The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Ohio State research on exhibit at COSI

When you visit Labs in Life at COSI, you’ll see Ohio State student and faculty researchers at work. And you might become part of that work.

This is a place where you and your kids can not only see science in action — but you can be science in action. It’s the Columbus Center of Science and Industry.

Thanks to a collaboration with Ohio State called Labs in Life, university students and faculty can be seen conducting research at COSI in three glass-enclosed pods, where they might call on visitors to participate.

“We actually walk out on the COSI floor and ask, ‘Hey, do you want to do a science experiment?’” said Laura Wagner, the Ohio State professor who heads up the Language Pod. “Then we bring you in and run you as a participant.”


Can you read this? It’s a brain-teaser of a welcome to the COSI Labs in Life language pod, where Ohio State researchers conduct studies, often with the help of COSI visitors.


A young volunteer works with a researcher inside the language pod.

The partners these scientists seek — tots to seniors — depend on the day’s research. Recently, the language team focused on English dialects and, specifically, the age at which people learn to distinguish the different ways people speak.

“We know that adults can do this reasonably well,” Wagner said. “We know that young children are not so good at it. The field isn’t exactly clear on when you learn it.” The researchers, with the help of museumgoers, found that children age 4 or 5 begin to understand that not everyone talks like them. At around 7 or 8, they start to draw distinctions, and at 12 or 13, the make another big improvement.

You can find Wagner’s researchers and all the Labs in Life on level 2 at COSI.