MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab summer internship

The Early Childhood Cognition Lab at MIT, under the direction of Dr. Laura Schulz, invites applications from motivated undergraduates for a summer research internship focusing on conducting research with children online.


Lookit (https://lookit.mit.edu) is a bold new approach to studying how children learn.  Instead of recruiting families to come in to the lab, we've developed a website where families can participate at any time by doing a quick activity in their web browser.  Video is recorded via webcam and streamed back to our lab.  We're starting by replicating several classic studies in developmental psychology, on topics ranging from early comprehension of grammatical categories to intuitive understanding of probability.  

The broader vision is of a citizen-science partnership framework that lowers the barriers to participating in research about development both for families and for researchers.  Online studies can make it easier for single, low-income, and rural parents to take part in research, thereby representing a more diverse population; allow researchers outside of historically specialized labs to work with special populations (e.g. children with developmental disorders or unusual language backgrounds); make longitudinal designs and repeated measures in individual children feasible; and increase transparency, replicability, and communication to the public.  

As a research assistant on the Lookit project, you will work with a mentor to select an independent project which may focus on developing a new feature or improving the framework of the site; designing, pilot testing, and programming a new study; or analysis of an existing dataset.  You will also be responsible for helping to analyze data from online participants by watching videos of children's participation and recording their responses (primarily verbal responses from preschoolers, looking measures from infants and toddlers).

This position is selective but we encourage applications from freshmen and those without prior research experience.  Preference given to students with either web programming (at least HTML, CSS, Javascript) or python experience, or serious interest in learning to program during the summer.

Full-time commitment preferred; timing is flexible with a stipend of $5000 for a 10-week period (housing not provided).

Contact Kim Scott (kimscott@mit.edu) with any questions about the position!  To apply, please include two informal references (name and contact information of someone you’ve worked with, e.g. a previous supervisor, mentor, teacher/professor, or TA), a sample of any code you’ve written, and a short (one-paragraph) description of a question you think an online developmental lab is well-suited to answer.  Applications will be considered through March 15th.