Science in Schools
  • Room 3, Link Building, University of Plymouth

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The aim of this one-day event was to give school-aged children (primary and secondary) insight into and hands-on experience of psychological research. We showed how memory works and how social factors can affect our memory. The topics of the event and activities were suitable for all ages from 7 onwards.

Example of activities

We gave pupils age-appropriate memory quizzes, which illustrated the effect of learning new information as words or pictures, and showed what happens to new memories when we are distracted. We used a child-friendly clicker response system, giving pupils direct feedback on how pictures can boost memory compared to words, and how distractors can greatly reduce memory performance. 

We then branched out in groups and showed the effect of gossip and rumours on our memory via a staged eye-witness scenario. 

After that in group activities we explored how groups remember things, how group memory is different from individual remembering, and when it makes sense to remember in groups or alone. 

Finally, we drew on one problematic aspect of human’s sociability, namely our tendency to conform to a majority even though we might know better. The pervasiveness of conformity has been a mainstay of psychological research. In this activity we demonstrated what factors might influence conformity, as well as some of the consequences of conformity on other behaviour and memory. For example, are we more likely to agree with others when we have engaged in a coordination task before (for example, singing together)? And what effect does conformity have on subsequent behaviour, such as creativity, memory, or risk taking?

The activities showed what research tells us about how memory works and how we can create a prosocial environment.


The biographies of Psychology colleagues participating in this event are available on the University's staff webpages. 

  • Dr Marina Wimmer, Lecturer in Psychology
  • Dr Michaela Gummerum, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology 
  • Dr Laurence White, Lecturer in Psychology 

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Today's events

Plymouth School Lab

The Plymouth School Lab was set up in 2010 and is formed by a group of developmental psychologists and educators. 

All studies are run by lecturers, research assistants or students from the School of Psychology at the University. Most of the research is based on experiments or questionnaire studies. For example, in a study on how children understand each other's emotions, participants are told short stories and asked for how the characters in the stories felt. All studies are age appropriate and tend to be fun for participants. 

Find out more on the Plymouth School Lab website.

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