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Play as a field for research

April 26, 2016

Creativity, engagement and lifelong learning are three key focal points for PLAYTrack, a new research project at the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University in Denmark. The project is funded by the LEGO Foundation, which is supporting this collaborative venture with a sum amounting to DKK 12 million. Over the coming five-year period, the Interacting Minds Centre will work closely with the LEGO Foundation on developing new methods to investigate and document how play supports learning.

"Play is a vital part of human interaction. Archaeological finds and historical evidence tell us that play has always existed, in all forms of human society. All indications are that play is important for human beings and for the development of our civilisation, but we lack knowledge about what it actually does for our development and our interactions with each other. That is what makes play such an interesting field of research," says Andreas Roepstorff, head of the Interacting Minds Centre.

"The LEGO Foundation aims to investigate what characterises play and how play supports children's learning and skills. The Interacting Minds Centre is interesting in this respect because it has built up a unique, interdisciplinary and international research environment for experimental studies of human interactions," explains the Global Head of Research in the LEGO Foundation, Bo Stjerne Thomsen.

Model for cooperation between foundation, university and the private sector

PLAYTrack will work closely with the LEGO Foundation's international network of researchers and programmes. At the same time, PLAYTrack supports a new Play User Lab in Billund, Denmark, at which SMEs active in the fields of play, learning and creativity have the opportunity to engage in a strongly professional environment. Play User Lab is run by Capital of Children, while Design School Kolding facilitates the creative processes in the project.

"PLAYTrack hopes to contribute to the development of the environment surrounding the Play User Lab, and we look forward to engaging in an exchange of knowledge with companies working in this field. The meeting between method, theory and real creative processes in interaction with children is a new and exciting assignment for us as a research body," declares Andreas Roepstorff.
About the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation wants to create a new approach to learning and child development, in which play is a key element. The Foundation's main objective is therefore to create an understanding of the importance of play, and how learning takes place through play. The objective is to support parents, teachers and education systems in the use of play as a catalyst to create high-quality learning for millions of children worldwide.

About the Interacting Minds Centre

The Interacting Minds Centre is a multidisciplinary research environment at Aarhus University in Denmark, with about 40 researchers affiliated. These researchers, from a wide range of different academic backgrounds, come together to learn more about the interaction between people, and to transcend the boundaries between disciplines and professional traditions.

Aarhus University

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