Providence Children's Museum - Mind Lab

What is Mind Lab?

Infants and young children are amazing – they are thinking and learning all the time.  Providence Children’s Museum has teamed up with researchers at Brown University and Providence College to explore what our young visitors know and how their understanding develops and changes as they grow.

Who are the Mind Lab researchers?

Mind Lab researchers are developmental psychologists – scientists who study how children's thinking and learning develops.  They are professors, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students from Brown University and Providence College.

Dr. David Sobel is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Psychology at Brown University.  Dr. Sobel and members of his research team at The Causality and Mind Lab study the ways children learn about how things work (cause and effect) and their understanding of how people think and learn.

Dr. Jennifer Van Reet is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Providence College.  Dr. Van Reet and members of her research team at KidThink study how different types of play develops in early childhood and how play is helpful to children’s overall development.

How do the Mind Lab researchers study how children learn?

The researchers are conducting controlled experiments – but you’d never guess it from watching the children in Mind Lab!

Children and their parents chat with the researchers, play specially designed games, look at books and explore some interesting toys.  As scientists, the researchers make observations of a great many children and try to understand how children learn.  They are not testing how ‘smart’ an individual child is – they are looking at how children (in general) think and what they can do at certain stages of development.

Each study is different, but all involve playing.  In general, a session lasts five to 15 minutes, and parents are required to stay with their children at all times while the study is happening.   Parents and children choose whether to participate and may decide to stop at any time. There are no known risks with these types of studies.

How can my child participate in Mind Lab?

Researchers are at the Museum several days a week.  Feel free to call the Museum at (401) 273-5437 to check the schedule.

How can I learn more about how children learn?