Tractor or Barbie? Young Scientists Want to Know!

The coaches from the midlands and the outer rim territories will soon be pulling in, filling the cafes of Ballsbridge with very bright if slightly awkward membership of the Brian Cox Fan Club… yes, it is Young Scientists week at the RDS!   And both Conlethian Senior and Junior students are involved, so before that kid from Cork starts yodelling about the beneficial bacteria involved in beet production, read our very own Zachary Carr’s account of his and Sophie Lee’s project involving the influence of childhood play on career choice. 


Last September we set out to understand if the choice of toy we play with as children, influences our choice of course in Third Level Education.  Our proposed methodology of using both an online survey as well as face-to-face interviews on the campus of University College Dublin.  What we ultimately prove is that, more often than not, favourite childhood toy choice is directly linked to future college course choice, often in surprising ways.  For example, we found that gender, normally very important in children’s choice of toy, played very little role for students of Architecture and Engineering. Students on these courses almost all had a common favourite toy which was a construction toy, such as Lego, regardless of gender.  We discovered that Business Students overwhelmingly loved to play with action figures and dolls, perhaps hinting at a future desire to manage and lead.  We uncovered just how predictable our childhood behaviour can be, for example, almost every Agricultural Science student, including Mr. Trenier, favoured his or her toy tractor over any other toy.  Our study was a fascinating project to work on and we learned a lot about getting busy students to talk!  We’d love if you could come along and see us at the RDS this week.

Sophie and I asking a student for our face-to-face survey in UCD.