Children’s understanding of sugar water solutionsu

M. Slone, F. D. Bokhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A total of 270 children aged four to 13 were tested in order to explore their physical and logicomathematical knowledge of sugar water solutions, and the relationship between the development of these two types of knowledge. Physical knowledge development followed the hypothesized sequence of non‐preservation to preservation to liquefaction. There was some evidence that atomism is a more mature construction than liquefaction, supporting Piaget and Inhelder (1941/1974) and refuting Slone (1987). Development was slower, relative to Piaget and Inhelder's sample. The scarcity of atomistic responses was interpreted in terms of the notion that atomism is a function of schooling. The hypothesized logicomathematical developmental sequence was strongly supported, from direct relations to inverse relations to proportions, thereby confirming Slone's (1987) results. However, no evidence of a U‐shaped developmental curve for proportions was found. In general the hypothesis that physical knowledge constructions precede logicomathematical constructions was not supported. The evidence was not however unequivocal, and the possibility of cross‐cultural and artefactual influences was considered. Educational and methodological implications were noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-235
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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