Conversations in Science Series
A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District
and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center

Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonderegger Science Center (Click here for parking information)
1000 Edgewood College Drive Madison, Wisconsin

Professor Lewis Leavitt
Department of Pediatrics
University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Out of the Mouths of Babes:
How We Can Learn What Babies and Children Know”

The Conversations in Science Series brings together UW-Madison researchers and Dane County teachers in order to foster significant connections. Now in its 10th year, the Series is designed to provide personal enrichment to teachers in a wide range of areas related to science, technology and society, and to enable researchers and educators to share their expertise with the Dane County community.


Educators play a formative role in child development during the school years---but lots of child development has been taking place before children arrive at school. What do we know about the skills of very young children and how do we know it? This talk will review some of child development research of interest to educators such as early language and social development and examine how this research can be helpful to classroom teachers.


Lewis Leavitt is a Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. For many years he was coordinator of the Social and Affective Processes Research Unit and Medical Director of the Waisman Center on Human Development and Mental Retardation. His research interests include early language development in typical and atypically developing children and the development of parent-infant communication. His publications include work on infant speech perception, children’s language play, language development in children with Down Syndrome and the role of parental expectations in determining parent-child interaction. His research has used physiologic responses such as heart rate, skin conductance and eye-blink to study neuro-developmental and behavioral phenomena. In recent years he has also done research on the psychological effects of violence on children and studied media interventions to enhance mutual respect in children of different ethnic groups. His recent publications include the edited books: Psychological Effects of War and Violence on Children, Improving Communication in Children with Down Syndrome and The Role of Early Experience in Development. As a clinician involved in evaluating young children with developmental disabilities, Dr. Leavitt has been active in efforts to translate research into clinical practice. He has worked extensively with parent groups on public education about child development. For many years he led an interdisciplinary training program at the Waisman Center for pre- and post-doctoral physicians, nurses and allied health workers in the field of Child Development and Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Leavitt received his B.S. in Mathematics and M.D. degree from the University of Chicago. He did post-doctoral fellowships in neonatology and psychophysiology at the University of Wisconsin.

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