round 260 children have been given a taste of scientific research when they became ‘summer scientists’ this week, helped by staff and students as part of a major public research event.
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.
The popular Summer Scientist programme took place at the University of Lincoln’s main Brayford Pool Campus over five days.
While the activities are designed as fun games for the children, the findings will be used to inform real academic research into how children acquire the cognitive abilities we rely on as adults, how different behaviours are developed, and the motivations behind different actions.
Organiser Dr Fenja Ziegler said the week had been a huge success. “We have been running this now for six years and it is always really popular with families as a summer activity – we were oversubscribed in just three hours when we opened bookings,” she said.
“This event gives us a chance to gather data on a range of topics, which can help answer important questions about development and behaviour. It’s also a chance for students to be involved to help build their understanding of academic research as they progress through their degree – something we pride ourselves on at Lincoln.”
The research games were delivered by experienced academic staff from the University’s School of Psychology, 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, another looked at how helpful behaviour develops, while a further activity measured impulsivity across age groups to establish when impulse control develops.
Student Klaudia Rutkowska, who is about to enter her second year on the BSc (Hons) Psychology, said the opportunity to develop her research experience had been a real help. She said: “I am spending the summer in Lincoln and I wanted to use the time to develop myself academically as this is my dream future – I want to eventually work at a university. An event like Summer Scientist is the perfect way to do that because you get to participate in real research work as an undergraduate.
“The games I’ve been working on have also given me some real insight into how children work, and will help me shape my dissertation later down the line. It’s been great fun and something I would do again.”
Summer Scientist ran from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th August 2016 on the University’s main Brayford Pool Campus. Alongside the carefully structured research activities, it featured a fun zone with face painting, science discovery games, and hook-a-duck among others.
To find out more about Psychology courses at the University of Lincoln, visit www.lincoln.ac.uk/psychology
Story credit: Elizabeth Allen