Girl at computer with notepad and pen in hand.

I-LABS, or the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, has partnered with PacSci since 2015 to give guests an opportunity to participate in real cognitive science research studies.

By playing short computer games with I-LABS researchers, kids visiting PacSci have contributed to a growing body of knowledge on self-esteem, bias and stereotypes related to math and gender. The information learned by researching these topics can be used to help combat social inequalities.

For example, by studying when girls begin to believe that “math is for boys” or that computer science is a “boys’ interest,” I-LABS researchers were able to test out age-appropriate activities to increase girls’ identification with math and confidence in their own coding abilities. I-LABS scientists have also been able to show that biases and stereotypes can arise very early in childhood and that intervening early while these beliefs are still malleable may help reduce more undesirable beliefs later (such as a child having negative attitudes towards math or doubting their ability in math, which has been tied to lower math achievement).

Definitions

Bias: the belief that some people or ideas are better than others, usually resulting in unfair treatment

Stereotype: a widespread belief that a person must have a trait because they belong to a particular group

Implicit: beliefs and thoughts that are measured indirectly, without instructions to report them, assuming no introspective awareness of them

Now, kids can join in and help I-LABS make a difference by adding their own data from wherever they are. I-LABS’ current projects are investigating implicit stereotypes about math and gender and implicit race bias in youth, and participating is easy!

If you’re a parent or caregiver of an interested child age 4–17, click one of the buttons below and accept the download for Inquisit Player (click a button appropriate for your child’s age). Then answer a few short questions, and turn it over to your young participant to respond to a simple survey and play a sorting game.

 

Stereotypes about Math and Gender (ages 4-6)
Implicit Race Bias (ages 4-6)
Stereotypes about Math and Gender (ages 7-17)
Implicit Race Bias (ages 7-17)

Learn what I-LABS has discovered so far about race bias and gender stereotypes in kids, and how you can approach these topics with your child. Want even more info? Explore I-LABS’s Resources for Parents & Caregivers page and the Child Identity and Learning Lab’s resource library.

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