The Little Scientist Lab
Welcome to the little scientist lab! We are a child development research lab at Griffith University's School of Applied Psychology, led by Dr. Kristyn Sommer.
The Little Scientist Philosophy
Small humans are brimming with brilliance that is often misrepresented as bad or silly behaviour. In the little scientist lab we see the genius behind the small face with bright little eyes with a passion to explore the world. When your little scientist digs their hands into their milk, they're testing a hypothesis about the way the world works (even though most of us just see the mess that experiment will create). In the little scientist lab, we want to know what kids know and how they know it. They can't always tell us, so one of our hardest jobs is to design games that are fun for kids which also tell us what's going on inside their mind. When your child joins us for a game, we hope that you can watch in wonder and awe at the brilliance of your little scientist.
What type of research do you do?
This lab is run by Dr. Kristyn Sommer and as such, it is a combination of projects that run through her research streams. Kristyn's primary research field is child-robot interaction. Yes, you read that right. We work with robots and children, a truly challenging combination! Kristyn is exploring how children learn from social robots compared to more traditional digital media (such as iPads) and the gold standard (humans, of course). For a 3-minute primer of the main stream of research conducted in the little scientist lab, watch Kristyn's national award-winning science communication video on her work. In addition to children's learning from social robots, we also explore how children and adults perceive and reason about social robots, helping to chart a plan for a future when robotic technologies are more enmeshed in our society.
Kristyn's secondary research stream explores the effects of social media on parenting. Kristyn has a thriving social media science communication platform where she educates everyday parents on the science behind parenting and child development. She has observed the many interesting interactions between parents and the content posted on social media during her time on social media. These observations as well as a passion for parenting have led Kristyn to construct a second research stream which is currently in its infancy.
Where do you conduct your research?
The little scientist lab is based on the Gold Coast Campus of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. We conduct research in person on campus, in daycares and schools around the wider Gold Coast area and online through surveys, reaching parents all around the world. If you'd like to participate in a study and you are a Gold Coast resident, you can sign up to join the little scientist database. If you are outside of the Gold Coast and would like to participate in our research, you can head to our current research page and see whether we are conducting any online research that matches you and your child!