Improving Child Development by Monitoring Noisy Daycares #ASA183

Noise levels can negatively impact children and staff but focusing on the sound environment can help.

Media Contact:
Ashley Piccone
AIP Media

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 8, 2022 – During some of their most formative years, many children go to daycare centers outside their homes. While there, they require a supportive, healthy environment that includes meaningful speech and conversation. This hinges on the soundscape of the childcare center.

Understanding the soundscape in a daycare center can improve childhood development. Credit: George G. Meade Public Affairs Office

In his presentation at the 183rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Kenton Hummel of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) will describe how soundscape research in daycares can improve child and provider outcomes and experiences. The presentation, “Applying unsupervised machine learning clustering techniques to early childcare soundscapes,” will take place on Dec. 8 at 11:25 a.m. Eastern U.S. in the Summit A room, as part of the meeting running Dec. 5-9 at the Grand Hyatt Nashville Hotel.

“Few studies have rigorously examined the indoor sound quality of childcare centers,” said Hummel. “The scarcity of research may deprive providers and engineers from providing the highest quality of care possible. This study aims to better understand the sound environment of childcare centers to pave the way toward better childcare.”

The goal of the research is to understand the relationship between noise and people. High noise levels and long periods of loud fluctuating sound can negatively impact children and staff by increasing the effort it takes to communicate. In contrast, a low background noise level allows for meaningful speech, which is essential for language, brain, cognitive, and social/emotional development.

Hummel is a member of the UNL Soundscape Lab led by Dr. Erica Ryherd. Their team collaborated with experts in engineering, sensing, early childcare, and health to monitor three daycare centers for 48-hour periods. They also asked staff to evaluate the sound in their workplace. From there, they used machine learning to characterize the acoustic environment and determine what factors influence the child and provider experience.

“Recent work in offices, hospitals, and schools has utilized machine learning to understand their respective environments in a way that goes beyond typical acoustic analyses,” said Hummel. “This work utilizes similar machine learning techniques to build and expand on that work.”

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The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See

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