Salem Kids Learning Lab

Interested in Participating? Sign up (Google Form)

Who We Are

Dr. Katharine Blackwell
Dr. Katharine Blackwell

The Kids’ Learning Lab is run through Salem College’s Department of Psychology by Dr. Katharine Blackwell.

Students who are interested in child psychology create projects that explore children’s social and cognitive development. All projects are conducted under Dr. Blackwell’s supervision with approval from Salem’s Institutional Review Board. Your participation allows Salem’s Psychology majors to learn about research and complete senior theses.

What We Do

Jonna helps Macie explore with Legos.
Jonna helps Macie explore with Legos.

Our projects explore how children develop from birth through 12 years. Specific projects vary depending on student interest, but we investigate questions like…

  • When do babies realize that toys still exist even when they're out of sight?
  • How do toddlers figure out the rules of language?
  • When do preschoolers learn that other people have different feelings?
  • How can we help children regulate their behavior?

What A Visit Is Like

When we have a project in your child's age-range, we'll call you to arrange a visit. Most of the time, we invite children to come to our child-friendly room in the Science Building on Salem’s campus. We have a play area where children can get used to the room and any students they will play with, while parents read and sign a permission form.

Salem Kids Learning Lab.
Macie plays in the Kids Learning Lab.

All the tasks we want children to complete are age-appropriate, and we try to make them fun as well. With infants, we might play hide-and-seek by placing toys at different places for the infant to find. With toddlers, we might ask them to answer questions by pointing to pictures or choosing from a handful of toys placed on a table. Preschoolers will often be asked to sort pictures into different stacks, and to listen to stories about everyday events and answer questions. Older children usually play with a touch-screen computer, where they must remember images they've seen or make quick decisions about how to respond.

Visits usually last between 15 minutes an 1 hour, depending on the child's age, but you are free to stop any time you or your child would like to. Children receive a small prize, such as a book or small toy, whenever they are done with their visits. Parents will receive a complete explanation of what we're exploring at the end of the visit, and each year we mail out a newsletter describing what we have found in that year's projects.

How We Work

When students start projects we look for volunteer families with children in that age range. If your child is in the age range, we will call you to arrange a brief visit at your convenience.

If we cannot find a time that works for you, or if you and your child are not interested in that project, we will call you later when we have another project. If you decide you no longer want to hear about projects at any time, we will remove your family from our list.

Interested in Participating? Sign up (Google Form)

Get In Touch

To contact the Kids Learning Lab with any questions, email, or call (336) 721-2811. You can sign up your family, or update your contact information, through our Google Form.