Schools invited to consider Life’s Big Questions

Designed to help young people explore what joins us together and what makes us unique, Life’s Big Questions is part of the on-tour Dreamachine programme

Newsround presenter, Martin Dougan, is the host of Life’s Big Questions, an interactive survey designed to help young people explore the human brain

UK children aged seven to 11 are being invited to help probe how they and their peers experience the world and connect with each other.

They will be asked to consider five key questions related to perception and consciousness, namely:

  • Can I believe everything I see?
  • How do I know time is passing?
  • Are colours only in my mind?
  • Is everything I hear real?
  • Are people the same all over the world?

Questions can be answered individually or as a class, with participants guided through the procedure via step-by-step activities such as listening to audio clips and looking at optical illusions,

Each question includes the thoughts of world-leaders in science and philosophy, such as Professor Anil Seth, a neuroscientist and public science communicator, and Professor Fiona Macpherson, president of the British Philosophical Association.

Martin Dougan explains how the survey works

“I believe that children are intrinsically curious about consciousness and perception, about how we each experience the world, and why we have conscious experiences at all,” said Seth.

“By engaging with children about these fundamental topics, we’ll be able to cultivate this curiosity, build greater understanding and empathy, and foster greater wellbeing, too, because understanding how we’re each different on the inside is an important part of bringing us together and forging connections.

“And we’ll also hope to discover fascinating new data about how children across the country experience their worlds.”

The survey forms part of Dreamachine, a programme created by Collective Act in collaboration with Turner Prize-winning architects-cum-artists, Assemble, and Mercury-nominated electronic composer, Jon Hopkins, together with a fleet of technologists, scientists and philosophers.

Inspired by Brion Gysin’s invention of the same name – designed to be the “first artwork to be experienced with your eyes closed” – Dreamachine’s immersive world of light and music is touring the four capitals of the UK across the summer.

In the meantime, the survey in the related schools programme will show participants how their answers compare with children across the home nations, encouraging them to consider the ways we are similar as well as what makes us unique. All associated resources are linked to curricula in each country.

The first 500 schools to register for Life’s Big Questions will have the opportunity to win in-school experiences for their pupils

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