Current Projects

Parents and their children can participate in any of the below studies currently running at ECDC.  These are just a few of the studies that are currently underway in our labs.

Our research would not be possible without the generous support of parents with children and students who take part in our projects. If you are interested in participating with your child in our upcoming studies, please enter your details below, and we will be in touch with you when a study becomes available within the age of your child.

Interested in participating, but cannot find a suitable study? Register your interest to be contacted for future research studies. 

(15 to 19 months) How bilingual children learn counting principles

Name of Researcher: Jon Redshaw

Age range of children required for the study: We are interested in testing children aged between 15 and 19 months, who are raised in a bilingual home.

Previous research shows that very young children prefer to listen to correct counting sequences (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) rather than incorrect sequences (e.g., 4, 2, 1, 3). Our project aims to establish whether children who are exposed to multiple languages develop this understanding earlier than monolingual children.

Additional information: Toddlers who often hear more than one language are welcome to participate.


(2 years) Tech, Tots and Bots: How Young Children Learn from Technology and Robots

Name of Researcher: Kristyn Hensby

Age: 22 to 26 months old

Description of Study: Infants and young children growing up in Australia are being increasingly exposed to information presented on electronic devices. Yet we know little about what they learn. This study investigates whether or not 2-year-old children can learn to complete a sequence of actions to build a toy from one of three different sources of instruction: a social robot, a touch screen tablet or a human.

Additional information: Participation in this study will take around 30 minutes with your child. After participating, every child will receive a certificate of appreciation and a prize. If you have any further questions about this study, please call our office on 3365 6323 or send me an email  

(2 to 5 years) Can young children solve a tool-based problem independently?

Name of Researcher: Karri Neldner
Age range of children required for this study: Children from 2 years old to 5 years old
Description of study: Young children often look to their parents and other adults to learn how to solve everyday problems. For example, children are often taught how to use common tools, such as toothbrushes, pencils and cups, from their parents. However, we want to examine the age at which children work out for themselves that a tool might be able to help them solve a problem. For this experiment, children will be given four different puzzle boxes. Each time these puzzle boxes contain a fun sticker or toy inside it. The puzzle box will be presented to the child alongside a tool that will need to be used in order to extract the reward. We want to see at what age children will reliably employ the tool to help them open the box, rather than just relying on their hands or body. This will give us insight into when children’s minds are beginning to assess the physical properties of a tool, and are capable of deciphering why it might be helpful to them.
Additional information: This experiment takes 10-15 minutes. You will be able to observe your child in the room at all times – but please don’t give them any hints on how to solve the problems! We really want to see what their minds are capable of, all on their own. If there are any further questions about this study, please call our office on 3365 6323.

(4 to 5 years) Children’s prosocial behaviour in the face of inequality

Name of Researcher: Kelly Kirkland
Age range of infants required for your study: 4 to 5 year olds
Description of study: Young children are often influenced by what is occurring in their surrounding environment when choosing to engage in prosocial behaviours. By age four, children can recognise when resources are unequal and react accordingly. Recent research has shown that factors such as economic inequality and socioeconomic status can change prosocial behaviours in adults. This study involves presenting your child with a competition where they will have a number of opportunities to receive prizes. This is done in a fun and interactive way alongside several puppet competitors. We are primarily interested in how your child may behave depending on the number of prizes they receive and the division of prizes amongst the puppet competitors. After this competition, your child will engage in a prosocial task, as well as tasks to better understand how your child makes sense of the world around them in response to this competition. The results of this research will further our understanding of the impact that everyday societal inequalities can have on the wider community. This study is specifically designed to be ethical, fun and child-friendly.
Additional information: This experiment takes 30-45 minutes to complete. You will be in the same room as your child at all times – but we do ask that you don’t help or encourage your child throughout! We are interested in how children behave on their own terms. If you have any further questions about this study, please call our office on 3365 6323 or send me an email (

(4 and 6 years) Children’s understanding of supernatural beings

Name of Researchers: Rohan Kapitany, Karri Neldner and Mitchell Green

Age range of children required for this study: Children within three months of their 4th and 6th birthday.

Description of study: We are interested in observing how children’s behavior might change in relation to their understanding of whether they are being watched by another person or think they are alone. In this study, children will be read a story book about a very Friendly Professor, who has the special ability to see inside his testing room at all times.                                  

Children learn about the professor inside this room and then complete some fun science experiments and games of his. They may do so in the company of an experimenter, when alone in the room, or when the Friendly Professor is watching. It is yet unknown whether children will change their behaviour in response to a benevolent presence who is watching, but not physically present, within a room, and how this may differ to when a human experimenter is present in the room as well.

Additional information: This experiment takes 30-40 minutes. You will be able to observe your child at all times through the use of a one-way only mirror (although this needs to be kept a secret from your child until the end of the experiment!). If there are any further questions about this study, please call our office on 3365 6323.


(4 to 6 years) Children's normative learning in tool use

Name of Researcher: Frankie Fong

Age range of children required for the study: 4 to 6 years old.

Description of study:

Different cultural groups develop a vast diversity of problem solving methods that are suited to their living environment and style. When we move to a new environment or cultural group, we may change our usual ways of doing things and trouble ourselves to learn the normative ways (which everyone uses) of the new group. Some hints come from previous research, which has shown that children will involve high-fidelity imitation and adherence/enforcement of normativity in their learning. However, there are instances when the motivation of instrumental functionality is stronger than social motivation to conform with our own group. What I am aiming to investigate is whether children will adopt and learn a normative way of completing a task in a novel setting, or select a more efficient and less effortful way that is readily available.

Additional information: This experiment takes 10-15 minutes. Children will get to watch some demonstrations of tool use and attempt to retrieve stickers out of two apparatuses. If there are any further questions about this study, please call our office on 3365 6323.

(4 to 8 years) Biological concepts in farm and city children

Name of Researcher: Sarah Longbottom

Age range of infants required for your study: 4 to 8 years old

Before children even begin attending school they have begun to develop an understanding about numerous biological concepts including what is inside the body, animals and their ecosystems, life and death, illness, and growth.

Previous research has shown that this knowledge can be influenced by children’s everyday experiences. For example, the child’s cultural group, the type and amount of contact they have with nature and animals, and how their parents talk to them, are all believed to influence children’s biological knowledge.

My project aims to compare farm and city children’s understanding of biological concepts, such as death and animal relations. I am also interested in the possible influences of children’s experiences, and parental communication about death, on the development of this knowledge.

Given that children go through a major shift in conceptual understanding between the ages of 5 and 7, we are recruiting children between 4 and 8 years, and their parents, to take part in this study. We are especially looking for children who live on farms anywhere in Queensland. Parents will be asked to fill in a questionnaire about their children’s experiences and how they talk to their child about death, while children will be interviewed in person at the ECDC. No prior experience with death is required, although children who have experienced a recent loss (within 8-12 months) are not recommended. If you are interested in participating or have any further questions about this study, please send me an email  

(6 to 9 years) Motivating Young Children to Practice

Name of Researcher: Melissa Brinums

Age range of participants: 6 to 9-year-olds

Practice is considered critically important for attaining high levels of performance across many domains, including music and sport.  Previous research reveals that children as young as 6 years old understand the importance of practice for improving skills and will start to practise skills on their own without guidance from adults.  Nevertheless, practice can be repetitive and difficult and young children may not yet have the cognitive control necessary to persist with practice for very long.  Many parents report that they struggle to motivate their children to practice.  In this study, we are investigating ways in which we can increase children’s motivation to practise skills.

Participation involves one 25-min session.  Your child will be presented with a range of motor-skill games and we are interested in whether children are motivated to practise the games without any prompting. 

Any additional information about your study:  Your child will be asked to play alone in a room for up to 5 min and during this time you can watch your child through a one-way mirror.  We include a bell in the room, which your child can use to call us back at any time.  Aside from this 5-min period, you can remain with your child throughout the study.  To participate in this study email Melissa