The CEHD Rising Alumni award recognizes alumni who have achieved early distinction in their career (15 years or less since graduation), demonstrated emerging leadership, or shown exceptional volunteer service in their communities.
Boettcher currently serves as program director of Caring for Kids at Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners, where she is working to close the opportunity gap and provide access to high quality early education programs for children living in poverty. In her role, she partners with school districts and community agencies to increase investment in early learning.
“We are so pleased to see Rachel’s important work in securing high quality early childhood programming for families at risk recognized by CEHD,” said Ann Ruhl Carlson, M.Ed., coordinator of early childhood programs in ICD. “Throughout her budding career, she has used what she learned and practiced during her undergraduate and graduate programs in early childhood education to make a difference in the world.”
For the symposium, which was co-hosted by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, ICD faculty and staff presented cutting-edge research on play and discussed why it is critical to child development.
Presentations covered topics including play’s impact on a child’s understanding of math, how play influences the development of executive function, and how the Children’s Theatre Company is incorporating research into a preschool storytelling program. Each presentation was followed by a play-based activity that asked participants to explore what they learned.
Experts from the Minnesota Children’s Museum also provided a sneak peek of their new facility and exhibits, which will open to the public on June 7.
To learn more about why play is critical to learning and child development, read the following articles from Connect, the College of Education and Human Development’s alumni magazine.
“The power of play:” Play is essential for learning and growing, but it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. New research is changing that.
“Play lab:” Children lead at the U’s laboratory preschool
Sydney Carlson, a senior majoring in child psychology in the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded a Fulbright-related U.S. teaching assistantship by the Austrian government.
Carlson is among 13 students and alumni from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to be awarded a Fulbright grant during the 2017-18 academic year.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to promote international good will through the exchange of students and scholars. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries.
The fellowship will support Smolinski’s summer research project, which will examine differences in how mothers imagine their unborn child and their relationship with the child, as well as how family planning may be associated with these differences. The project will leverage data from the Women and Infants Study of Health, Emotions, and Stress (WISHES), a study led by ICD doctoral student Colleen Doyle. Smolinski will be mentored by Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., director of the Institute.
Madelyn Labella, a Ph.D. candidate in the Institute of Child Development, has been selected to receive a P.E.O. Scholar Award. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. Labella was nominated for the P.E.O. Scholar Award by Chapter R of St. Paul, Minn., and was one of 100 doctoral students from across the U.S. and Canada selected to receive a $15,000 scholarship.
Jason Wolff, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, was recently featured in a Spectrum article about his research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants whose older siblings have autism. Wolff worked with a national team of researchers, including Jed Elison from the Institute for Child Development, on the study. Wolff and colleagues found that the development of specific brain circuits may predict the severity of repetitive and sensory behaviors in infants who later develop autism.
In the article, Spectrum explains, “repetitive behaviors, such as hand flapping, are a cardinal sign of autism”, and “children with these severe repetitive behaviors often also have unusual sensory features, such as sensitivities to sounds or textures or an insensitivity to pain.”
Wolff expands on this. “They both (repetitive behaviors and unusual sensory features) seem to share a similar relationship with underlying neural circuitry,” he says.
This year, ASF awarded three pre-doctoral and six post-doctoral fellowship grants to student and mentor teams conducting research in deep brain stimulation, gene and environmental interactions, epigenetics, pain response, neurobiology, and sex differences in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“Each of the projects selected for funding has the potential to improve the lives of people with autism,” said Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer. “We are pleased to support the work of this impressive group of young scientists and look forward to the progress that will be made as a result of their efforts.”
For her research, Sharer will examine the female protective effect in infants with ASD. Four times as many boys as girls are diagnosed with autism, and evidence suggests a “female protective effect” as one explanation for the sex bias.
Sharer’s study will be the first study to investigate the female protective effect in infants who show behaviors of concern, compared with those who develop typically and those who are later diagnosed with ASD. Sharer will be mentored by ICD Assistant Professor Jed Elison, Ph.D.
C&NN aims to connect children, families, and communities to nature through innovative ideas and evidence-based resources. The theme for the 2017 conference was, “Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids.”
During the conference, Williams Ridge spoke about tailoring outdoor learning opportunities to children’s specific developmental needs, depending on their age. She also moderated a panel about best practices for nature-based learning in the early childhood field.
A recent article in CE+HD Connect magazine discussed research by the Center for Early Education and Development that is examining the effectiveness of a children’s theater program. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.
Early Bridges is a preschool theater arts outreach program developed by the Minneapolis-based Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). Early Bridges aims to build early literacy through interactive storytelling and theater arts.
Through a research collaboration with CTC, CEED evaluates Early Bridges’ impact, such as whether students show improvement in certain areas. CEED also has helped develop new measures and rubrics for the program, which incorporate both theater arts and child development theory.
The Shirley G. Moore Lab School in the Institute of Child Development was profiled in a recent article in CE+HD Connect magazine, which highlighted the school’s focus on play-based learning. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.
Psychology Day at the UN is an annual event that highlights how psychological science and practice contribute to the UN agenda. It’s attended by UN staff, ambassadors and diplomats, non-governmental organizations, members of the public and private sectors, and other stakeholders.
This year’s theme was “Promoting Well-being in the 21st Century: Psychological Contributions for Social, Economic, and Environmental Challenges.” The topic was chosen to align with the inclusion of well-being in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015 and outlines the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In her remarks, Masten addressed the economic pillar by discussing her research on competence, risk, and resilience in development.
MnAEYC is a professional association devoted to representing early child care and youth programs across Minnesota. The annual award recognizes an early childhood professional who demonstrates excellence in his or her profession.
In 2005, Thompson started his career at the lab school, where he completed his student teaching experience and held various roles for the following two years. He has been a full-time lead teacher for the school’s multi-age morning preschool class since 2007.
Research conducted by faculty in the Institute of Child Development (ICD) is demonstrating the importance of play for learning, according to a new article in CE+HD’s Connect magazine. The story is one of three articles about play that appear in the magazine’s Spring/Summer 2017 issue.
The article highlighted a recent study by Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in ICD, and colleagues that examined the “Batman Effect,” or how impersonating superheroes during pretend play can help children be more controlled and objective.
The piece also discussed how experts at the Minnesota Children’s Museum are incorporating ICD research into their exhibit and experience designs. The university is part of a research advisory committee for the museum.