Science Homework

Science Homework

Like Jonas Salk, who injected his children with his polio vaccine, a new generation of scientists is using its own children for its research.

Other researchers have studied their own children in the past — Jonas Salk injected his children with his polio vaccine — but sophisticated technology allows modern-day scientists to collect new and more detailed data. Scientists also say that studying their children allows for more in-depth research and that the children make reliable participants in an era of scarce research funding.

Deborah Linebarger, a developmental psychologist who directs the Children’s Media Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, has involved her four children in her studies of the effect of media on children.

Deb Roy, at M.I.T., embedded 11 video cameras and 14 microphones in ceilings throughout his house, recording 70 percent of his son’s waking hours for his first three years, amassing 250,000 hours of tape for a language development study he calls the Human Speechome Project.

This New York Times video raises ethical questions about the impact of such home experiments on the child, on the child’s relationship with the parent, and on the objectivity of the researcher and the data.

Length: 6:30

By Pam Belluck, Emily B. Hager, Hilke Schellmann