Children from across Nottinghamshire will become scientists for the day at the annual Summer Scientist Week event taking place at The University of Nottingham.
Children aged between four and 11 will visit Jubilee Campus to help researchers from the School of Psychology and the Learning Sciences Research Institute understand how humans learn by taking part in a variety of studies. All of the studies involved tasks designed for children of a specific age to enjoy.
Research projects include:
· The Magic Cushion (age five-11).
Physical objects like plastic animals or blocks play a key part in early learning. Researchers are looking at the possible benefits of linking physical objects to digital information on a computer. Children will place objects onto a ‘magic cushion’ which will have a tag reader inside. The computer will then show information about the object — while the researchers examine whether this helps children’s motivation and learning.
· Stretch Armstrong (age four-11).
We think we know what our body looks and feels like, but how do our perceptions change as we are growing up? In this game, children will reach out and touch a variety of objects, such as a wooden block or even their other hand. But it will look as though their hands have stretched, shrunk, swapped or even disappeared. The child’s surprise will be measured by recording electrical signals from their fingers and by asking them how they feel.
· Left or right (age eight-11).
Research suggests that physical activity can have an impact on our thinking skills — this study examines the relationship between physical and mental activity. Children will play an easy computer game where they make eye movements to the left or right. Then they’ll repeat the game after taking part in a mild form of exercise — like a ball game.
“Young children’s minds are rapidly developing and they are constantly learning about the world around them,” said researcher Dr Camilla Gilmore. “These projects help researchers to understand these processes and how we can build on them to help children learn.”
All of the studies will be run by experienced researchers and have been approved by the University’s ethics committee. This year the Summer Scientist Week is supported by an Annual Fund Grant from The University of Nottingham Alumni Association.
The 2010 Summer Scientist Week takes place from August 16 to 20. The activities, at the Exchange Building on Jubilee Campus, will run from 9.30am to 12.30pm, and 1pm to 4pm, each day of the week. Parents and/or guardians must accompany their children to the session. Advance booking is required. For more information, a description of the research studies or to book a half-day place, contact the Summer Scientist team on 0115 846 7930, or visit www.summerscientist.org
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
Filming and photography can take place during Summer Scientist Week — participants have been asked to complete consent forms as part of the registration process. If you would like to film/photograph any of the studies, get in touch at the details below.