Study #1 at a Glance

Filed under: by: Aaron Price on Monday, September 19, 2011 @ 11:28 PM

Our research consists primarily of two main studies.

The first is an experimental study involving a few hundred children at the Living Laboratory in the Museum of Science, Boston. The LL is a neat space. It is setup for cognitive researchers to conduct small-scale experiments with children in the presence of their parents. The researcher is required to be present and must explain their research to the parent while the child is occupied by the experiment. The goal of the LL is to educate the public as to how scientific research is done – and what better way than to show them an authentic experiment underway in front of their own eyes?

I am going to setup an Alioscopy stereoscopic display of around 22”. This is a glasses-free display running on an OS X computer. We will write a slide show program (in java) that will randomly show the child 2D and 3D slides of highly spatial scientific objects (clouds, mountains, crystals, etc.). We will give them an iPad to answer questions about spatial properties of the slides. Questions may be like “which tree is further, the black or brown one?” or “how many clouds do you see in this picture?” The last item will be a drawing task where we ask them to draw something they saw from memory using their fingers. This item will be graded not by accuracy but by the number of spatial elements they include.

Before the slide show begins, they will be given 5-10 spatial cognition questions to help establish a rough measure of prior spatial ability. We will be using items from previously published tests that involve tasks like mentally folding pieces of paper.

While the experiment is underway, I will talk to the parents and will ask them about how much experience their child may have with computers, video games and 3D videos.

We will be looking mainly at differences in accuracy between the 2D and 3D visualizations. We’ll use ANCOVAs to see if any differences are related to prior spatial ability, gender or age. This is a relatively straightforward experimental design (which is the way I like it for early studies!). We will pilot test it this summer and there may be a lot of changes, so this is all in flux. We hope to begin taking data next fall for a 3-month period. If you are in Boston – stop by!

I’ll describe the 2nd study in the follow up post. It’s the sexier of the two since it involves making High-Definition stereoscopic movies. ☺