Following the success at Science Uncovered last month, today we geared up again for Science Spectacular at Manchester Museum. Our visitors enjoyed the “brain helmet” and the information cards that were laid around the table as usual. This time round we added a computer-based activity where visitors would read different versions of speech sentences. We discussed their inner voice experience during reading and all adult visitors agreed that specific inner voices gave rise to emotional experience.
Things were going well until we realised that some of our activities were not suitable for our younger visitors. Many kids were under the age of 6. They did not recognise most of the characters in the “speech cards”, not even Hermione from Harry Potter. In hindsight, we should have picked more CBBC characters (e.g., Peppa Pig). Moreover, some kids could not yet read and did not understand the concept of inner voices. Luckily their parents did an excellent job in reading the sentences out loud. The kids seemed to enjoy the stories but we felt we could have done better. It was a lesson well learned and we will be much better prepared for a family-orientated event next time.
Teenagers seemed to be particularly interested in this topic; perhaps it is the age when they start to play with voices in their heads. I had a very positive interaction with a 12-year-old boy who claimed to be an aspiring writer. Having completed the activity, he thought for a moment and asked, “So if I were to describe a scene, instead of describing in narratives, perhaps it would be better to describe it through the voices of a protagonist?” “Precisely!” I replied enthusiastically. “That’s cooool,” he smiled broadly and continued, “I will try that!” Voila, we may have just planted a seed for our next J.R.R. Tolkien!