The Centre engaged with the general public through a wide variety of education activities for all ages. From international undergraduate visits, to presentations for primary and secondary students, even pre-school children visited the Centre or had CCD members present in their classrooms. These events gave these students the opportunity not only to learn about our research and its impact on society, but also to see the potential career pathways that a STEM degree offers.
Since its inception in 2014, over 120 high school students benefited from CCD work experience programs. Students had the opportunity to work with researchers from Macquarie University and The University of Sydney nodes, as well as the Person Perception researchers at UWA and clinicians at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), University College London, UK through a program managed by Professor Liz Pellicano.
During the week-long programs hosted at Macquarie University, Centre members from all five programs (Belief Formation, Language, Memory, Person Perception and Reading) volunteered their time to support these students. The program included presentations from researchers about their work, hands-on demonstrations of the latest technology used in neuroscience research, discussions with careers advisors about the different degrees available and post-degree career pathways. The students were also able to experience some aspects of the undergraduate course curriculum. They logged on to the online Delusions and Disorders course in the Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, and learned about different topics covered in the course, such as aphasia, synaesthesia and schizophrenia. Hands-on sessions allowed students to see how cognitive science researchers use technology including ultrasound, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), eye-tracking and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate the inner workings of the brain. The program included a ‘mini research project’ wherein small groups of students worked as a research team to design and execute a research project. At the end of the week, they presented a summary of their findings to Centre academics.
Centre members were also involved in various careers fairs, visited a number of different high schools and hosted high school students at the CCD. During these activities, researchers offered demonstrations and answered students' questions about their fields of expertise and about what it means to be a researcher.
Over the life of the CCD, Centre members engaged with a number of regional and rural schools through video conferencing, hosting school student visits from Burradoo, NSW and the Kimberly / Northwestern and Southwestern regions of Western Australia. Members of the CCD also engaged with primary school students in the Northern Territory. One project investigating the relationship between the hearing of indigenous children and their performance on early literacy activities was featured in one of the ARC Making a Difference Success stories.
The CCD’s outreach activities provided numerous opportunities for Centre members to establish and enhance link with stakeholders and the wider community.
Each year National Science Week saw Centre members involved in numerous activities across the country. These included "A Night of Illusions" at the Sydney Science Festival, MAASive Lates "Speed Date a Scientist" events, and hands-on demonstrations of the EMOTIV system at the Australian Museum. Special "Science in Schools" visits during National Science Week also took place. While Centre members from the Person Perception Program even participated in "Science bake-off" competitions. In addition, Centre members gave various public presentations during the week on a range of topics including language development, memory, prosopagnosia and music and the brain.
Child Language Lab researchers attended the Essential Baby and Toddler Show for several years and provided public talks to parents on topics such as infant-directed speech and language development in bilingual children. Researchers were also on hand to answer various questions about speech perception and language development, and parents had the opportunity to register, on behalf of their children, for future participation in studies.
Memory Program researchers ran annual FTD Information Days for Carers with over 70 people attending these sessions, some travelling from interstate and New Zealand. Over the course of the sessions, speakers presented an overview of FTD, information about responding to the impacts of FTD, and insights into FTD research, advocacy and support. These events were a valuable opportunity for family members to meet others in a similar situation and hear about the latest research in FTD.
Centre members also provided ongoing support and resources to clinicians, educators and other community members through direct consultation, providing updates to professional communities about new developments in research, as well as participation in formal and informal discussions.