Alice's Wonderland inspires science's Wondermind

   
   
Wondermindpr 
04 Nov 2011 14:02:04.870

PA 343/11

Psychologists, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s enduring stories of Alice in Wonderland, have developed an interactive website to help children learn about science and the human brain.

Dr Nicola Pitchford, from the School of Psychology at The University of Nottingham, has collaborated with UCL (University College London) on Wondermind - a new interactive website which forms part of a major exhibition at Tate Liverpool which opens today Friday 4 November, 2011.

The exhibition, Alice in Wonderland, explores how Lewis Carroll’s stories influenced the visual arts and Wondermind, brings together the world of Alice, art and the human brain. This is the first time that Tate has engaged scientists to work directly with children.

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Dr Nicola Pitchford, an expert in developmental neuropsychology, said: “Wondermind provides an important link to children’s cognitive development. It allows children to engage with science in a fun and exciting way. Developing a better understanding of key cognitive functions such as memory, spatial skills and language early on can help individuals significantly in later life through heightened self-awareness and greater appreciation of preferred learning strategies.”

Wondermind has been funded by a Society Award from the Wellcome Trust and builds on a long and successful history of collaboration between art and science.

Just like Alice in Wonderland 150 years before it, Wondermind takes children on a voyage of discovery. Based around Alice’s fantasy world of white rabbits, mad hatters and grinning Cheshire cats Wondermind is a suite of specially designed games, videos and online blogs to help children learn how their brain works and develops.

Drawing on Dr Pitchford’s expertise in language the interactive website encourages children to think about how the brain works – for instance; what babies understand, how we memorise things, and how we make sense of what we learn.

Dr Pitchford said: “Wondermind is a fabulous project because it allows children to engage with science in a fun and exciting way. Writing a blog aimed specifically at children was challenging as I’m so attuned to writing in an academic style, but it was also great fun and made me think very carefully about how a child views the world.”

The videos featuring real conversations with scientists were created by award winning director Martin Percy. The team of Wondermind scientists represent different areas of developmental neuroscience and are led by key scientist Dr Michelle de Haan, Reader in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Honorary Neuropsychologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Dr Pitchford was among a team of consultant scientists with expertise in developmental neuroscience. They included Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith  from University of London, Professor Peter Kind at the University of Edinburgh.

The Alice in Wonderland exhibition at Tate Liverpool is open from today Friday 4 November 2011 until Sunday 29 January 2012. The website http://www.tate.org.uk/liverpool/exhibitions/aliceinwonderland/default.shtm invites visitors to go down the rabbit hole with Alice to the Wondermind project.  If you are feeling curious join Alice by going to: http://tiny.cc/wondermind

 

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Notes to editors:  The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia. Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Nicola Pitchford, on +44 (0) 115 9515287, nicola.pitchford@nottingham.ac.uk
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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