Recently, CORE Lab, the Child Cognition Lab at Boston University, and Samuel Ronfard at the University of Toronto are collaborating on a COVID-19 research project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

NSF has previously funded projects in our lab to study how teleological, essentialist, and anthropocentric thinking could inform how we teach and learn about biological science. Amid the recent pandemic, NSF is awarding the RAPID grant to support projects to design educational tools to intervene on COVID-19 misconceptions. 

The research will start by studying how adults understand COVID-19, then analyzing how children perceive it through adults in their lives. Hence, the analysis could help researchers to better understand how people’s misconceptions about viruses and diseases could misdirect our behavior in response to the coronavirus. 

By understanding parents’ and teachers’ intuitive mental models of how COVID-19 works, we hope to design a children-friendly learning tool to accurately explain how the virus works, reduce misconceptions, and help children make good decisions. 

This project integrates work by Deborah Kelemen, Director of the Child Cognition Lab, showing that young children can learn and assimilate accurate scientific information to foster critical thinking needed for future similar situations like the current pandemic, with work from the CORE Lab, showing important linkages between intuitive thinking and learning scientific information. 

This study is featured on both News @ Northeastern and The Brink, a news platform featuring pioneer research from Boston University.