In collaboration with The Young Academy (DJA) and Stichting IMC Weekendschool, KiDLAB conducts Lil’Scientist—a citizen science project that engages children as real scientists. Why do some children lose confidence in becoming scientists? What are the consequences of this confidence gap? And how can we engage children as real scientists in ongoing research to close the confidence gap?

Children are little scientists: They are born with intrinsic curiosity, develop theories about how the world works, gather data, weigh the evidence, and revise their theories accordingly. In many ways, children are better scientists than adults. At the same time, some children believe that science is not for them. This is especially the case for girls, children with non-Western migration backgrounds, and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Lil'Scientist aims to change this by engaging children as real scientists. We reach more than 3,300 children from disadvantaged backgrounds across 63 locations throughout the Netherlands. As part of Lil’Scientist, we developed “Who’s the scientist?”—a lesson plan that encourages children to investigate and challenge their own stereotypes about science and scientists—and we made these materials freely available to all primary schools in the Netherlands.

This work received support from The Dutch Research Council’s National Science Agenda (NWA), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and The Young Academy (DJA).

Key publications

Brummelman, E. (2022, July). Meer diversiteit? Laat kinderen wetenschap doen [More diversity? Engage children as scientists]. NRC.

Brüninghaus, J., van Hest, E., Leijten, P., Orobio de Castro, B, Overbeek, G., & Brummelman, E. (2022). Wie is de wetenschapper? Een lespakket om kinderen spelenderwijs kennis te laten maken met wetenschap [Who’s the scientist? Educational material to engage children in playful ways with science]. Research Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam. doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/8WBCV