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.