Students present research at psych ‘shindig’

Senior Molly Perkins presents at the Psychological Science Shindig. 

What happens when flies consume alcohol? How does caffeine affect student academic performance? How do toddlers learn language? Does seeing police officers walking the streets make people find law enforcement agencies more trustworthy?

All these questions and more were answered with original research conducted by Castleton students at the first annual Psychological Science Shindig.

Nearly a dozen students presented research they had conducted. Many of these projects were the result of Research II, a required course for every psychology major while the others were the result of student-faculty research.

“We already have a poster session for the Research II students, and there is time to honor the others at the Scholar’s Celebration, but there is never a time when we’re all together as psychology students,” said professor Megan Blossom.

While some of the research was conducted on subjects outside of Castleton, more than half of the projects used Castleton students as subjects.

“We can understand ourselves as a campus with all the research that we do,” Blossom said.  

The shindig was not only a showcase of student research; there were also activities available for attendees. One such example was a game where you attempt to read the micro-expressions on a stranger’s face. The player stares at an emotionless face, then they are quickly shown an image of the same face but expressing an emotion, and have to guess what the person was feeling. There was also an opportunity to trick your brain with mind-bending optical illusions. 

Civic engagement projects were also on display, with almost a dozen different projects, all of which were masterminded by students.

“We’re not saying we’re better than any other departments, we’re just showing how easily you can take what you learn in a classroom and apply it to the real world while reaching out to the community,” said senior Samantha Marszalkowski, remarking on the number of projects undertaken by the department.  

Senior Molly Perkins presented two research projects she was involved with, and was also affiliated with many of the civic engagement projects. Despite pursuing a civic engagement certificate, she acknowledged that the process of pursuing the certificate was much more important that the piece of paper she would be presented with.

“It (the civic engagement program) has made me so much more involved in Castleton. I wasn’t involved in my schoolwork at all before, and this has totally wrapped me in and it helped me grow in the process,” said Perkins. 

While most of the attendees were students enrolled in the department, there were a handful who were there of their own accord.

“It’s fascinating to see my fellow Castleton students present their blood, sweat, and tears,” said senior Jimmy Britt, of the communication department.

Blossom hopes that in the coming years, there will be greater attendance from the community at large. Students from high schools around the region were invited, but because of scheduling conflicts caused by the massive nor’easter, none were not able to come.

However, she remains hopeful for more community engagement in the future.

“We would love to have it be a recruiting tool for high school students to see what they can do in college,” she said.


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