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The University of Southampton

Southampton’s ‘Identity Detectives’ at the Big Bang Fair 2015

Published: 5 March 2015
Identity Detectives at BBF 2015

Psychologists at the University of Southampton will be challenging young people to consider who they are and how they reveal their identity.

The challenge is part of a workshop event being held at The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham (11-14 March) – the largest science fair of its kind in the UK.  The Southampton team will showcase exciting and up-to-the-minute research, encouraging pupils to think about careers in science and allied fields.

Dr Sarah Stevenage leads a multidisciplinary team of colleagues who will deliver daily workshops to provide a fascinating hands-on experience for 7 to 14 years olds on the theme of 'Identity Detectives'. The workshops will provide the chance for children to look at their physical identity and their cyber identity, providing a truly modern view of identity in a technologically sophisticated world.  The physical cues introduce the children to the science behind biometrics which is a particular strength amongst researchers at Southampton whilst the cyber cues encourage children to consider what they reveal online.

In the HAND STAND, children will have the chance to view their hands under natural light, infrared and ultraviolet lights as well as under thermal imaging cameras, with each view revealing different and unique aspects of the hand that mark each person out from the next.

In the WALKWAY, the children will not stop moving as they learn what makes their gait pattern different and distinct from others. By experimenting with silly walks, the children will have the chance to understand how factors such as centre of gravity play a pivotal role in defining their gait pattern.

Finally, in the AVATAR STAND, the children will explore their digital identities. They will have fun creating instant avatars, but through this activity they will also have the chance to think about what they reveal online and what others assume about them given their online choices.

All three activities illustrate science in action. “Psychology, like other sciences, is an exciting and worthwhile subject to study and leads to amazing careers,” says Sarah. “Through these fun activities, we want to enthuse and motivate young people to get involved in science and realise how it can make a real difference in a myriad of ways.”


Dr Sarah Stevenage
Dr Sarah Stevenage

The ‘Identity Detectives’ stand is just one strand of impact associated with the multi-million pound SuperIdentity Project that Sarah leads. The project, funded through the UK’s Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), brings together colleagues from forensic anthropology, automated biometrics, human recognition, cyberbehaviour, mathematical modelling, data visualisation, and considerations of law and privacy across six UK universities. Its aim is to understand identity in all of its dimensions, and to make use of both data prediction and data fusion in supporting powerful new frameworks for identification. The project concludes in March 2015.

For further venue details visit our events page.


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