Research: ‘To Get Children to Eat Veggies, Add Science’

Meilee and Shen pose with the first squash blossom from their pumpkin plant.
Meilee and Shen pose with the first squash blossom from their pumpkin plant.

“(A new study shows) that scientists can overcome the child-vegetable repulsive principle. Remarkably, the scientists in question are the children themselves. It turns out that, by giving preschoolers a new theory of nutrition, you can get them to eat more vegetables.”

This quote comes from a Mind & Matter column by Alison Gopnik in the July 13-14 Review section of The Wall Street Journal. Gopnik is the author of the book “The Scientist in the Crib” and has argued that “very young children construct intuitive theories of the world around them…these theories are coherent, causal representations of how things or people or animals work. Just like scientific theories, they let children make sense of the world, construct predictions and design intelligent actions.”

This piece and the Stanford University study to which Gopnik refers suggest to me that if children have a natural inclination toward a scientific mind, then we have to nurture their abilities. It’s a great irony that in order to teach our children how to function in society, we often end up curbing qualities – curiosity, fearlessness, inquisitiveness, unbridled joy – that can help them succeed in life. Or, in this case, eat more vegetables.

Read Alison Gopnik’s column here.

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