Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Critter Care

critter-careHi there!  We’re doing Critter Care right now.  Meet Marina, one of our Visitor Experience Associates.  She’s cutting up food for our critters.  Boston Children’s Museum has four live animals:  Watson, our bearded dragon lizard; Oliver our ball python; and we have two new spotted turtles who we haven’t named yet.   Every day a Museum staff person is assigned to “Critter Care”.  No experience is required to sign up for Critter Care, just a willingness to deal with the messes that animals can make. Critter Care team members seem to think that the benefits and enjoyment of working with the animals outweighs the little bit of unpleasantness.

Caring for the critters gets them used to humans as we handle them which is important because we like to take them out of their homes occasionally to have them meet our visitors during “Creature Features”.  Some Critter Care staff are also trained in “Creature Features”, where they learn proper handling and how to talk to visitors about the animals.

Staff members on the Critter Care team generally really enjoy getting to know the animals and develop a real fondness for them.  They learn a lot about these individual animals, as well as the species in general.  Watson is a staff favorite.  He’s extremely social and often can be found at our staff Morning Meeting.  He likes to latch on to the front of your shirt and hang there, head cocked to the side listening. Sometimes we let him skitter along the floor. His claws slip a bit on the tiles, but he is undeterred – so much freedom!

The next time you’re at the Museum come visit our live animals on the first floor in Investigate, between Bubbles and Raceways.

Project Play: Research at Boston Children’s Museum

Lifter office

Boston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. We will periodically publish articles from these researchers about their work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, Karin Lifter, PhD from Northeastern University shares below some information about her research at the Museum:

Project Play at Northeastern University is dedicated to studying developments in play of young children who are developing typically, and young children who are developing with delays, such as language or movement delays, from 8 months to five years of age. You might have seen one or another of us recruiting children for our project outside PlaySpace on Friday nights.

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How do Children Think about Morality? : Research at Boston Children’s Museum

KidsBoston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. Look for articles each month about these researchers’ work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, Larisa Heiphetz from Boston College’s Morality Lab shares below recent learning about her research at the Museum:

Imagine that two children disagree about a moral issue. One child says that it’s better to share with someone, and another child says that it’s better to pull someone’s hair. Could both of these children be right, or could only one child be right?

Several prior studies in developmental psychology and experimental philosophy have shown that preschoolers usually think that moral beliefs are akin to factual beliefs. That is, if two people disagree, at least one of them must be wrong. However, these previous studies have focused on unambiguous moral beliefs—moral issues for which there is one “correct answer” about which nearly everyone in a given culture agrees. For example, in the United States (and most other places!), nearly everyone thinks that it is good to share with someone and wrong to pull someone’s hair.

We wondered whether children might reason similarly about moral beliefs that are a little more ambiguous. Continue reading

Life Lessons from Children in PlaySpace

Emily Meiji Yue

Boston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. Look for articles each month about these researchers’ work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, and about how children learn in the Museum, here is a reflection from Emily, a researcher at MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab:

As an undergraduate researcher at MIT’s Play Lab, I have the pleasure of working with children 1-2 years old at the Museum. In my particular study, I’m looking at what children assume about a group of objects based on what they know about just a small sample of that group. Week after week, as I roam PlaySpace looking for children to participate in my study and enlighten me to the intricacies of their developing minds, I love seeing children enthusiastically exploring the world around them with a curiosity that seems to dwarf mine in comparison. Continue reading

Play and Problem Solving

Mika MaedaBoston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. Look for articles each month about these researchers’ work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, and about how children learn in the Museum, here is some information from Mika, a researcher at MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab, about how children build skills through play:

Children are problem solvers: their actions reflect their learning about the world. In some ways they are like scientists, using their curiosity and creativity as well as logic to make new discoveries.

So what does this have to do with the power of play? Continue reading

Students and Teachers : Research at Boston Children’s Museum

Leah LessardBoston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices. Look for articles each month about these researchers’ work, their reflections and themselves. As part of our continuing series sharing details about research happening at Boston Children’s Museum, here is some information about the work being conducted by Leah, from MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab:

My research at Boston Children’s Museum is focused on the topic of teaching and learning. I am working on two projects. One asks child participants to teach others, and another asks them to evaluate teachers.

Previous research has shown that children have certain expectations of teachers. One is about quality: children expect teachers to provide true, but not false information (pretty straightforward!). Another is about quantity: children expect teachers to provide just the right amount of information, rather than too little or too much, for the learner to make accurate inferences. It’s easy to imagine how skipping or leaving out information might confuse students and even lead them to get the wrong idea (note: we have studies showing that children as young as 5-6 recognize teachers who don’t “tell the whole truth”; Gweon et al., 2011; in review). Continue reading

Play, Play, Discover: Research at Boston Children’s Museum

Faith ObrianBoston Children’s Museum works closely with researchers from local universities to conduct studies into child development, cognition and more; and to translate the latest studies and findings for the general public in order to make a positive impact on parenting practices.  Look for future articles about these researchers’ work, their reflections and themselves.  Our first researcher is Faith, from MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab:

As you’ve browsed through magazines and perused the Internet, you may have come across articles summarizing research studies telling you about the amazing abilities of babies and young children to determine simple probabilities, infer the causes of unseen events, or make moral judgments.  Often those short pieces leave you wondering how the researchers arrived at their spectacular conclusions.  Well, if you’ve ever pondered how we can learn these astounding facts about children, speculate no longer and come experience it for yourself! Continue reading