Outreach Event: Explore Your Universe 2015!

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Imagine your watching your favorite sport, and a gorilla walks right through the game. Think you would notice it? Think again. This exemplar of our selective attention was just one of the many beliefs flipped on its head by members of the Psychology in Action (PIA) outreach team at last Sunday’s 7th annual UCLA Explore Your Universe (EYU) event. As one of the largest science outreach events in all of southern California, the event sought to make science come alive for all ages – from K to gray.

Those who stopped by the PIA exhibit, “Psychology and the Brain,” couldn’t get enough. Individuals were captivated by Mark Straccia’s presentation of visual illusions, who piqued interest in the constraints of perception. Aaron Lim highlighted the power of the mind by challenging individuals to think about anything but a big yellow jeep and illuminated the complications of thought suppression.

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Sarah Tashjian and Bita Mesri engaged individuals with an entertaining montage of 3-5 year olds attempts at self-control in the presence of a mouthwatering marshmallow, simulating Walter Mischel’s delayed gratification research. They inspired curiosity when describing the predictive power of the Marshmallow Test on long-term academic trajectories, introducing concepts such as grit, willpower and self-discipline. Putting individuals’ delayed gratification to the test, Jenna Cummings walked individuals through a mindful eating activity using Hershey’s Kisses, challenging individuals to involve each of their 5 senses before consuming the chocolate.

Overall, the PIA team’s enthusiasm and passion effectively contested the idea of science being confined to labs and white coats. With over 7,000 attendees from the Los Angeles community, the event was a great success - the countdown to EYU 2016 has already begun!