How does the physical world in which we live shape the abstract world in which we think? I address this question by exploring the development of uniquely human geometric understanding — from the basic spatial sensitivities of infants to the high-level spatial concepts of adults. I also broaden and deepen this exploration to ask how mathematical formalisms might have been ignited in the first geometers like Euclid and how they might be reignited in the minds of our children, those future mathematicians we send to school every day. In addition, I ask how our basic mechanisms of spatial perception and cognition might have even shaped our cultural development throughout historical time, such as the production of pictorial art, by investigating the geometry in children’s drawings.
Nicole Loncar received her B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University. Her research in the Baby Lab at Princeton focused on how children use input from the environment to learn words and represent categories. She is interested in understanding how children navigate the world and approach emerging challenges in their lives, whether a mathematical problem or an otherwise stressful situation, in order to improve learning and clinical outcomes of children. Outside of the lab, Nicole can be found playing soccer on any spare patch of grass she can find, or trying out new recipes (and subsequently washing a lot of dishes).
I am fascinated by how the human mind transforms our concrete interactions with our environment into abstract thought. How do we form and use symbols? How do our human creations, like maps and language, reveal the way the way we think about and interact with our environments? I am excited to work with young learners to begin answering the questions that will inevitably lead to even more questions. I received by B.A. from St. John's College.