A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

The Power of Awe Sparks Learning


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Whether it’s watching fireworks, talking about how vast the universe is, or learning about the largest creatures on the planet, kids’ minds are amazed and awed by so many things. Now a study finds that these feelings of awe might help inspire their curiosity and ignite learning skills.

A study out of Rutgers University in Newark suggests that when preschoolers experience awe, it may be unlocking a way to help them learn. Researchers observed kids as they watched one of three videos featuring nature. One was an “awe” video, a video featuring mountains, forests, and jungles. The second was a happy video of animals doing funny things. The third was a calm video, showing small animals doing normal things in nature. Then the kids were given a novel toy to play with.

Results from this study found that the kids in the awe group exhibited more exploratory behavior when playing with a novel toy. This suggests that when children are awestruck, they may develop a stronger interest in the world around them and be more willing to seek out new information. Parents can potentially create awe-inspiring moments in their child by conducting or observing science experiments, visiting museums, and exploring nature. These are all activities that can spark curiosity for learning.

While this study uses rigorous methods and builds on prior research, the scientists are currently conducting another study to confirm that the results are reproducible.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

(Sources: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326135925_Awesome_play_Awe_increases_preschooler’s_exploration_and_discovery, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pursuit-peace/201509/nurturing-awe-in-kids)

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