It can often be difficult for parents to know how to fill the long summer holidays, but this year, a team of researchers from Coventry University stepped in to provide a few days of fun for children with their annual Young Researchers event.
The children, ranging in age from 6-12 years old, took part in a selection of fun science-based activities. These were designed not only to keep them entertained, but also so that the team could gain invaluable insights into how and when children learn vital skills such as problem solving, emotion recognition and literacy. The team, made up primarily of academics from the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, welcomed a total of 148 children to the lively sessions, along with parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles.
Feedback was really positive. Almost all families said that they would attend next year and that they enjoyed taking part in the research, particularly writing a story, and having a go at mindreading!
Data entry is now well underway and we hope to have some exciting findings to share soon.
The activities children enjoyed included:
Guess the Gift
Being able to recognise how other people feel is an important skill in everyday life, but currently there is no conclusive research explaining how children develop this ability. This activity included showing the children videos of people receiving a gift, and asking them to deduce from the people’s reactions what the presents were, and how the people felt. This task involved the use of eye-tracking software to see where the children were looking during the activity to help them understand the situation.
Story Writing Competition
Our researchers were interested in finding out more about how children learn to write stories, as well as the skills needed to be a good writer. Each day, the children were given an idea and then left to create a story. The entire process was recorded using a graphics tablet, which monitored what the children wrote, any mistakes made, when they paused to think about the story or if they made any edits or changes.
Children had the chance to release some energy as they were asked to catch, throw balls at targets and balance on one leg. This gave the researchers the opportunity to learn more about how young people develop these skills, and whether they have any relation to other abilities, such as holding a conversation or using empathy.
Other activities for the children included bowling to test for right-handed or left-handedness and colouring in a ‘brain’ hat to learn more about the mind; while the researchers also looked into how sleep affects children’s mental abilities and whether the speed at which children can recognise letters affects their aptitude at spelling.
“Coventry Young Researchers has been a great success this year, with 148 children taking part in a number of research studies, while having fun and learning about science! We plan to run this fun science event every year, so that families in and around Coventry can learn about and help with our research. We would like to thank all the families who helped us this year, and we look forward to sharing what we found out!”