Research for families.
To understand the power of play, the Museum is proud to host leading-edge child development research studies in partnership with regional colleges and universities. During a visit to the Museum, you may find researchers seeking participants for studies. But not to worry! These studies are always designed to be quick and fun!
If approached, please consider participating as your involvement helps build future knowledge about how children learn through play. As always, participation is optional.
MindCore / Changing Brain Lab
University of Pennsylvania
The Museum partnered with researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Child Development Labs and Changing Brain Lab to study cognitive development focused on understanding children’s learning and motivation. Much of children’s early life is characterized by active, self-directed learning and exploration. However, there is a great deal of variability in how children approach learning problems. The goal of the research was to explore the many factors that influence challenge-seeking and persistence while uncovering ways to encourage children to engage in and persist through all learning opportunities.
Lead researchers Allyson Mackey and Julia Leonard found children persist less when adults take over, publishing their findings in the journal Child Development.
Scientific Thinking and Representation (STAR) Lab
The Museum has partnered with researchers from the Scientific Thinking and Representation Lab (STAR) at Villanova University to study the development of scientific and imaginative cognition in children. This research examines how children learn from storybooks. Although very young children can distinguish reality from fiction, little else is known about the nature of their imaginative abilities. When children play pretend games or listen to stories, what principles govern their interactions with imaginary worlds? And what role does imaginative cognition play in development? This study involves reading a storybook to children and answering questions about the story just as children might do at school to identify the linkages between imaginative cognition in pretend games and stories and the serious uses of imaginative cognition in future planning and scientific reasoning.