Who Remembers?

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Author: Judee Shipman

Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Cognitive Science


Test and compare the memorization skills of kids and adults. The goals of this project are:     

  1. To conduct a valid memory test that is suitable for most age groups.     
  2. To determine the differences in memory skills between kids and adults.     
  3. To discover how this information might improve instructional techniques.     

Research Questions:     

  • How many items on a list can the average person recall?     
  • Do kids memorize better than adults do?     
  • How and why is this important?      

Which demographic group has the better memory – kids or adults?  This project aims to determine whether or not there is a difference between kids and adults in memorization skills.  This simple experiment will provide clear evidence. 


  • Computer with Internet access     
  • Color printer     
  • Digital camera     
  • Typical office/hobby/hardware/craft supplies (paper, poster board, glue, etc.)     
  • Store-bought samples of preserved foods (pickles, jerky, jams & jellies, vacuum-packed products, etc.)     
  • 20 volunteers age 30 years or older.     
  • 20 volunteers age 17 years or younger.

All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay.

Experimental Procedure:     

  1. Read overview of relevant topics (see bibliography below and terms listed above)     
  2. Address all of the above terms and research questions.     
  3. Search and print out interesting images relevant to your topic.    
  4. Take photographs throughout the course of the experiment.    
  5. Devise a list of 25 randomly chosen words, listed in random order.     
  6. Give each volunteer 30 minutes to study the list.     
  7. Collect the lists and give each volunteer up to 15 minutes to write down every word he/she can remember from the list.   
  8. Compare the results from both groups of volunteers.     
  9. Carefully record all observations.     
  10. Analyze your data.     
  11. Interpret your findings in a detailed report.     
  12. Include interesting photos, diagrams and memory tricks in your science fair display.  

Terms/Concepts: Crystallized intelligence;  Fluid intelligence; Mnemonic



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