Dr. Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator during the early 1900's. She noted that young children have an "absorbent mind," with which they learn through repeated activity and without effort. She observed that, given appropriate materials, children easily integrate new knowledge and master increasingly complex tasks. She developed the concept of a "prepared environment" in which such materials are available. Within this prepared environment, great care is taken to lead the child through successive levels of educational activities without unnecessary help form the adult. A child is free to choose her own materials, to move about the room as she wishes, to work alone, to work with others, or to work with a teacher. In investigating this environment, the child develops an enthusiasm for knowledge that produces a confident, competent learner in later years.