Summer Scientist is an annual event organised by the School of Psychology and hosted at the University of Lincoln. The event mixes research and fun and gives young scientists a first taste of university. The event is entirely free of charge, but you need to book a space. Please check the information below before you book.


What am I signing up for?

You are signing up for a morning or afternoon of free fun activities aimed at children between 3 and 10 years old. You will be booked into one session in the week of 22nd – 26 August. The event takes place in the Minerva Building, situated on the Brayford Pool Campus of the University. Once you arrive for your session a team of trained student volunteers, researchers and academics will play games with your children in the Fun-Zone and ask them to take part in our research studies which we call research ‘games’. These research ‘games’ are fun activities for children to enjoy, but they also allow experts at the university to learn about how children develop. You are welcome to watch your children take part in these ‘games’, enjoy the Fun-Zone with them, or sit and relax in the café area with a newspaper or good book. You will still be able to see your kids from where you are, and the person in charge of the session also knows where any child is at any given time. We also have free Wi-Fi, poster displays and other information for the adults (parents, grandparents, carers) who accompany the kids.

campus map

With your booking, you will receive a detailed information pack, including directions and other general information.If you have any questions about the set up of the event, please email Email Summer Scientist

Taking part in research studies

A number of research studies will be running during the summer scientist week. Your child will be invited to take part in some of these studies depending on their age. All the studies involve tasks that have been designed for children and children almost always enjoy them and complete them without any problems. However, if at any time a child appears distressed or unhappy with the game, it will be stopped immediately, and they are able to withdraw at any time. All the researchers have lots of experience of working with children.

What happens to children’s data?

The results of the studies will be prepared for publication in academic journals and copies of these will be available upon request. Responses of individual children will remain strictly confidential, as only group data will be reported. You may also choose to withdraw your child’s data for up to 3 weeks after the end of the event.

Can I watch the studies?

All parents are asked to stay on site for the duration of their child’s morning or afternoon with us, which you confirm by signing a form which you will receive via email (we have spare copies at the event). There are seating areas and other things to keep you occupied. You are also very welcome to watch the studies. We understand that it may be tempting to help your child in the studies. However, any answers that your child gives (even those that appear ‘wrong’) are very informative for us. As such, we would be grateful if you did not help your child to complete any of the tasks.

The Research Games at Summer Scientist 2016:         

How many stickers can you get?
People often engage in helpful behaviour even though they get nothing in return. We want to understand more how this kind of behaviour develops by finding out if and how children distribute valuable resources (i.e. stickers!). We invite four children at a time to play a game in which they receive some stickers and then have a chance to give some of these to other children. Children will be asked to wear bibs similar to those used in team sports. Don’t worry, all children will leave with some stickers in the end!

Is it safe?
This game has three parts. Children can do as many of the three parts as they want to. Part 1 involves children looking at short video clips and photos of roadside scenes, e.g. places to cross the road. They will be asked to decide whether they think it shows a safe place to cross the road. How accurately and quickly they can make decisions is important for learning how to safely cross the road. Part 2 involves children reading or being told four short stories about other children’s behaviour and asked to comment on how likely they are to do the same thing. For example, about a child who is running late for school but stops to look left and right before crossing the road, or a child who opens presents before they are expected to. Part 3 involves asking children to pump up a computer image of a balloon (not a real balloon) which will burst if pumped too much. This will measure how much risk they are comfortable with. Understanding what children think about behaviour and how much risk they are comfortable with can help us to plan how best to teach them about road safety.

Follow Buzzy Bee!
We use our eyes to look around the world but how do our brains know where to look and how do children learn how to look where and when?
This research uses an “eye tracking” computer in which a camera under a computer monitor can measure where people are looking. We will ask the children to complete a short game which looks at how well they track a cartoon bee jumping around the screen. It should be quite fun and most kids find the technology really interesting. The only down side is that they have to wear a silly sticker on their forehead for the eye tracking camera to work properly. You can wear the sticker on your head for the rest of the day with pride!

Where is the apple?
How quickly can your child find an object? In this study we will try and find out. Your child will first see a target object on a computer screen, followed by a set of objects. The task will be to touch (on the touchscreen) where the target is among these objects as quickly as possible. In this task, we are trying to find out whether different types of cues (hands, arrows, gazing eyes) help finding the target.

Watch a film! And choose a coloured box!
This study is interested in kindness. We will explore whether feelings of inspiration at the good deeds of others can encourage children to want to help others. Children will be shown either a neutral film or an inspirational film (3-4 minutes long). After watching the film children will be asked to complete a short booklet (with help from a researcher). In the booklet we will ask children how they felt while watching the video, we will ask them whether they want to help other children, and we will ask them whether they want to share any stickers with other children.

The balloon games!!
Children playing, caregivers participating! Dive into a world of fun and educational computer games. We ask your child to play two games:
1. The “What’s that sound” game which aims to help children develop their auditory perceptual skills associated with language and music ability.
2. The “Balloon Analogue Risk Task” which measures real-world risk behavior through the conceptual frame of balancing the potential for reward versus loss.
Caregivers will be asked to complete two online short-questionnaires about their child. One about sensory behaviours and another about autistic-like traits in typically developing children. Participation should last about 20 minutes.
Chasing Nemo!!
We have designed a game called ‘Chasing Nemo’, which measures impulsivity in children of all ages. On a computer, each child will see fish on the screen, and have to press a button when they see Nemo, and do nothing when they see his friends! Children will also get to choose a different reward for taking part, which they can have at the start or the end of the game. Adults will be invited to complete a short questionnaire whilst the children play Chasing Nemo. We are measuring impulsivity across age groups to establish when impulse control develops.

Plungers and bowls
Show mum and dad that you can help her with everyday objects. Grab a plunger and move it to different shelves and pick up a bowl and move it to where it needs to go.

Imagine that!
Reading stories is great fun for children and adults alike. One of the reasons we enjoy imaginary worlds is because we can picture them almost as though they were real and feel the trials and tribulations and the joy of the characters we meet. Stepping into the shoes of a character seems an almost effortless process of taking someone else’s perspective. In this little game we want to find out what the story world looks like we create in our imagination. Imagination – thinking about things that are not real but could be – is a really important skill for people of all ages, and want to find out more about how it works in this fun story activity.

How big am I?
Kids will get to see their growth as they are measured and this game will do just that!

Let’s wear funny glasses!
Parents get to be summer scientists too! Parents and children wear funny glasses while telling a story and playing a game.

Handy hands!
Kids will be able to play a series of short games, draw pictures and stand on one foot! Some of the games will be done on the computer. Kids will see dots and lines on the computer screen and the object of the game will be to align them against a background of swirling dots that resemble the universe. Kids will build using building blocks, do a block puzzle, and draw a picture. Kids will balance and compete for setting a record in Summer Scientist for longest time standing on one foot!



You can book a place through the online shop. Please use a separate form for each child. The system cannot cope with multiple children and this is the best work around we have. We will make sure they are in the same session. :-) Any session shown with an X is already fully booked, so please choose an alternative session.

If you require a car parking space, please email with the date that you have booked onto, your car registration and your full name.

The booking will send you an email confirmation and then a short while before the event we will email you the information, directions and consent forms. You can print those out if you wish, but we also have printed copies available at booking in, if you want to save ink.