STEM Ambassador Awards 2013 - Bristol, Bath & Somerset; STEM Event of the Year 2016 for the Bristol Neuroscience Festival.

The STEM University Department of the Year was awarded to the University of Bristol, School of Experimental Psychology and the Bristol Neuroscience Group.

This was in recognition of a variety of high quality, high impact school STEM activities from STEM Ambassadors in this department/group, please see a few examples below:

We are part of the STEM Ambassador Programme ( and staff and students from the School take our outreach programme “The Brain Box Challenge” to primary schools in the region.

The Brain Box Challenge has engaged with nearly 3000 pupils across the West of England.

Save the date: The Festival_Advanced_Notice.pdf will take place from 22-24 March 2018 (  Why not come and see what our neuroscientists are doing.

Primary Schools

The Self Lab and the School of Experimental Psychology support outreach activities wherever possible.  This can be in Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, and possibly in local science clubs.  Example of these activities can be seen here along with feedback from those involved.

Public Engagement

Visitor Number:


Its very important to us that young children have access to science and scientists in their primary education.  The Self Lab are happy to visit Primary Schools and provide workshops tailored to fit in with aspects of the school curriculum with a psychology/neuroscience bent.

We can discuss how brains work to fit with modules on health and wellbeing, the senses or on how the body works, or as a session tailored to fit in with a module on Science and Scientists.

These sessions are provided free of charge where possible and have accommodated either specific classes or entire school populations (in smaller rural schools).

In addition to a taught component the children can engage in some fun problem-solving tasks, memory games, strategy games, code breaking as well as hands-on experiments.  Sessions usually take 2 to 3 hours but shorter sessions can be provided as required.

We are constantly developing our schools programme and always appreciate feedback on what worked well and what was less enjoyable.  A few examples of the primary school sessions can be seen in the pictures below and the images sent in by children can be seen on our gallery page.  We really appreciate receiving these.

Playing the brain version of a                Making brain hats              Doing Experiments

classic memory game                              


Puzzles, code-breaking challenges and the Build-A-Brain game. Even the adults have fun!


Playing “Go Brains” exposes pupils to the differences and similarities in brain structure

across different species - and its also great fun! They also enjoy making the giant brain floor puzzle and working with university scientists.

Download a brochure for our Brain Box Challenge event here: BrainBoxBrochure2019.pdf

If you would like to arrange a visit please contact Dr. Turk at the University of Bristol (0117-9288565) or  by email at

Primary Schools Visited

Aloeric Primary School, Melksham, Wiltshire

Andalusia Academy, Bristol

Ashcombe Primary School, Weston-super-Mare

Ashton Gate Primary School, Bristol

Auchterellon Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Backwell Church of England Primary School, North Somerset

Bailey’s Court Primary School, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Banwell Primary School, North Somerset

Begbrook Primary School, Bristol

Bournville Primary School, North Somerset

Bowerhill Primary School, Melksham, Wiltshire

Brentry Primary School, Bristol

Bromley Heath Junior School, Bristol

Broughton Gifford Primary School, Wiltshire

Buckfastleigh Primary School, Devon

Cheddar Grove Primary School, Bristol

Corpus Christie RC Primary School, Weston-super-Mare

Crombie Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Cultercullen Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Farmborough Church Primary School, Bath

Flax Bourton Primary School, North Somerset

Golden Valley Primary School, Nailsea, North Somerset

Hatton of Fintray Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Henleaze Junior School, Bristol

Horfield Primary School, Bristol

Hutton Primary School, North Somerset

Kingsway Primary School, Gloucestershire

Long Ashton All Saints Cub Pack

Lord Kitchener Elementary School, Vancouver, Canada

Meiklemill Primary School, Aberdeenshire

Northleaze Primary School, Long Ashton, North Somerset

Redfield Edge Primary School, Bristol

Sakurano Primary School, Tokyo, Japan

Scotts Park Primary School, Bromley, London

Shaw Primary School, Wiltshire

St Andrews Primary School, Bath

St Andrews Primary School, North Somerset

St. Augustines RC Primary School, Bristol

St Francis RC Primary School, Nailsea

St. John the Evangelist Primary School, Clevedon, North Somerset

St. Josephs RC Primary School, Devizes, Wilts

St. Martins C of E Primary School, Weston-super-Mare

St. Pius Xth Primary School, Bristol

St. Teresa’s RC Primary School, Bristol

Tickenham Primary School, North Somerset

Voyage Learning Campus, Nailsea, North Somerset

Wandsdyke Primary School, Bristol

Wheatfield Primary School, Bristol

Whitchurch Primary School, Bristol

Winford Primary School, North Somerset

Worlebury Primary School, North Somerset

Wrington Primary School, North Somerset

Press Coverage:

University of Bristol News 11th March 2014:

Bristol Post 11th March 2014:

At-Bristol Press Release for Brain Awareness Week 2014:

North Somerset Times December 16th 2013:

University News 13th December 2013:

Weston Mercury, 28th November 2013:

Somerset Guardian, Jul 4th 2013:

Melksham News, June 2013:  Melksham News pg 8 and 9 issue 581.pdf

Scotts Park School Newsletter: ScottsPark.pdf

Japan Press 2016.pdf

Golden Valley 2017 -

Secondary Schools

Dr. Turk also provides a hands-on session for secondary school pupils on aspects of social and cognitive neuroscience.  This includes a short lecture session where pupils are exposed to common misconceptions about memory, perception and even body ownership.  There is then an opportunity to engage in tasks designed to highlight these issues, culminating in a session on body ownership where they get to try out the rubber-hand illusion.  This illusion demonstrates the importance of multi-sensory integration in generating the feeling that we own our limbs and by manipulating these sensory inputs we can claim ownership of fake limbs or even the limbs of others.

Here, S5 pupils from Ellon Academy found out for themselves how easy it is to generate this illusion and then explored some of the boundaries of it. They tried the effect with:

                                                             Rubber Hands

                        Skeletal Hands                                    Or the hand of a friend

Feedback has been very positive so far.  EllonAcademy.doc

                                                                 Redland Green.pdf

We are also happy to visit secondary schools to discuss any aspect of cognitive neuroscience, psychology or science careers that might be of use:

Secondary Schools visited:

Backwell Academy, North Somerset

Churchill Academy, North Somerset

Ellon Academy, Aberdeenshire.

Kawakita  Junior High School, Hokkaido, Japan

Redland Green Academy, Bristol.

Shibetu High School, Hokkaido, Japan

British Science Association

CREST Awards Scheme

Dr. Turk has also recently been involved in supporting a CREST science award for two budding ornithologists.  We all learned a lot about sparrows on this project, but it was great fun and really rewarding for the kids. 

A copy of their report can be downloaded here:  Crestcover.pdf

Ellon Wildlife Explorers Club

Bronze Award Project 2011

Ellie Turk (10) and Lewis Lamond (11), members of the Ellon Wildlife Explorers Club (WEX) are pictured receiving their CREST Bronze Science Award certificates from

outgoing club leader Mrs. Fiona Marshall, and their project mentor Dr. David Turk, from the University of Aberdeen.

As part of their WEX activities the Meiklemill primary school children took part in the annual RSPB garden bird watch during which they counted the numbers of different bird species present in Mrs. Marshall’s garden.  They then obtained  data for the 15 previous years of bird counts in the same garden and set about exploring how bird numbers had changed over this extended period.  They decided to focus their research on House and Tree Sparrows as although these are common species the recorded numbers of these birds in the UK has dropped by 50% over the past 25 years placing them on the RSPB Red List. 

Ellie and Lewis found that while Tree Sparrows appeared to be increasing, House Sparrow numbers had declined in line with national figures.  They then set about trying to find out why one species of Sparrow was faring better than another.  They asked experts and looked for information on the internet and came up with a range of theories for why House Sparrow numbers were falling, as well as possible solutions to the problems they were facing.  These included loss of habitat, increased predation by cats and the effects of global warming. The most startling finding in their report is that large numbers of House Sparrows are killed each year by salmonella poisoning picked up from infected feeders and bird tables.  So one thing we can all do to help Sparrows is to regularly wash our bird feeders.


We receive a number of drawings following our visits to schools, some of  which can be seen on our Gallery page.

Watch a video of our activities for 2013/4 here: 

“..the children had a great time and many of them referred to the session on their reports when writing the highlights of their year!”

Teacher, Year 3/4 Class, Shaw Primary School 2013.

“I am writing to tell you what a valuable and enjoyable experience it was for the children, staff and parent helpers. The session was an ideal opportunity to enhance the learning our pupils experience linked to the National Curriculum focus on Life Processes. It was also interesting to have some of your students, (Emma Howell and Poppy Mulvaney) available to work alongside groups of children.  This presented us with role models to refer to, inspiring more of our pupils to get involved in science more confidently in the future.”

Golden Valley Primary School 2013

“it was a great experience for the children to meet "real life scientists" (especially a female role model), they were also fascinated by the various activities, relished the fun learning environment that was established and learned a huge amount about the brain”.

Class Teacher, Flax Bourton Primary School

We look forward to welcoming you and your students into St John’s School again in December. I would just like to share with you a ‘life changing’ experience that one of our students had arising from your visit last year.

Child X was a Year Six pupil. He had experienced considerable difficulties throughout the primary school and also in his home life. All agreed that Child X was hard to reach and was, to an extent, disaffected from school. of the activities in which the children took part, measured the processing speed of their brains. Findings indicated that Child X had the fastest speed, significantly faster than his peers. I was present for the results and believe that he physically ‘grew’ before my eyes. There was a marked shift in the way people treated him. From that moment on, I believe, Child X began to believe he was capable of achieving in school. His attitude to work improved dramatically which impacted very favourably on his Key Stage 2 achievement.

Head Teacher, St John the Evangelist Primary School, Clevedon, December 2015.

“It was lovely for me, as the class teacher, to see the children in a different light as they were asking such interesting questions about a subject that I was not the 'expert' in. Having the parents in the class was great too, as they had an insight into the way their children react to taught sessions in the classroom, as well as seeing that we engage the children in challenging activities.” 

Class Teacher, Ashton Gate Primary School

There are brain models (and sometimes real brains) to hold and you get a certificate at the end!

Puzzles are a fun way for children to learn the names of the lobes of the brain and explore the brains of other animals. 

The number of pupils and adults visited on the Brain Box Challenge workshop since August 2012: