Prism Goggles

Public summary: 

See how quickly your brain adapts by wearing our prism goggles whilst playing a target-hitting game.

Demonstrate how the brain adapts to changes in environmental input using prism goggles.
Useful information
Kit List: 

Prism goggles (currently on loan from Steve Edgely, Dept of PDN
Small objects to aim at box (e.g. beanbags)
Box (e.g. small blue experiment box, bigger one if working with younger children!)

Packing Away: 

Pack goggles EXTREMELY CAREFULLY - they are on loan to us!


Interim explanation copied from

INTRO/BACKGROUND: The following is an example of what the leader might say
during the introduction, including some specific questions to keep the kids engaged. It
does not need to be repeated verbatim, and probably will contain more information that is
necessary to explain.

Can anyone describe what learning is? Scientists like to say that “Learning is the way we
acquire information about the world”, but this can mean a lot of things, information can
mean things like phone numbers, friends names, times-tables, but it can also be things
like friends faces, how to make a free throw, or how to draw a picture. When scientists
over the last century have thought about learning, they realized something very
important, and that is that some kinds of learning are require conscious activity and
others happen unconsciously, and they refer to these kids of learning as explicit and
implicit learning.

Consciousness can be tricky to talk about, maybe you think you know exactly what we
mean by conscious and unconscious activity, but lets look at it a different way. If we
asked you to describe how you learned that 6*8 is 48, you could probably describe how
math works, that if you took a bunch of M & M’s and made a square with 6 rows of 8
M&M’s each that you could count each one and make 48. Some things that we learn are
easy to talk about, but others are more difficult, take free throws for example, somebody
probably showed you how to hold the ball, but how exactly do you know how to make
the shot?
Scientists look at it this way, times tables and correct free throws are both kinds of
information that can be learned. The type of information that you can easily think about
and describe is termed explicit {think explained-explicit}, and the kinds that you kind of
just do are termed implicit {less easy to remember, think implied}. Now in everyday life
not everything fits nicely into one category or the other, but for today we’re going to stick
with that definition.

When you learn something new individual cells in your brain change. One thing that
scientists are currently studying is where in your brain specific cells are changing.
Were going to show you a little game that will change a few cells in a part of your brain
called the cerebellum. One thing that your cerebellum helps you do is compare what you
see with what your body is doing. You have lots of sensors in your muscles that keep
track of where your body is. If you move your arm, you know where it’s moving even if
you cannot see it, or aren’t paying attention. A copy of this, along with a lot of other
information goes to your cerebellum.

Your cerebellum helps you by comparing what you want to do with what you actually
did. So if you’re playing a beanbag toss game, and you throw a beanbag at a target then
you either hit the target or miss the target. Part of your cerebellum is working like a little
computer, and each time you throw a bag, it keeps track of how close you were to the
target. It takes the information about how much you missed the target by and uses it to
change the way your arm moves the next time you throw.

When you play the beanbag toss game, were going to move where the target appears to
be, so you will end up throwing it further away from the target than you would expect,
but if you take enough throws your cerebellum will do the work for you and change the
way your arm moves without you even having to think about it. And your throws will get
closer and closer.

ACTIVITY: Volunteers will lead groups of 4-6 students. Students will be trying to throw
a beanbag into a target. Each student will first get an opportunity to practice a few throws
and then they will be given a pair of Prism Goggles. Prism Goggles distort the field of
vision to about 20 degrees in one direction and make it very difficult to hit the target and
beanbags will probably be thrown all over the place. Other students that aren’t
participating can help collect stray beanbags. While wearing the goggles, each student
should get 20-30 attempts to hit the target. Students should be encouraged at this time to
“let their brains adapt to the situation” rather than manually adjusting where they aim
(many students will attempt to adjust their aim). After they begin to consistently hit the
target, ask the student to remove the goggles and throw again. Many of the students will
accidentally miss in the opposite direction. Some students may not show these effects of
compensation. Allow each student to have his turn to wear the glasses and try the

DISCUSSION: Once we put on prism goggles, there are two ways to adjust and hit the
target. One strategy is explicit, we tell ourselves that our aim is off and try to throw the
beanbag where we think the target is, rather than where it appears. This type of strategy
quickly adjusts our performance, but requires us to guess where the beanbag should be
thrown. For students that use this strategy, when the goggles are removed, and they are
asked to throw again, they will not experience an opposite shift in their aim. When using
the implicit learning strategy we throw the beanbag where the target appears to be. This
strategy requires several attempts, each time we throw a beanbag, our brain makes a tiny
adjustment, in a brain circuit that we do not have conscious control over. The adjustments
last for a while which is why after removing the prism goggles, our aim has been adjusted
in the opposite direction, and takes a few more trials to re-learn.

Some questions to ask {feel free to add your own}:
Is one kind of learning better than the other? {each have their own benefits, think about
the attention demands of explicit learning}
What is an example of an activity that is more effectively learned implicitly/explicitly?
{maybe something like soccer/friends names}
Why would we want to learn things without having to pay attention to them?
Are there any subjects in school that are best learned implicitly? {foreign language}

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Sun, 05/01/2020
Risk assesment checked by: 
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Mon, 20/01/2020
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Beatrix Huissoon
Risk Assessment: 
Hazard Risk Affected Person(s) Likelihood Severity Overall Mitigation Likelihood Severity Overall
Goggles Child becomes disorientated wearing goggles or on removing them and is more likely to fall over. Public 3 3 9 Ask child to stand still on one spot if they are wearing the goggles. If they feel dizzy, remove the goggles and tell them to sit down on the floor. Do not allow them to run around wearing the goggles. Remember that they may be equally disorientated on removing the goggles - do not allow them to run off immediately and again make them sit down if they are dizzy. Ensure the surrounding area is resonably clear, particularly of sharp objects and is on level ground away from any sharp drops, to prevent injuries and falls.
Call first aider if necessary.
2 2 4
Small objects Small objects being thrown towards target escape and present a trip hazard. All 3 3 9 Keep an eye on the whereabouts of the objects, do not get too many out at once. Where possible, use objects such as beanbags which will not bounce and roll all over the floor. Do not set up the experiment in a throughfare. Call first aider if necessary. 2 3 6
Various activities Small objects to be thrown towards target, and attempts at high-fives, hit other people. All 4 3 12 Do not allow children to collect objects while the subject is still throwing them. Position the experiment so that other people are not in the firing line. Use soft, light objects where possible. Warn children to high-five gently. In case of accident, call a first aider. 2 3 6
Dropped objects Child picking up objects from floor may hit head on nearby objects due to lack of peripheral vision. Public 4 3 12 Demonstrate away from obstructions - especially shelves/tables/sharp corners - as far as possible. Pick up balls for child if hazards are nearby. Try to stand between child and hazard.
Call first aider if necessary.
2 2 4
This experiment is sometimes run outside during CBS!, see separate risk assessment.