HDFS Researchers Meet Families at Senator's Kid's Fun Fair

Current and former students from Penn State Brandywine joined Senator Dominic Pileggi's fifth annual Kids' Fun Fair to engage with local families and discuss their research on child development on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Sun Valley High School in Aston. Two current students and one alumna accompanied Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Jennifer Zosh to represent the campus' new Brandywine Child Development Lab (BCDL), where they explore how young children learn.

Senior Lisa DeCecco, of Secane; junior T'Chell Looby, of Media; and 2011 HDFS graduate Laura Twiss-Garrity, of Pottstown, conduct research on cognitive development in the lab alongside Zosh. They have developed games that explore what kids know about objects, numbers and language, and invite local parents with young children to participate.

Zosh said she was thrilled her students had the opportunity to interact with families at the fair. "I think the experience helped my students get a sense of what is important to parents and what issues today's families are facing," she said. "The students were able to talk to parents about how the work we do in our lab forms the foundation for the things they read in parenting magazines or on blogs. Parents often wonder about the best ways to teach their children or what in the world is going on in the head of their small child. Research done in laboratories such as the BCDL helps to uncover these secrets. One of the things I am most passionate about is opening the lines of communication between the scientists in the laboratory and the families in the communities, so this was a particularly important event. We're becoming a part of a network of organizations that promote child development in Delaware County and beyond."

Looby and DeCecco are both HDFS majors who work in the lab as part of a required independent research option within in the program. Looby's research focuses on word learning in young children, while DeCecco concentrates on early memory development. Twiss-Garrity worked in the lab as an undergraduate and currently volunteers her time studying the development of number knowledge in young children while applying for graduate school.

"I think the event was a great platform for the Brandywine Child Development Lab to put its name out there to get not only local families but also politicians and local organizations interested," Twiss-Garrity said. "The research we'll be doing in the lab looks at how children learn about the world around them. The types of questions that we look to answer impact all children, so it's important that these local families help us find the answers."

Visit http://bit.ly/q5yOFN to read a Brandywine Blog post written by Twiss-Garrity about her thoughts on the experience. Visit http://bcdl.bw.psu.edu/ for more information on the Brandywine Child Development Lab.

Photo caption: Senior Lisa DeCecco (left), alumna Laura Twiss-Garrity (middle) and junior T'Chell Looby (right) attended Senator Pileggi's Kid's Fun Fair to talk with local families about opportunities to participate in the research they conduct in the Penn State Brandywine Child Development Lab