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Spring SAVY 2022 – Psychology 101 for 5th/6th Grade (Stuckelman)

Posted by on Monday, February 21, 2022 in blog.

We had a great time on Saturday, February 19th, exploring the wonderful world of Psychology in Psychology 101: Why are the doing that?!. This group of 5th/6th graders entered class with a level of enthusiasm that was astounding. Each and every one of them clearly cared about the topic, and wanted to learn as much as they could during our short time together. We started off the day by playing a getting to know you game where we tried to find the weirdest thing we all had in common with one another, such as least favorite foods, what odd thing we really like, and other fun facts! We then moved on to some fun videos around the different areas of Psychology that exist in our world, as well as learnt about the research process and scientific method.

After we covered ourselves, psychology, and research, we dove into a fun debate about one of the key topics in Developmental Psychology: nature vs. nurture. So many great points were raised about the need of our genetic coding to inform our future decisions, as well as how our environment impacts who we become in our lifetime. The passion that was shown during this debate was particularly impressive because many of our students did not end up on the side that they, themselves, believed was the better answer. We then covered a wide range of important topics in Developmental Psychology, such as empathy, theory of mind, and self-regulation (which included the favorite video of the day in the Marshmallow Experiment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo4WF3cSd9Q).

We then dove into Cognitive Psychology by talking about how our perception of the world can be fooled through optical illusions. Some of our students were surprised by the fact that some illusions they could not interpret, but discovered that this was partially because they were still developing! We also talked about our earliest and most recent memories to illustrate the fact that as we grow older certain aspects of our memories continue to stand out while others may fade away. After lunch, we ended our discussions of Cognitive Psychology by attending to attention and thinking about whether we are always able to focus on our entire environment. Students really loved the Gorilla example that we used (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo).

Last but not least, I would be remiss to not mention that students carried out their own experiment at the end of the day around the topic of Social Psychology and, specifically, conformity. We learned about the Asch Line Test and applied to a different kind of scenario: math! Students were keen to discuss why we may sometimes lean towards the majority rather than what we believe is right. As I said during class, I suggest that students try this with their own friends and family to see what results they find!

It was a genuine pleasure to work with these brilliant students last Saturday. Their energy and willingness to participate blew me and Ms. Maddie away. I encourage students to continue to foster their interests in the broad area of Psychology, and to continue to pursue their questions through research. If students want to do more of these kinds of experiments, I recommend looking at this website: https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/projects/psychology.html. Thank you for a great Saturday!