A Study of The Effect of Preschool Children’s Participation in Sensorimotor Activities on Their Understanding of the Mechanical Equilibrium of a Balance Beam

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether participation in sensorimotor activities by preschool children involving their own bodily balance while walking on a beam over the floor has an effect on their understanding of the mechanical equilibrium of a balance beam. The balance beam consisted of a horizontal stick balancing around its center of mass (middle point), while carrying equal-weight objects on either side of it. The study utilized a two-group design, and was conducted in three phases (pre-test, treatment and post-test). The results of the study provide evidence that there was such an effect, since the children (who participated in the sensorimotor activities) could select out of a number of objects those two with the same weight regardless of their shape, size or colour, in order to balance the stick. This effect also can be seen when a comparison is made with a second group of children, which had previously participated in a hands-on activity regarding the equilibrium of a similar balance beam, and which (children), therefore, had a definite advantage over the other children who had participated in the sensorimotor activity. A Chi Square Test showed no significant differences between the two groups on both an immediate and a delayed post-test, while the McNemar Test for the Significance of Change showed a statistically significant difference (that is, a negative change in performance between the first and the second post-test) only within the hands-on group. This difference represents evidence that the children from the sensorimotor group remembered better the rule they were applying (i.e., selecting equal-weight objects) in order to balance the beam.

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Acknowledgment

The author wishes to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on the first draft of this paper.

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Correspondence to Yannis Hadzigeorgiou.

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Hadzigeorgiou, Y., Anastasiou, L., Konsolas, M. et al. A Study of The Effect of Preschool Children’s Participation in Sensorimotor Activities on Their Understanding of the Mechanical Equilibrium of a Balance Beam. Res Sci Educ 39, 39–55 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-007-9073-6

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Keywords

  • Embodied mind
  • Sensorimotor activity
  • Early intervention
  • Understanding
  • Concept development
  • Action pattern
  • Mechanical equilibrium
  • Preschool education