Research at the Museum
Boston Children's Museum is a pioneer in early childhood education and a committed advocate for the critical role of play in healthy childhood development. The landslide of research on brain development has demonstrated that early childhood stimulation and adult engagement is foundational to a child reaching his or her full potential. In one of the world's greatest research capitals, Greater Boston, universities and hospitals are conducting groundbreaking research into different aspects of child development. Boston Children's Museum works with researchers to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public and to make a positive impact on parenting practices.
2- to 8-year-olds
Infants and children learn about the world at an amazingly fast rate. Our team at the UMass Boston Baby Lab studies the similarities and differences between learning in kids and adults. How do infants explore their world? Can children remember where their toy was hidden? In the Children’s Museum, our team is has games for children that test their attention and memory using a touchscreen tablet - some of them are similar to ones that children already play at home. Stop by the 2nd floor bridge on Saturday mornings to find out more!
MIT Play Lab
1- to 11-year-olds
Boston Children's Museum has teamed up with researchers from the Early Childhood Cognition Lab at MIT in PlayLab, an exhibit featuring active research in cognitive development. Researchers conduct studies everyday with young children ages 3 months to 8 years. Their research is focused on answering questions about how children learn and understand cause-and-effect relationships and interpret different types of evidence. The studies are short and fun, and may include playing games or watching a short video or display. If you would like to learn more or participate in a study, stop by PlayLab during your visit to the Museum and look for the researchers. They are happy to tell you about what studies are underway and answer any questions.
Boston College Infant and Child Cognition Lab
3- to 12-year-olds
The Infant and Child Cognition Lab focusses on the development of numerical cognition in infants, children, and adults. They are primarily interested in how the acquisition of these mathematical concepts impact our prosocial behaviors, formal education, and later numerical abilities. In these research studies, children play short games, and adults participate in tasks on a computer or paper. To learn more about the work being done on numerical cognition, please stop by the alcove in KEVA on the 2nd floor on Sunday mornings, and speak with a research assistant.
Boston College Cooperation Lab
5- to 10-year-olds
What are the psychological mechanisms that support cooperation in humans? How do cooperative abilities develop in children? Do cooperative abilities develop similarly across different cultures? How do other animals solve cooperative dilemmas? These are some of the questions that we tackle in the Cooperation Lab at Boston College. Using a variety of methods that capture people's behavior in cooperative dilemmas, we hope to better understand how cooperative behavior is sustained in humans, how it develops in children, and how it evolves. Children who participate at the museum will take part in brief, engaging research studies where they listen to stories involving other children, distribute resources for themselves and another child, or reason about situations that they encounter in their daily life.
Boston College Emotion Development Lab
6- to 11-year-olds
Researchers from the Emotion Development Lab study how children understand facial expressions. In this research study, children are shown facial expressions and asked what emotion is shown. To participate, stop by the end of the 2nd floor bridge on Sunday afternoons and speak with a research assistant.
BCM provides researchers with:
- Time on the museum floor to recruit participants and conduct research studies
- Orientation and training on museum practices and policies
- Messaging about active research projects on the BCM website
- Set-up materials, including tables, chairs, and signs
- Access to BCM staff members who will help to troubleshoot regarding participant recruitment and visitor experience
BCM is interested in working with research groups who:
- Will engage our visitors in conversations about their research while they are on the museum floor
- Are willing to provide write-ups about their research studies for our website
- Show an interest in presenting their findings to our staff through informal professional development workshops
BCM hopes that visitors will:
- Gain awareness of the role of research in understanding child development
- Learn about important research topics that are being studied at local universities, hospitals and other research organizations
Researchers who are interested in collecting data at Boston Children’s Museum need to apply. Applications are available for Fall, Spring, and Summer trimesters, with deadlines in September, December, and April respectively.
Those seeking more information about conducting research studies at Boston Children's Museum should contact Research@bostonchildrensmuseum.org.