Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Constructivism (Education); Balances (Weighing instruments); Mobiles (Sculpture);


This research was conducted to explore children's construction of protologic (foreshadowing of operations) in the context of experience with balance mobiles in a constructivist setting and to explore the usefulness of making mobiles in promoting children's development of the concept of balance.

The statement of the problem is (a) Can constructivist principles of cognitive development be used to understand children's progress in the course of educational activities involving balance? If so, how? What does the progressive construction of notions about balance look like in children's behaviors? and (b) Does children's understanding of balance improve after experimenting with making mobiles?

The participants in this study were 10 first grade children and 12 third grade children from a public elementary laboratory school located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The pretest and posttest used a primary balance scale and a beam balance. Making mobiles was used as the intervention. The research of Piaget, Kamii, and Parrat-Dayan (1974/1980) and Inhelder and Piaget (1955/1958) were used as the basic framework for the pretest and posttest.

All interviews and the dialogues during the tests and making mobiles were videorecorded and transcribed for analysis. Evidence of compensation and reversibility, coherence, coordination, and contradiction were assessed in children's reasoning during intervention activities using operational definitions developed by Jean Piaget.

Before the intervention, all children had an idea that weight impacts balance, 13 out of 22 children had the idea that distance from the fulcrum impacts balance, and 6 out of 22 children considered weight and distance at the same time. After the intervention, all children maintained the idea that weight is related to balance but more children, 16 out of 22, had the idea that distance is related to balance; and 6 children among the 16 children considered weight and distance at the same time. Through the three intervention activities, more children showed consistently their belief that the higher side needs more weight to making bars balance and the understanding of the idea that distance is related to make bars balance. Nine children experienced a “Eureka” moment, that is, they had a sudden insight about how to make bars of mobile balance or connected their prior experience to the current situation.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Rheta DeVries, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 150 pages)



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