Thursday, December 31, 2009

DJs for children's play

The athletic club's family new years' night had one gym full of "bouncy" toys, with the usual castles and cage of plastic balls to flounder in--and a DJ playing amusing songs at full volume.

But what do the kids really like? Do they like loud music, or soft, or something else entirely?

This is a job for the psychology department: a student project!

Every week for a couple of semesters hold a kid's fun Saturday afternoon in a gym. Put the same play equipment on both sides, in the same positions. In the middle put chairs for the parents (who are told what the study is about, and asked not to lead the kids one way or another) facing in, and a large "hanging strands" curtain in between. The "curtain" will be fun for kids to run back and forth through, which will randomize the side they eventually wind up on.

On one side put a DJ (one of the psych students) with a sound system angled to put the loudest sound on one side of the room. In other words, one side of the room has the music (or whatever) and the other has much less music volume.

Every ten minutes count the number of kids playing on the "bouncy" equipment on the music and the "quiet" side of the room. Repeat this for several Saturdays, and then change the type of music.

We can't put two kinds of music in the same room without dissonance, and can't separate the rooms because the kids will want to be with their parents. Therefore we can only study degree of loudness preference for various types of music.

Options would include

  • Loud rock
  • Quieter rock
  • Loud pop
  • Quieter pop
  • Loud "kid's music"
  • Quieter "kid's music"
  • Playground noise (kids playing)
  • Lullaby music

If the gym holds about 60 kids at a time and you run the experiment for 5 Saturdays (and we ignore the fact that some kids will come repeatedly) we get 300 measurements. You'd expect some fraction to be with their parents or running through the curtain--so say 200 are in the bouncy play areas. An even split would be 100 on each side (if they have no preference), so you should be able to measure preferences at the 10% level or better.

I'm not sure how much this would cost: gym space plus equipment rental plus fabricating the curtain plus music fees...

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Blogger Is Autism Treatable? said...

This sounds like an interesting worthwhile experiment to find out what children prefer while playing.

Is Autism a Genetic Flaw?

February 25, 2010 at 9:22 PM  

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