Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Com­mu­nity - UC Merced Con­nect is a col­lec­tion of news items writ­ten by the cam­pus’s Pub­lic Re­la­tions team. To con­tact the team, email PR@ucmerced.edu.

of a large-scale, na­tional study fo­cus­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of young children.

The Play and Learn­ing Across a Year (PLAY) project in­volves 65 re­searchers across the United States and Canada and is funded by a $6 mil­lion grant from the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health.

The re­searchers will study be­hav­iors of more than 900 Amer­i­can in­fants and moth­ers in their homes to build a firstof-its-kind body of data on de­vel­op­men­tal top­ics from lan­guage, move­ment and ges­tures to gen­der, ob­ject play and emo­tion.

“This project is in­cred­i­bly am­bi­tious, but it is the type of col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search that has the po­ten­tial to be im­pact­ful for the field for decades to come,” Walle said.

UC Merced was specif­i­cally cho­sen as one of 30 na­tional data col­lec­tion sites be­cause it is unique among most other col­lege towns in terms of racial and so­cioe­co­nomic di­ver­sity, Walle said. He and his stu­dents will re­cruit 12-, 18- and 24month-old children from the Merced com­mu­nity and visit the fam­i­lies in their homes.

“We’ll ob­serve one hour of the in­fant and par­ent ‘in the wild’ — that is, sim­ply do­ing what­ever it is they do,” he ex­plained. “The ob­ser­va­tion will also in­clude some struc­tured play­time be­tween the par­ent and child with a set of toys that will be the same across all test­ing sites.”

All the re­searchers will col­lect doc­u­men­ta­tion such as par­ent re­port ques­tion­naires, video tours of the homes, dig­i­tal record­ings of am­bi­ent noises, de­tailed de­mo­graph­ics and more.

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