Phipps’ Featured Scientist of the Week: Dr. Audrey Kittredge
If you frequent the conservatory you may have seen signs from time to time inviting guests to participate in research being conducted by local scientists. Well the scientist behind that research, and often the signs themselves, is Dr. Audrey Kittredge of Carnegie Mellon University's Psychology Department. Dr. Kittredge is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research at Carnegie Mellon University as well as a member of Professor David Klahr's "Discovery Process Lab," and has been conducting research with Phipps visitors since 2013.
Dr. Kittredge's research seeks to understand the mechanisms of learning in early childhood and in her work she probes children's independent, scientific problem-solving in playful activities, and invetigates how it is shaped by interactions with adults. The overall goal of her research is to help us understand how children develop and how to design new educational interventions for early childhood.
This past Saturday, Dr. Kittredge took a break from collecting data to speak with visitors about her work at our second "Ask a Scientist" Public Program. During this brief two hour program, several adults and children stopped by the Tropical Forest Palm Circle with inquiries as well as just for the sake of curiosity. Our visitors were not the only ones that were excited about our "Ask a Scientist" series, however. After this Saturday's public program had come to a close Dr. Kittredge had this to share, “I had an eye-opening experience engaging with the public to discuss our lab’s research as part of the 'Ask a Scientist' series. I never realized how much enjoyment one can get from sharing the results of our research with museum visitors, or how challenging it is to truly educate visitors about our work and its significance. I want so much to learn how to be an even better educator and advocate for research on children’s learning. Even before this experience I was interested in outreach, but now I’m in love with it!"
While Dr. Kittredge's next visit to the conservatory will be for scientific purposes, she and the "Discovery Process Lab" members are always be more than happy to speak with visitors about their research and collaboration with Phipps. And if you're lucky, they just might ask you to participate in one of their studies!