On the 9th and 10th of January, members from the Children and Technology group were invited to hold a dissemination activity at the Teeny Tiny Toddler Fest, held at Camera Obscura world of illusions. This event is aimed at families with children aged 0-5 years to engage with science and become aware of current research happening in their local communities.
Zayba Ghazali-Mohammed and Andrew Manches re-designed the science charades game that was previously used in an adult dissemination activity at Glasgow Science Centre. At the Toddlerfest, adults were invited to take part in the game alongside their children and were presented with a card that depicted an everyday science word like “eruption” or “tree” for children to guess. Building on our Move2Learn research, adults had to communicate 30 words to their children in three different conditions: speech only (no action or gesture), gesture only (no verbal communication), or speech and gesture (our natural form of communication). Children in turn, had to guess as many words that their adult was trying to communicate to them.
The half-day events resulted in approximately 15 families recruited into the informal study, with approximately 7 families opting to complete a simpler alternative task with children who were under 3 years. This alternative task, (conducted by two very enthusiastic volunteers Alexia Revueltas and Li Zhang) was more exploratory and was done in three different ways depending on the age of the child. The first, was showing children two cards from a different pile of illustrated words, and asking related questions to explore the images on the cards for example, cards showing “lighting bolt” and “planet Earth”, were explored using questions such as “What happens when it rains really hard?” or “Do you know where we live?” The second game consisted of showing children two cards and the researcher acting out one of the cards in front of them so that children could guess the correct gesture associated with the card. The third version was for slightly older children and involved both version one and two but with more advanced science words such as “magnetic” or “universe”. In addition, the children were encouraged to discuss their knowledge about the illustrated word.
Parents responded very well to the initiative, particularly enjoying the fact that they could play alongside their children and take part in research together, whether this was part of the main study or the alternative games for younger children. Camera Obscura also provided an interesting and engaging space where science discussion was fostered by using other exhibits that were around our study area. Feedback from parents was very positive with many requesting to be contacted for further information about our project. Overall, parents seemed to enjoy the idea of a family game that incorporated everyday science and that varied in difficulty.
The findings from the event led us to some interesting conclusions and design iterations we would like to make in future studies. Namely, the kinds of words we would ask adults to communicate, the type of pictures used on cards (that would sometimes assist the adult with the way they communicated said word), and the age range that was most successful in completing the task confidently. We hope to make these changes as we move forward with future events and studies.