I spent four years reading countless research studies about child development through a sociological, psychological, and anthropological lenses for my Child and Youth Studies Degree and found many very interesting. So when I went to the Baby Show last year and found out that the Infant and Child Studies Centre – University of Toronto Mississauga recruits infant participants for the Little Scientists Program in Mississauga.
I was interested and signed up to be contacted. Child studies are important as they allow researchers to gather valuable information about the physical, social and emotional development of infants and children.The Infant and Child Studies Centre run a program called Little Scientists that recruits research participants aged 4 months – 15 years old. The program is voluntary and there are no fees, risk free as you stay with your child the entire time, and fun game-like studies. Not only was it fun to be part of research but Thumper also received a cool Little Scientist diploma and t-shirt for being part of the study. This is only one of the 52 Activities you can do on Maternity Leave.
Little Scientists Program in Mississauga
What type of Child Studies are taking place?
The Infant and Child Studies Centre has made important advances in early child development over the last 30 years. There are four labs associated within the Centre: Dr. Sandra Trehub’s Music Development Lab, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Infant Language Lab, Dr. Glenn Schellenberg’s Music & Cognition Lab, and Dr. Tina Malti’s Social-Emotional Development and Intervention Lab. The centre focuses on children’s language, music and social emotional development.
The building was easy to find as there was lots of signage pointing you to the reserved parking for |Invited Parents|, and a research assistant met me in the parking garage to guide be to the research area. The study we were invited for was part of the Dr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Infant Language Lab, and was interested in the early stages of language acquisition.
The acquisition of a first language starts very young and children typically learn to speak their native language. The research is studying the initial steps that infants take to acquire their native language and the impact of variability in speech, unfamiliar language and voices. In the first few months of life, infants are actively engaging with the environment around them, and thus acquiring language development and early communication skills.
Our Experience as a Little Scientist
The meeting area was kid friendly with toys and a large mural on the wall which felt like your typical living room at home thus making you feel comfortable in your setting. The researcher welcomed us and then began to explain the purpose of the study and the steps that we would complete. We were then taken to the infant language lab where I sat in a small room which was a sound attenuated room with Thumper on my lap and the experimenter observed and video taped her looking behavior and responses to the current study.
Thumper sat on my lap and watched a television screen that showed many high contrast images and listened to 2 different English language speakers. The researchers were trying to determine if she would notice the difference in speaker, by presenting a new sound to accompany the images once she had got bored with the first person speaking.
I sat with headphones on so that I could not distract or influence Thumper’s perception of the sounds she heard. The whole study took about 10 minutes, and then there was a quick debrief with a questionnaire. Overall the experience was quick, fun and rewarding to know we are helping further understand infants development.
If you are interested in becoming a participant in the Little Scientists Program in Mississauga, you can find more information here.
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