One family's visit to the Baby Lab

Oct. 1, 2015 noon

This was my 2-year-old's experience at the Princeton Baby Lab. Meet two new friends. Visit a new place. Play with some cool toys. Watch a video sitting on Dad's lap. Get a fun book and a cool T-shirt!

That's pretty much what it was like for me, too, but as a parent I also especially appreciated the front-door parking on campus.

I had signed up to learn more about my daughter participating in research studies at the new lab during a visit to the Princeton Farmers Market a few weeks before. Some brief phone calls later, Julia and I had an appointment for a Thursday afternoon.

We pulled into a reserved parking spot near the door of Peretsman Scully Hall and were met by Alissa Wagner, a member of the Class of 2016 who works as an undergraduate research assistant in the lab. She walked us up to the lab, which is brightly decorated and full of books and toys.

There we met graduate student Jessie Schwab, who was conducting the study Julia was participating in. While Wagner and Julia played nearby, Schwab explained the study and had me sign a consent form. Julia would watch objects coming across the screen and the researchers would record how she reacted to prompts from a recorded voice.

Within a few minutes, Julia was sitting on my lap in front of a big TV. The only odd thing about it was I was wearing blackout glasses so I wouldn't influence what Julia did as she watched the screen.

Maybe five minutes later, we were done. Julia got a Baby Lab T-shirt — her new favorite piece of clothing — and picked out a Jack and the Beanstalk book. I got $10 for participating in this research and a new appreciation for how easy and fun it can be to help advance science. Total time from arrival to departure: 35 minutes.