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It’s common wisdom that children are especially curious and exploratory, that this curiosity helps them learn, and that we generally become less curious get older. But there has not been much scientific research about the development of curiosity. First, how can we define curiosity more precisely and how can we study the way that curiosity changes across development scientifically? Are there different types of curiosity with different developmental trajectories such as the external exploration that allows us to actively search for new information and the internal exploration that allows us to imagine new possibilities? What are the intellectual, emotional and motivational characteristics of children that make them especially curious? What are the causes of early curiosity and its apparent later decline? How and why does curiosity vary across individuals and contexts? How do other cognitive abilities and particular kinds of contexts influence curiosity? Finally, can the developmental science of curiosity help us design ways to preserve and encourage curiosity in both children and adults? Our theoretical approach to these questions combines ideas from evolutionary biology and artificial intelligence, arguing that childhood curiosity reflects the explore side of an explore-exploit trade-off. We will carry out four empirical, cross-cultural and computational projects answering these questions and suggest ways to apply the results. We will also explore and disseminate these ideas in a popular book already under contract to Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, and in the press and media more generally, and outline potential interventions that might encourage curiosity.