What is a Laboratory-Demonstration School?

A laboratory or demonstration school operates in alignment with a university, college, or teacher education institution and offers opportunities for teacher training, educational research, and professional development. A laboratory or demonstration school is an innovation hub for creativity and experimentation; application of new knowledge and research; new discoveries and problem solving processes. It is a place to learn from challenges and mistakes. A laboratory school is a facility where teachers, students and families can learn about child development and education. They observe children interacting with one another, with adults, with various materials and with queries and new concepts they encounter every day. They try new ideas, take risks, and continue to grow as learners.

As a lab school for the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, we have multiple missions:

  • Service to children and families
  • A site for teacher education
  • A site for experimentation, research and curriculum development
  • Professional development for in-service and pre-service teachers
  • Collaboration and outreach to the community
  • Dissemination of ideas through presentations and publications

As a laboratory school, Eliot-Pearson Children’s School (EPCS) is a site for faculty members, student research and curricular projects for the Child Study and Human Development Department, Tufts University and colleagues from other research organizations. The school is also equipped with observation booths for each classroom and visitors are welcome to observe by making an appointment in advance with the school office.

The school research coordinator and Director must approve all research projects. Research packets with all materials needed are available to request permission from the school. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from Tufts is also required.

At EPCS, teacher inquiry is integral to what we do, which includes school wide inquiry (SWI) as a collaborative form of investigation into the processes of teaching and learning. SWI is a form of professional development that informs our classroom practice and builds community through a shared focus and shared inquiry. Inquiry is based in documentation principles inspired from the collaborative action research models, the communities of practice literature, Reggio Emilia Schools, and the Making Learning Visible work of Project Zero at Harvard University.

We work collaboratively to develop a model of teacher inquiry that serves to invite and support children, teachers, parents, undergraduate and graduate students, and child study.