Does laughing make you more creative?

This research question of Madelijn Strick was the topic on Wednesday morning, November 21st, for 262 grade school children aged 9-10. They did not have to work on it alone, but had the help of a researcher from the Utrecht Young Academy, and a bright yellow suitcase with something special inside. 

Waar of niet waar
UYA-member Elaine Mak with class 5/6 of the Gertrudisschool | Photo: Wessel Spoelder

This year, Wetenschapsknooppunt Utrecht and the Utrecht Young Academy organised the educational programme 'True or False' for the first time, designed specially for grade schools in the Utrecht area. Together with a researcher, pupils from classes 5 and 6 from 12 different schools discovered how one conducts good research - and how fun that can be!

Frog masks and blowing bubbles
For this year, central theme was Madelijn Stick's humour research. The class received the assignment from Madelijn to discover if laughing causes an increase in creativity. With the help of the in-class researcher and vlogs of other UYA members, the pupils set up their own humour research within an hour. They found useful materials in the yellow suitcase, which contained frog masks and soap to blow bubbles with. The children used these to make each other laugh before or after they would begin their creative assignment. 

At the end the children compared their creative exercises. According to the pupils of Jenaplan school Het Spoor in Zeist, the creative ones were the group that were made to laugh before the exercise. But... Is this answer actually correct? And will this be the truth forever? Jikke from class 5/6 of Het Spoor thinks the conclusion of the experiment would differ if boys and girls were equally split amongst the groups. Classmate Mats adds that, for the outcome, it's also important that every child is equally funny. 

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Photo: Wessel Spoelder

An approachable image of science
UYA-member Tom Wennekes helped the children of Het Spoor with their research and is one of the initiators of 'True or False'. With the help of the programme he wishes to present an approachable, understandable image of science to the children: "Kids cannot begin early enough with discovering how the world around them works. Programmes like 'True or False' show children that they, too, can conduct research on their own questions."

Mats found the experiment on humour very fun and informative, because he had never thought about how some people are more creative than others. Jikke agreed with that: "I thought it was a very educational class, because I am creative myself and I noticed that the exercises and the laughing made me even more creative. That was fun."

More information
Wetenschapsknooppunt and Utrecht Young Academy would like to organise more editions of 'True or False' in the near future, always based on current scientific research of an UYA-member. 

Curious about other programmes of Wetenschapsknooppunt Utrecht for grade schools? Click here. Other (outreach) projects of the Utrecht Young Academy can be found on their website.

Waar of niet waar
Photo: Wessel Spoelder