (2018). Embodiment and technology enhanced learning environments: Cultivating a new community of design research. Chapter 12 in Conversations on Embodiment Across Higher Education: Teaching, Practice and Research (pp. 173-189). Taylor and Francis.

Manches, A., et al (2020). From Design to Difference: Increasing impact of IDC Research. IDC 2020 Extended Abstracts, June 21–24, 2020, London, UK. Published in Journal for Education in Museums, June 2020.

McNeill, D. (1994). Hand and Mind: What Gestures Reveal About Thought. Bibliovault OAI Repository, the University of Chicago Press. Vol 27 DO 10.2307/1576015.

McNeill, D. (2005). Gesture: A Psycholinguistic Approach.  Available at McNeill Lab Center for Gesture and Speech Research, University of Chicago.

Niebert, K. et al (2012). Understanding needs embodiment: A theory‐guided reanalysis of the role of metaphors and analogies in understanding science. Science Education, Vol 96, Issue 5, 849-877.

Novack, M.A., Goldin-Meadow, S. (2017). Gesture as representational action: A paper about function. Psychonomic Bulletin Review 24,  652–665.

Núñez, R. (2012) On the Science of Embodied Cognition in the 2010s: Research Questions, Appropriate Reductionism, and Testable Explanations, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21:2, 324-336.

Parrill, F. & Sweetser, E. (2004). What We Mean by Meaning: Conceptual Integration in Gesture Analysis and Transcription. Gesture. 4. 197-219. 10.1075/gest.4.2.05par.

Price, S., Roussos, G. & Sheridan, J. (2009). Technology and embodiment: relationships and implications for knowledge, creativity and communication. Beyond Current Horizons, London Knowledge Lab.

Wakefield, E. et al (2018). Gesture for generalization: gesture facilitates flexible learning of words for actions on objects. Developmental Science, Volume 21, Issue 5.

Zubrowski, B. (2009) Exploration and Meaning Making in the Learning of Science, in Innovations in Science Education and Technology, 18, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2496-1_5, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Design-Based Research 

Collins, A., et al (2004).  Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13:1, 15-42.

Kelly, A. (2004). Design Research in Education: Yes, but is it Methodological? Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13:1, 115-128, 

Penuel, W. et al (2011). Organizing Research and Development at the Intersection of Learning, Implementation, and Design. Educational Researcher40(7), 331–337. 

Sandoval, W. (2013). Educational design research in the 21st century.  Chapter 33. Routledge.

Sandoval, W. (2014) Conjecture Mapping: An Approach to Systematic Educational Design Research, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 23:1, 18-36.

Science/Children’s Museum Environments for Learning 

Andanen, E., et al (2017) Researching the Value of Educator Actions for Learning (REVEAL): A Video-Based Reflection Guide for Engaging with Families at Interactive Exhibits

Anderson, D. et al (published online 2010). Children’s Museum Experiences: Identifying Powerful Mediators of Learning. The Museum Journal, Vol 45, Issue 3, July 2002, 213-231.

Andre, L., Durksen, T. & Volman, M.L. (2017) Museums as avenues of learning for children: a decade of research. Learning Environ Res 2047–76.

Barriault, C. and Pearson, D. (2010). Assessing Exhibits for Learning in Science Centers: A Practical Tool.  Visitor Studies. 13. 90-106.

Black, G. (2018) Meeting the audience challenge in the ‘Age of Participation’, Museum Management and Curatorship, 33:4, 302-319.

Bron, S. et al (2018). ecsite Online Newsletter SPOKES Vol #38.  Science centres as research facilities, exhibitions as explorations.

Callanan, M. (2012). Conducting Cognitive Developmental Research in Museums: Theoretical Issues and Practical Considerations. Journal of Cognition and Development. 

Dancu, T.,Gutwill, J. & Sindorf, L. (2015). Comparing the Visitor Experience at Immersive and Tabletop Exhibits. Curator: The Museum Journal. 58. 401-422. 10.1111/cura.12137.

Dierking, L. and Falk, J. (1994). Family Behavior and Learning in Informal Science Settings: A Review of the Research. Science Education 78(1):57-72.

Hobson, M. and Hauan, N. (2016)  Finding Common Ground between Designers and Museum Practitioners. ecsite Online Newsletter Spoke, Vol #21.

Kidd, J. and Nieto McAvoy, E. (2019). Immersive Experiences in Museums, Galleries and Heritage Sites: A review of research findings and issues. Discussion Paper 2, School of Journalism, Media and Culture, Cardiff University.

Leister, W. et al (2016). Assessing Visitor Engagement in Science Centres and Museums. International Journal on Advances in Life Sciences, vol 8, 1 & 2.

National Research Council. 2009. Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Piscitella, B. and Anderson, D. (2001). Young Children’s Perspectives of Museum Settings and Experiences. Museum Management and Curatorship, September 2001. DOI: 10.1016/S0260-4779(01)00018-8 

Povis, K. and Crowley, K. (2015). Family Learning in Object-Based Museums: The Role of Joint Attention. Visitor Studies, 18:2, 168-182.

Sobel, D. and Jipson, J, editors (2016). Cognitive Development in Museum Settings: Relating Research and Practice. Routledge, New York, NY.

Swartz, M. and Crowley, K. (2004).  Parent Beliefs about Teaching and Learning in a Children’s Museum, Visitor Studies Today, Summer 2004, Volume VII, IssueII 

Van Schijndel, T. et al (2010).  The Exploratory Behavior Scale: Assessing Young Visitors’Hands-On Behavior in Science Museums.  Science Education, Vol 94, Issue 5, September 2010, 794-809.

Early Learning 

Deans for Impact (2019). The Science of Early Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact.

Fleer. M. and Ridgway, A. (eds.), Visual Methodologies and Digital Tools for Researching with Young Children, International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development 10.

Gopnik, A. (2012). Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications. Science 337, 1623.

Howard-Jones, P. (2018). Evolution of the Learning Brain: Or How You Got To Be So Smart. Routledge.

Laevers, F. (2005).  Deep-level-learning and the Experiential Approach in Early Childhood and Primary Education, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Research Centre for Early Childhood and Primary Education.  

Malvilidi, M. et al (2018). Immediate and delayed effects of integrating physical activity into preschool children’s learning of numeracy skills. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 166 (2018) 502-519.

McClure, E. R.  (2017). STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.  A full-text PDF of this report is available as a free download from:

Shwe Hadani, H, Lead Researcher and Co-author, Rood, E., Editor and Co-author (2018). The Roots of STEM Success: Changing Early Learning Experiences to Build Lifelong Thinking Skills, Center for Childhood Creativity. 

Silander, M., et al (2018)  What Parents Talk About When They Talk About Learning: A National Survey About Young Children and Science. New York, NY, & Menlo Park, CA: Education Development Center, Inc., & SRI International. 

Sinatra, G., Heddy, B. and Lombardi, D. (2015) The Challenges of Defining and Measuring Student Engagement in Science. Educational Psychologist, 50:1, 1-13.

Weinstein, Y., Sumeracki, M. and Caviglioli, O. (2018). Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide. Routledge.


Lakoff, G. (2015). How Brains Think: The Embodiment Hypothesis. Keynote address recorded March 14, 2015 at the inaugural International Convention of Psychological Science in Amsterdam 

Lakoff, G. (2013).  Presentation by Cognitive Science and Linguistics Professor at UC Berkeley: Cascade Theory: Embodied Cognition and Language from a Neural Perspective at the Central European University on October 22, 2013. 

Penuel, W., et al. (2016). Design-Based Research Implementation.


On the Web 

Bailenson, J. (2017). Virtual reality offers a captivating way to learn—in the classroom and beyond. Interview on School’s In radio program, Stanford University Graduate School of Education, April 16, 2017.

Beaumont, L. (2015). The Adult Child Interaction Inventory: A tool for exhibit development and evaluation. Evergreene Research and Evaluation.

Blanquet, E., Stylinaidou, F. and du Preez, H, guest editors (2018). Special Issue: STEM & Early Childhood Education, European Journal of STEM Education: 2018, Volume 3, Issue 3.

Goldhill, O. (2019). The replication crisis is killing psychologists’ theory of how the body influences the mind. Quartz, January 16, 2019.

Gutwill, J. and Dancstep, T (2019). How Do Children Engage with STEM Museum Exhibits? Results from a Large Observational Study. Posted online at

Hadani, H., ed. (2017).  Attention, please!: Optimizing children’s learning in museums. Creativity Trend Report. Vol 2: Spring 2017, 6-7.

Hadani, H., and Rood, E., editor (2018). The Roots of STEM Success: Changing Early Learning Experiences to Build Lifelong Thinking Skills. Center for Childhood Creativity.

Munley, M. (2012). Early Learning in Museums: A Review of Literature. Prepared for the Smithsonian Institution’s Early Learning Collaborative NetworkandSmithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC). Available online at

Wallis, C. (2017).  How Seeing and Using Gestures Make Ideas More Memorable. The Hechinger Report, Oct 25, 2017 



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