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.

SSW photo collage

What am I signing up for?

You are signing up for a morning or afternoon of free fun activities aimed at children between 3 to 10 years old. You will be booked into one session in the week of 21st – 25th August. The event takes place in the Sarah Swift 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.

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 2017:         

Game of stickers!

The reason why people cooperate with others is still unclear. We want to understand what factors affect how children decide whether and when to cooperate with their peers. We invite children to play a series of short games in which they receive some stickers and then have a chance to give some of these stickers 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!

Finding Dory!

Children will have to find cartoons on a screen (e.g. Elsa, Dory) and say their names out loud. Videos of dogs’ and people’s facial expressions in day-to-day situations will be alternated with the cartoons, where we will do a “guess the emotion” game. During the session, a camera will record children’s eye movements. When Dory appears on the screen, children have to get up from the chair and look for the real Dory hidden somewhere in the room (parents can help searching too!). This game will help us understand how children develop their emotion reading skills in people and dogs.

Eyelander: escape the island by finding the shapes you need in this simple but fun computer game.

Eyelander is a very simple computer game. The player has to escape an island being engulfed in lava while avoiding obstacles such as an angry cow, a massive baby, an unidentified spaceship, and a naughty panda. To complete each level of the game and get to the boat, the player has to select the correct shape with a mouse-click even when there are many other similar shapes on the screen. There is only a short amount of time to find the correct shape though so you have to be quick.

Colour Challenge

How fast can your child name the colour of text?  It’s not as easy as you might think! Will the word itself make it more difficult to name the colour?  All the children need to do is say the colour of the ink as fast as they can (e.g. “blue”) – no reading involved!  But are they reading without realising? Let us find out with this fun version of the famous ‘Stroop Task’!  Once they have finished the game I will then see how many words your child can read from a simple list of other words.

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.

Catch the shape!

We are interested in children’s ability to learn specific sequences of shapes. Your child will be asked to play a game involving familiarisation with, and recognition of, different shapes.

We will first play a video showing a long sequence of shapes. Occasionally, a cartoon character will appear on the screen and your child will be asked to “catch” it as quickly as possible by pressing a key. This is so that your child can become familiar with the sequence of shapes. After this, we will play a memory game where your child will be asked which of two groups of shapes looks familiar to him/her, and how confident they are in their responses. Finally, we will play a “shape detection” game: we will show your child a fast stream of shapes and ask him/her to press a key as quickly as possible to “catch” a shape target. Overall, the session will take no longer than 15 minutes.

The results of these tasks will help us understand more about how children’s learning and memory work. Thank you for your help!

Hungry Pig!

In this game, played on a computer, the player is required to try and feed the pig! This is done by pressing a button on a keyboard to throw a piece of cake towards the pig’s mouth. The throws will either be successful, almost successful, or not at all successful. After each throw, we will ask the player how happy they are, and how much they would like to play again. Feed the pig as much cake as you can!

Left Hand, Right Hand

This set of games explores hand preference in typically developing children, to later be compared to a sample of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Previous research suggests there is a higher incidence of left handedness in children with DCD, and yet studies exploring this are scare and rely on questionnaire-based measurements of handedness. Our research has shown that skill-based handedness tasks are a better indicator of hand preference, and that they also provide insight to the neural bases of other functions, such as language. Our Summer Scientist games consist of 4 simple hand skill tasks, which we’d like children to try doing with their left and right hands to see if there are patterns between the tasks they find easier with each hand.

Human-wildlife interaction study for the parents!

 While waiting that your children do some science, do you want a chance to win £100?

All you have to do is take part in a 30-45 minute study at the University of Lincoln on human-animal interaction, and you will be entered into a prize draw to have the chance to win £100! We will carry out computer-based tests to better understand human-wildlife relationships.

We are looking for participants who are/have:

  • over 18 years old.
  • no animal-specific phobias.

Information will be kept confidential and anonymous and data can be withdrawn for up to 2 weeks from the date of completion.

How Tall am I?

Kids will get to see their growth as they are measured and this game will do just that!

What are those people up to???

Children will be shown several short clips of people expressing a particular emotion (angry, sad, etc). After each clip, your child will be asked some questions about the clip.  For example, they will be asked to identify the emotion the person in video was expressing and how sure they feel about their answer. We hope to find out more about developmental factors in the ability to recognize emotions from non-verbal cues from posture and body-movement.

Who’s who? The face game.

We want to find out if people are better at recognizing the faces of other people who are the same age as them. Your child will be shown pairs of face photos side by side on a computer screen and asked to decide whether the two photos show the same person or two different people. Half of the photo pairs will show young adults (aged 17-21), and the rest will show children (aged 6-10). We want to find out if children are better at this task when the photos show children compared to when the photos show young adults.

Play a game with a little robot!

In this activity, your child will play a short sorting game with our small robot Nao. The game will be played on a small tablet computer, and will involve the robot telling short stories, and then asking your child about items that appear on the screen. We’re interested in finding out how the game is played (there aren’t any right or wrong answers here!), and what your child thinks of the robot. This work is part of our efforts to see how we can use robots to help children with autism spectrum disorders with their social and cognitive skills.

Chasing Nemo!!

We will be using a game called ‘Chasing Nemo’, which measures impulsivity in children aged 6-10 years old. Each child will view fish on a computer screen, and have to press a button when they see Nemo, and do nothing when they see his friends!  We will also be playing a short game of ‘alternative uses’ entitled ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ where children will be shown three common, everyday objects, and asked to think of up to six alternative uses for it, the more creative, the better!  Whilst the children play these games, accompanying adults will be invited to complete two short online questionnaires asking about their child’s personality traits and about their child’s ability to regulate their own behavior. We are looking at how ability to inhibit responses and behaviour are related to creative thinking and personality traits in children.


You can book a place through the online shopPlease note that:

  • We have 2 sessions running each day of the event. The first session takes place between 9:30 and 12:30 and the second session between 13:30 and 16:30. When booking your place for the day, please make sure that you are available for both sessions as you will not have the option to select individual sessions.
  • Group bookings cannot be made via our online booking system. However, if you are part of a group we will try to book you in the same session. To do this, each member of the group will have to book onto the day first and then email once the bookings have gone through.

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.

The SSW team.