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Memory? Do you Remember When? Is it a Boy Thing or a Girl Thing? Is There a Gender Difference?

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Author: Dr. Muriel Gerhard

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with h basic and useful information on memory. Students conduct research on memory, short term and long term memory. Since their success in school and in life is dependent on the total knowledge they acquire, retain and use, the processes of both short term and long term memory are of great importance and value. Short term memory is one`s ability to remember something that just happened or happened recently and is retained for a short period of time. Long terms memory consists of remembrances of things that happened throughout our lives from birth to the present. In this project students begin to research the variables that impact on the processes of memory. In this specific case, it is gender. Do males and females remember equally well? Does the nature or kind of material to be stored in memory have an impact on the process, yielding different results? Do your emotions influence what you will remember and what you will tend to forget? . The focus here will be on exploring the possibilities of gender differences in short term memory. This may be the beginning of interest and exploration in this field of neuroscience.

This science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of silencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.

Problem:

Are there gender differences in memory?

Materials:

  • Flash cards to be constructed each separately containing words
  • numbers
  • Colors and pictures which will require cards
  • Markers
  • Old magazines for pictures
  • Pen
  • Scissors 
  • Paste

Procedure:

  1. Gather the material you will need to prepare the following kinds of cards; Number cards (each card with these numbers, one number per card, 20, 40 67, 87 110 254), Word cards (each card with one word such as cat, dog, tiger, wolf school, football, soccer, food, hamburger) Color cards, each card with a circle of one color on it such as a red card, a purple card a green card, a yellow card and an orange card. Last but not least, Picture Cards. Select pictures from advertisements from the newspaper or a magazine of household items and clothes, a total of five, paste each one on a card. You now have your materials for testing memory.
  2. Copy the response sheets, the work sheets shown on the next page so that you can reproduce them and have one of each for each subject. Copy the Summary Data Sheet. You will need one summary sheet.
  3. Select an equal number of subjects, male and female. The larger the sample of students, the better is your chances of obtaining a more accurate answer. But, be real, do not overextend yourself. You may want to work with five of each, a total of ten.
  4. Provide each subject with his or her answer sheet. Explain that they will be exposed to a series of flash cards and that after an interval of a few minutes they will be asked to record what they remembered on the sheet in the proper column. For example: in the word column they will write the words they recall in the number column the numbers they recall in the color column, the colors and in the picture column a brief description of what was in the picture. They are to relax and do their best.
  5. Instruct the subjects to write their name on the response sheet and begin. Start with the number cards and follow the same procedure all the way through with the word card, the color cards and the picture cards. First, hold up each card, count silently for 5 seconds, remove the card, and go on the next card, count silently for 5 seconds and go on to complete the set of numbers. Stop and have the group record what they recall. Give them 2 minutes. Now take the next set, the set of words, do the same, 5 seconds of exposure of each card. Stop and have the group record for 2 minutes. Then onto the color cards and then the picture cards .Have the group record each time. Now collect the response sheets.
  6. Tally the results on your Summary Sheet.
  7. What do you conclude? Were there gender differences? Were these differences consistent across all the categories in recall of numbers’, words, colors and pictures or were there no differences? Do you have sufficient data to reach a conclusion? If not. It is fine and typical of research. There are times, many tomes, we need to expand our research and that is a very significant finding and result.
  8. Write up your report. Include all of your research as well as your bibliography.
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