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Understanding children as problem solvers

Narrator:       This is Science Today. How do changes in developing countries and communities affect children's cognitive development? Psychologist Mary Gauvain of the University of California, Riverside, has found that children do better, cognitively, in areas where there are modern amenities. Gauvain is currently working on a project in Uganda to see how kids are affected by educational programs teaching safer water use practices.

Gauvain:        Because in many situations, children are learning and using safe water or healthy practices on their own. They're not in school.

Narrator:       Gauvain says understanding how children solve these problems on their own and participate in these activities is very important, but it's not something that researchers have a very good understanding of.

Gauvain:        We tend to think of children as people who just do what we tell them to do and that they're just the recipients of cultural efforts. And children are actors in their own right and they're trying to learn and practice these skills on their own and we should try to figure out how they're understanding them.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.