The natural philosopher Michael Faraday and the psychologist Jean Piaget experimented directly with natural phenomena and children. While Faraday originated evidence for spatial fields mediating force interactions, Piaget studied children's cognitive development. This paper treats their experimental processes in parallel, taking as examples Faraday's 1831 investigations of water patterns produced under vibration and Piaget's interactions with his infants as they sought something he hid. I redid parts of Faraday's vibrating fluid activities and Piaget's hiding games. Like theirs, my experiences showed that incomplete observations and confusions accompanied—and facilitated—

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Author notes

Elizabeth Cavicchi is an artist, teacher and researcher of the history and teaching of science. She is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. Her Ed.D. from Harvard University in 1999 followed five prior degrees in education, physics and visual arts at Harvard, Boston University, and MIT. Her teaching and research are coevolving explorations that include recreating nineteenth century electromagnetic induction devices and experiments, and teaching students through their own investigations of physical science phenomena and historical materials.