Engaging young children in scientific research

Another publication has caught my eye specifically titled, “Back to school: challenges and rewards of engaging young children in scientific research” Published in Archives of Disease in Childhood September 2016; Vol. 101, No. 9 and written by Janet Stocks and Sooky Lum.

This publication describes strategies to engage with children with a focus on working with schools. This approach has always been useful as children are typically willing to learn and enjoy having guest “teachers” within the school environment. However, one of the biggest challenges I find is overcoming the local rules and regulations for each school to get there in the first place. It is important to recognise that the school has to engage and there is inevitably some burden passed to the school to administer aspects of the study and liaise with parents so I understand why this can be a challenge. The use of interactive science workshops is usually a great way to recruit children but it is important to remember that the children should be a representative group; sometimes those that attend these workshops are not representative of the whole paediatric community…

I still feel that more work needs to be undertaken to engage parents and children not only as participants in research but also as leaders and designers of research studies to ensure that we are investing effort and resources into the aspects that matter most to children and their families.


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