Fall SAVY 2019: Day 1 – Psychology in Action (Grades 3/4)
We had a wonderful first day exploring symbols as a class; I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with a new generation of researchers! It is clear to me that each member of our new research team is coming in with a lot of experience and great ideas about how symbols are created and how they affect us. Each student in the class started the day by receiving their very own science notebook. Here, your student will have a place to write down their thoughts and questions, as well as keep track of key information throughout the course. I hope this will encourage them to continue to think about psychology and symbols even after our time at SAVY has ended.
A main goal in our class is to develop a working definition of a symbol that will guide the design of our experiments later in the class. Our researchers created collages to identify what they believed to be symbols and the various functions that they play in their lives. Together, we started on our working definition of a symbol, which we first decided might mean, “something that stands for something other than itself.”
To better understand the process of making symbols, our class took a trip 40,000 years back in time. Each researcher put themselves in the place of an early human attempting to convey some story to his or her people using nothing but their fingers and paint. The big question: how do we understand symbols without direct instruction? Our researchers very astutely realized that comprehension is highly influenced by the experiences of the interpreter and by the similarities they pick up on between reality and the symbol.
Together, we updated our working definition to include the importance of the symbol creator, “A symbol is something that someone intends to stand for something other than itself.”
Next week, we will dive into how developmental psychologists might study comprehension of symbols in children. Our researchers will carefully dissect actual footage of toddlers using symbolic objects like scale models, pictures, and television to complete various tasks. How did the researchers measure success? What were the various procedures used in the experiments? What features of the symbolic objects made it easier or harder for the children to succeed? With that new knowledge, we will begin to develop and run our very own experiment to get at even more complex features of how we understand and use symbols!