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Lil’ Scientist

1 May 2021

Children are scientists by nature. The best way to introduce them to the world of science is to put them to work and let them do real research. In cooperation with the IMC Weekend School, The Young Academy is developing a website with online citizen science experiments for primary school children.

Children aged eight to twelve can contribute to the research online from their homes. They help ‘real’ scientists and get a glimpse of career options in science and what a researcher actually does.

This project is aimed at children aged ten to twelve who are less likely to be exposed to science. That is why The Young Academy is cooperating with the IMC Weekend School, a foundation that offers inspiration-based education to more than 2400 children at 54 locations in the Netherlands. Its pupils are generally from underprivileged neighbourhoods and come from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. IMC Weekend School uses an interactive and dynamic approach to introduce these children to various career options. We use the same method on our website.

The child-friendly citizen science experiments take the same interactive and dynamic approach to introducing children to science as a career option. By doing their own research, and by interacting with ‘real’ scientists, children discover how diverse scientific research is. And more importantly, they learn to see themselves as potential scientists. This is how we can engage with an underrepresented target group at an early age, familiarise them in an entertaining manner with different scientific disciplines, and inspire them to think about a career in research. Lil’ Scientist offers researchers a platform to work with children on developing new scientific concepts and results.

The COVID-19 restrictions limit the extent to which the project can be carried out in schools. Following the lessons at the first set of pilot schools, we therefore decided to carry out this part of the project largely online. The project will be extended in 2021.

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