Research? Like a guinea pig? All my associations with being a part of research beforehand were lab rats and potential risk for developing a third eye, but I assure you that is not the case.
I never would seek out research studies to participate in, but when I saw the University of Waterloo’s Infant Studies Group was looking for babies and toddlers 0-6, to understand how they learn, I was intrigued. Not because I wanted my son to grow extra limbs, I was a new mom so I needed those, but more to help in understanding how he was learning, so that hopefully I could understand him.
The experience with the Infant Studies Group could not have been easier. They even met us in the parking lot to help us find our way around the building, and showed my little guy how to press the buttons of what he considered to be the coolest elevator ever (I assure you this is a standard elevator but to this day he talks about it).
The Infant Studies Group is made up of two labs – the Lab for Infant Development and Language (LIDL) and the Developmental Learning Lab (DLL).
- At the LIDL, they are interested in what infants know about language. How do they process speech? When do they learn what words sound like? And what words mean?
- At the DLL, they focus on cognitive development. What do young children know about concepts and events in the world around them? How do they make and test hypotheses about their environment?
For our now two visits to the lab, my little dude has participated in the language studies, and it was anything but strenuous. He got to play in a room with myself and a Research Assistant, checking out all their cool toys (again, standard toys, but you know, NEW to him), and then we went together to sit and listen to language sounds. As a parent you get to just sit with them quietly while they take in the words for 5-10 minutes and the whole experience, magical elevator and all, takes about 30 minutes total.
I would highly recommend participating in these studies if you have little ones. They are a fun new adventure for you both, you leave knowing you are helping to understand how our children learn, and your little one even gets to leave with a little gift afterwards (sometimes a super cool T-shirt that says they are a junior scientist!)
If you are interested in participating please sign up or contact them, I promise you will not grow any extra limbs, and the excitement of a new scientific adventure just might spark something in your toddler.