Empowering Families through Museum Exhibits on Child Development
Interest in the science of child development has increased dramatically in recent years. Research findings are relevant to families' lives, and address active debates with broad implications. For example, what are the consequences of societal changes in how much time children spend in supervised activities and in media activities? How do cognitive processes develop, and why do they predict important life outcomes? Can they be improved through intervention?
Our goal is to share discoveries about child development with a diverse audience of thousands of individuals in the community, by collaborating with the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus to develop interactive mobile exhibits, facilitated by CU students, based upon research findings. This project breaks down boundaries between scientists and the public, supporting direct interactions between researchers and Museum visitors. Findings and hands-on experiences empower families, some with limited experience with developmental research, by giving insight into children's behaviors and evidence-based information about activities they can try at home, and by stimulating interest in research. Parent feedback highlights our success: "Everyday is a learning experience, hopefully for people of all ages. Talking to the researchers reminded me of this." "It reinforced my possibly lapsed recognition that I am a model, coach and guide for my child in life." "Makes you stop and think about the kind of praise to give." Museum staff receive professional training from researchers regarding how to demonstrate and answer questions about the science behind the exhibits. Researchers receive unprecedented training opportunities for communicating with lay audiences.