Current Research Studies

Preschoolers Learning and Active in Play (PLAY) Study

Condition or Therapy:

Child health; public health 


Child Health, Behavior and Development

What is the goal of this study?

PLAY StudyWe invite you to join an exciting new research study called PLAY (Preschoolers Learning and Active in Play) to help kids ages 3 to 5 – and their teachers and families – be more active and healthy. 

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington are working with local childcare centers to test whether wrist-worn activity trackers help preschoolers, teachers and parents engage in more active lifestyles. 

Benefits of participating in PLAY: 

  • Childcare programs receive free continuing education (STARS training) for their providers and one-to-one consultation with coaches for goal setting and action planning.
  • Children, teachers/staff and some parents receive activity trackers that are theirs to keep.
  • Participants help scientists discover new ways to improve health. 


Who can join the study?

Children ages 3 to 5 that attend a participating childcare program, childcare providers/preschool teachers, and parents are eligible to participate in the six-month program.

What will happen if my child takes part in this study?

PLAY2 Study Kids_180x180Some childcare centers will be in phase 1 and participate right away. Other centers will be in phase 2 and complete some portions of the study now, and then finish participating during the study’s second year. 

Children ages 3 to 5 will be asked to: 

  • Wear an activity tracker on their wrist every day for six months.
  • Wear a small activity-tracking belt for three separate weeks.

Teachers/staff will be asked to:

  • Wear an activity tracker on their wrist every day for six months.
  • Remind children to wear their activity trackers daily.
  • Encourage each other, children and families to be more active. 
  • Fill out some surveys. 
  • Receive health/activity related text messages. 

Parents will be asked to:

  • Fill out some surveys.
  • Some parents will be asked to wear activity trackers.
  • Encourage more active play at home and at preschool.
  • Some parents will receive health/activity related text messages. 

Who can I contact for more information?

For teachers/directors: If you are interested in learning more or having your childcare center participate in the PLAY program or learning more, please email the PLAY study team.

If you know your center is already participating, please print and complete the Teacher Consent Form (PDF).

For parents: If you know that your child’s center is participating in the PLAY program, print and complete the Parent Consent Form (PDF) and return it to your child's center.

If your childcare center is not currently participating in the PLAY program, please email the PLAY study team and we will reach out to your child’s center with more information.

Research Materials for Parent Participants 

Meet the PLAY Team

Pooja_Tandon_173x173Pooja Tandon, MD, MPH

Principal Investigator 

Dr. Pooja Tandon is a pediatrician and researcher at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Washington. Her research has been funded by the American Heart Association, the Safeway Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Her current projects focus on studying the connection between outdoor play, physical activity and various health and development outcomes in preschool age children. Her favorite physical activity is taking long walks but she recently discovered standup paddle boarding and loves it.

Catherine Dewar Paul, RN, MPH

Childcare Health Consultant

Cathe Paul has worked as a childcare health consultant registered nurse since 1990, the same year she completed her MPH at Yale University. She has worked with both state and national programs advising and training on health, safety and nutrition information related to the early childhood setting. Cathe has worked with the Migrant Head Start, Head Start, Washington State Early Childhood and Education Assistance and Washington State Department of Health Healthy Child Care Washington programs, as well as with the Snohomish Health District childcare team. 

Trina ColburnTrina Colburn, PhD

Research Manager

Dr. Trina Colburn received her PhD in clinical psychology from Seattle Pacific University in 2006 after completing her undergraduate work at the University of Washington. She specializes in health psychology and in helping to promote health and wellness for children and families. She has worked as a research manager at Seattle Children’s since 2007, supporting a number of different researchers in the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Kodi. 

Albert_Hsu_173x173Albert Hsu, BS

Clinical Research Associate

Albert Hsu began working at Seattle Children’s in 2007 after graduating from Washington State University, where he earned a BS in psychology. He has been working with Dr. Tandon since 2010. His research interests include physical activity in preschoolers, accelerometry and movement based analytics, and childhood obesity. His favorite physical activities include tennis, hiking, and playing with his dog. 

Amanda Marchese, BAS

Clinical Research Associate

While in college at Seattle University, Amanda Marchese helped start a nonprofit to aid mental health and rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip. From that experience, she learned her true passion in life: exploring how so much of life can be improved through play! She has been working with children in volunteer, educational and research positions for over 15 years. Her favorite sport is volleyball, and her favorite activities are hiking and long walks outside.

Study Location(s):

Seattle Children's Hospital

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Pooja Tandon