More than 240 children were given a taste of scientific research when they became ‘Summer Scientists’, helped by staff and students as part of a major public research event.
The annual University of Lincoln event, now in its seventh year, was held for the first time in the newly opened £19million Sarah Swift Building, which is home to the Schools of Psychology and Health and Social Care.
Children aged between three and ten years old participated in a series of accessible games and activities which explored different aspects of cognitive development, from testing visual perception, impulsive behaviour and coordination, to recognising emotion and altruism. A total of nine research games were delivered by experienced academic staff, supported by a team of around 30 student volunteers.
One game examined if there are links between how a child interprets sounds and their approach to taking risks, while another, which was a collaboration between the School of Psychology and the School of Computer Science, used a small humanoid robot called Nao to interact with children in a study which aims to improve the lives of people with autism.
Alongside the carefully structured research activities, the event featured a fun zone with face painting, science discovery games, and hook-a-duck among others.
The popular Summer Scientist programme took place at the University of Lincoln’s main Brayford Pool Campus between Monday and Friday last week (21st – 25th August 2017).
Organiser Dr Niko Kargas said the week had been a huge success. “Summer Scientist is a chance to show children that science can be fun, and inspire the next generation of scientists through interactive games, and also a way for us to involve our local community in the work we do as a university.
“There is also a real academic value to the week-long activities; we are collecting data through a series of research ‘games’ which will give us valuable information about a child’s cognitive and developmental psychology; why would one child respond to something one way, and another child behave differently?
“It’s also a chance for students to take an active role in research activities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, which is vital to help build their understanding of academic research as they progress through their degree – something we pride ourselves on at Lincoln.
“We were oversubscribed in just a few hours of opening bookings this year, with quite a few children who have previously participated in the event joining us again. We suspect we will have the same interest next year.”
The findings from the research games will be used to inform real academic research and be used for papers published in academic journals.
To find out more about Psychology courses at the University of Lincoln, visit: www.lincoln.ac.uk/psychology
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