Below is a list of projects and places in the UK that need participants to contribute to scientific research related to babies and toddlers. These range from citizen science projects in which volunteers actively collect information themselves, to university-based research labs looking for people to participate in experiments (these often involve something as simple as playing a game while researchers observe what happens, or filling out a questionnaire).
Please note that unless indicated otherwise, Science from the Start is not connected to the projects and organisations listed and is not responsible for the content of external sites or operations of external organisations. The information given below is not exhaustive and is subject to change.
To add to or update opportunities listed here, please send information via the contact page. Thanks!
Citizen science projects
Nappy Science Gang
A citizen science project (volunteers ask questions, then come up with and carry out experiments to answer them) for reusable nappy users who have questions they’d like to answer using science – from best washing routines to wondering whether cloth-nappies affect babies’ walking. You don’t have to be science-minded, just open-minded. Join in and become a cloth-bum detective.
(Please note that Laura, who runs Science from the Start, is also the science co-ordinator for Nappy Science Gang).
Opportunities to participate in and contribute to infant-based research with babies and toddlers.
http://www.babylovesscience.com – a website run by Dr Elena Hoicka of the University of Sheffield, which allows parents to learn about their children’s development, whilst contributing to science. More information can be found here.
Aston Brain Centre, Birmingham – the scientists at the Brain Centre are interested in understanding how the brain works in health and disease, from the developing child brain through to the ageing brain. For more information about taking part, please see their volunteering page.
Birkbeck, University of London – researchers at the Birkbeck Babylab want to better understand how babies learn and develop, particularly during the first 2 years of life. For more information about their research and how to take part, please see their website. If you would like to learn more about research on babies and children with Down’s syndrome at Birkbeck, and to get involved, please visit the research page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Durham University – researchers at the Durham University Parent-Infant Sleep Lab examine various aspects of infant and child sleep and parenting behaviour. For information about current projects, please see here.
Lancaster University – Lancaster University Babylab researchers work to find out how babies learn to understand the world around them, become active and understanding partners in social interactions, and master language. For more information about the research, what happens during a typical visit and how to sign up, please see here. The department also has a Facebook page. (Please note that Science from the Start has run an activity session at Lancaster Babylab, and Laura, who runs Science from the Start, has taken part in studies there. However, Science from the Start and Lancaster Babylab are not officially linked in any way).
Oxford Brookes University – at the Oxford Brookes University Babylab, a team of dedicated researchers investigate current issues in Developmental Psychology, studying how children learn about the world around them. For more information about the Babylab, current studies and how to register, please visit their website.
Plymouth University – researchers at Plymouth University Baby Lab specialise in the study of language development, social development, mental imagery and memory. For more information and to register to take part, please see their website.
Royal Holloway, University of London – researchers at the Royal Holloway Baby Lab investigate development of cognitive abilities during infancy, including memory and thinking. Further information about the Baby Lab and opportunities to get involved can be found here.
University College London – the London Babylab is for parents and guardians of children under the age of 6 who enjoy science and want to know more about how their babies develop. Please see here for information about how to find out more.
University of Birmingham – researchers at the University of Birmingham Infant and Child Laboratory study a variety of questions about infants’ and young children’s developing minds and brains. Further information about the researchers, projects and how to get involved can be accessed from here.
University of Cambridge – researchers at the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit are investigating a range of questions related to infant development. For more information about current studies and how to participate, visit their website.
University of East London – projects here cover a range of topics relating to infant and child development. For more information, please see the University of East London IRCD BabyLab website.
University of Essex – researchers at the University of Essex Babylab study the development of perceptual and cognitive abilities in infants and children. They also research language development in children in collaboration with the Little Language Learners Lab, also at the University of Essex. More information is available here.
University of Lincoln – the Lincoln Babylab conducts studies to find out about what babies know about the world, and how they think and learn to speak. They are also undertaking research into dog bite prevention. For more information and to register to participate, visit their website.
University of Liverpool – researchers at the Child Language Study Centre study many different aspects of language acquisition including how much young children understand about the language they hear around them, why children produce errors in their early speech, and when children, like adults, can judge sentences to be grammatical or ungrammatical. In some of their projects, they work with families with pre-school children. You can find more information about current research here and details of how to get involved here.
University of Manchester – research at the Child Study Centre focuses on early language development in typically developing children. You can find all the information you need to take part in studies here.
University of Oxford – Oxford BabyLab researchers investigate language and cognitive development during infancy, with a particular emphasis on concept and vocabulary acquisition. They usually undertake eye-tracking studies with children from 3 months to 3 years old. Further information about all aspects of the BabyLab and its research can be accessed from their website; the department also has a Facebook page.
University of Reading – the Child Development Group in the School of Pyschology and Clinical Language Sciences have several labs which they use to investigate various aspects of child development. They have dedicated parent and child pages which can be accessed here for further information.
University of Sheffield – the Sheffield Cognitive Development group research areas such as development of childhood thinking skills, memory, language and communication. You can find out more about their studies and how to take part in them here.
University of Surrey – The Surrey Baby Lab was set up in 2000 to investigate how babies and toddlers see colour. For more information about the researchers, current projects and how to take part, see their website.
University of Sussex – The Sussex Baby Lab is investigating how babies and children aged between 4 months and 4 years see colours. More information is available here. Researchers at the WORD Lab study how children learn and reason about words and objects and need children aged between 2 and 4 years to take part.