ANN ARBOR—During a recent visit to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Liz Hill and her daughter found themselves unexpectedly participating in a University of Michigan child development research study.

Liz watched intently as her daughter Natalee looked at pictures and answered the researcher's questions.

"You always wonder how much they know," Liz says of her daughter.

When the study concludes, Natalee picks out her thank you toy from a plastic box, and lab manager Merranda McLaughlin explains the study and answers questions for Liz.

The Living Lab is a program in which U-M faculty bring research projects to public spaces so that parents and children can partake in real child development experiments. Currently, Living Lab hosts studies during the week and on weekends at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the U-M Natural History Museum and the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

The idea behind the Living Lab is that science in public spaces benefits everyone, said Craig Smith, Living Lab program director. Young museum and library-goers provide the Living Lab researchers onsite with a steady stream of subjects for child development research—there have been more than 6,000 participants in Living Lab-based studies since 2012.

Children and their parents who participate in the experiments or observe can learn about science and see how scientists conduct research.

Read the full article "Living Lab: Involving kids, parents in real-time child development research" at Michigan News.