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Researchers and Kids Work Together to Create Scientific Article on Hearing Research


girl with glasses

Friday, October 9, 2020

Imagine if kids were offered the opportunity to give input and ask questions for a scientific journal.

Boys Town researchers Angela AuBuchon, Ph.D., and Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Director of Research, are doing just that in a similar manner with the publication Frontiers for Young Minds, which offers a unique approach to do this in a scientific journal that is aimed at young audiences. What makes it remarkable is that this journal emulates other peer-reviewed scientific publications, but with kids serving alongside scientist mentors as the editors and reviewers of submitted papers.

In their article, When Choosing NOT to Listen Helps You Hear and Learn, Dr. AuBuchon and Dr. McCreery explain the science of sound and perception related to their research. Kids learn that decibels (dB) are the scale that scientist use to quantify sound levels. They learn things about the anatomy inside the ear that turn sound waves into information signals that the brain understands, and they learn the parts of the brain that allow us to understand and pay attention to the sounds that matter to us.

The researchers also present a piece of data in the article that shows one area where science is helping to improve hearing experience for kids and adults with hearing loss. Our brains help us focus on someone speaking, as kids must do in the classroom, even when surrounding noises could distract from or distort the speaker. For children with hearing loss, it is harder to separate a speaker from a noisy background as is shown in their article. The figure itself, can be found in the article, and serves as an example for the reviewers and readers of how to present data in a quickly understandable visual summary.

To complete the article, kids review the submission with their own scientific mentors. The young reviewers asked their questions and offered suggestions to Dr. AuBuchon and Dr. McCreery in the same way that scientific peers would review papers in other journals. According to Dr. AuBuchon, “This is a really great opportunity for our researchers to work with the kids to create educational scientific content. They learn about the scientific process and we have the privilege to help develop the next generation of scientists that will continue the pursuit of new knowledge."

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, families in search of educational materials for home have also discovered this article, and the Frontiers for Young Minds journal. Dr. McCreery and Dr. AuBuchon have been contacted by some of these families and are happy to learn that they are using the content as an enrichment activity with their kids. This is exactly what we would hope for and it is possible because the Frontiers for Young Minds article is also open access, so anyone can read it!

Boys Town National Research Hospital is a global leader in hearing research and works extensively with children with a range of hearing needs. It regularly communicates technical findings through a variety of professional research and clinical publications. The hospital also works to provide educational content that is accessible to patients and families.​


  1. AuBuchon A. and McCreery R. (2020) When Choosing NOT to Listen Helps You Hear and Learn. Front. Young Minds. 8:104. doi: 10.3389/frym.2020.00104

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