Leiden researchers nominated for Klokhuis Science Prize
Socialising with other people is an important part of feeling good. What do children need from their surroundings to do this? Adults usually determine this, but children know best. That is why they investigated it themselves in the project ‘All Schools Come Together: We Figure It Out!’ The research has been nominated for the Klokhuis Science Prize.
Over 2,000 children from across the Netherlands investigated whether what they think is important in their social environment is the same as what adults think is important for children. For the research, the social environment was divided into three areas: home, school and neighbourhood. Children from groups 6, 7 and 8 interviewed adults who influence that environment, such as a mother, school headmaster or mayor.
Not only are the results of the research important to the university’s researchers, but they also want to use it to introduce children to conducting research. After the interviews, the primary school pupils recorded their results on a poster, analysed them and made them understandable to others. They accomplished the latter by creating a piece of science communication, like a comic, rap or drawing.
All Schools Come Together is an annual initiative of the national Science Hubs. These are regional networks in which universities, (primary) schools, school boards and teacher training programmes work together. The Science Hubs are committed to helping young children develop into critical global citizens. In 2022, the citizen science project led by Yara Toenders, Karlijn Hermans and Eveline Crone from Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam was selected for this initiative.
The research results have yet to be released, but Karlijn Hermans, former researcher and current Open Science programme coordinator in Leiden, can already list a few. 'Children think it is important for people to be nice to each other, to respect each other’s opinions, to listen to each other and to have a place where they can take a break.’ When Hermans joined a class during the study, she found it striking that children consider offline contact more important than online contact, something adults may not always expect due to the increase in contact through social media.
The research led by Karlijn Hermans, Yara Toenders and Eveline Crone is one of the ten studies in the running for the Klokhuis Science Prize. The aim of the prize is to familiarise a wide, young audience with scientific research in the Netherlands. A Klokhuis episode will be made about the winning research. Children can now vote on the Klokhuis website, and the winner will be announced on 19 March.
Text: Dagmar Aarts