Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mind Lab: A Space for Learning About Learning

For more than a decade, developmental psychologists have conducted research at Providence Children’s Museum to explore how young children think and learn.  Researchers from Brown University and Providence College welcome visitors to participate in studies in the Museum’s Mind Lab each week.

This month, the Museum opened a prototype of a new space for Mind Lab as part of a major three-year National Science Foundation-funded project (award #1223777) in collaboration with Brown University to study how children develop scientific thinking skills and understand their own learning processes.  The Museum is examining what children, caregivers and informal educators understand about learning through play in its exhibits and how to support children’s metacognition – the ability to notice and reflect on their own thinking – and adults’ awareness of kids’ thinking and learning through play. 

Located off the Play Power exhibit, the new Mind Lab space hosts ongoing research by the Museum and its academic collaborators and will share information on child development, learning and play.  The space will be open during most Museum hours with research-based activities for children ages 2 to 5 and ages 5 to 10, accompanied by information and resources for adults about the ways children learn.  Museum activities will give children opportunities to practice scientific thinking – noticing cause and effect, testing through trial and error, experimenting with different possibilities – and will help them see themselves as learners.  Meanwhile, the space will inspire adult visitors to notice and reflect on their children’s often systematic and purposeful play and to recognize the importance of self-directed play and exploration to child development.

Intern Alicia and Museum researcher Suzy prototype a cause and effect activity
with batteries and motors.

Over the summer and fall, Museum researchers will prototype and evaluate different activities for kids and tools for adults, and visitors will have plenty of opportunities to test them out and share their feedback.

Find out more about Mind Lab and the Learning About Learning project, and check back for more project updates.

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