Department of Psychology

New REACT funding to support new games and products for children

Thu Oct 09 10:46:00 BST 2014

Researchers from across our Departments of Education, Psychology and Engineering have been awarded new funding as part of the REACT ‘Play Sandbox’ to support collaborations that develop new products or services for children.


New REACT funding will support researchers across the University in developing new products and games for children.


From digitally enhanced playground swings, a tablet game to help children with Down’s Syndrome, and an immersive story den brought to life, teams from different disciplines and from different institutions have each been awarded funding to develop prototypes that help children play in new and transformative ways.

As one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), REACT is a collaboration between our University, GW4 partners Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, UWE Bristol, the Watershed, and regional companies.

Its 'Play Sandbox' will support six collaborations that develop new products or services for children. It has been designed to bring together companies, young people and academics, with research and development due to be completed in February 2015 and prototypes showcased to the public next spring.

Projects from Bath that have been successful include a tablet-based game, 'Mice of Mischief', designed to help children with Down’s Syndrome better understand numbers, led by Dr Jill Porter in our Department of Education.

Also awarded funding, Dr Elies Dekoninck of our Department of Mechanical Engineering, will develop 'STRAX', a stacking game where players compete to arrange blocks in high-scoring patterns while a computer tracks players' moves.

Dr Lia Emmanuel from our Department of Psychology will collaborate with colleagues in Bristol on another innovative project enabling children to record a story to a precious object, triggering the story when the object is played with, and helping to support children through times of change and uncertainty.

Professor Danaë Stanton Fraser, lead investigator for REACT at Bath, said: "It is fantastic that academics across Education, Psychology and Engineering at Bath have been successful in being awarded funds to develop projects within Play sandbox. We look forward to seeing how these partnerships develop especially with the potential impact that they have on young children’s lives."

REACT Managing Producer Jo Lansdowne added: "Play Sandbox is built on the proposition that the best products for children are made with children. We have recruited fourteen children to act as Young Coaches to ensure we do things right, they are our partners in the design process, challenging us to make better things with their imaginations, opinions and values. Sandbox is a space in which project teams can turn an experimental idea into a working prototype over four months of rapid R&D. It is a great opportunity to experiment, explore and take risks, and never more so with our latest REACT theme, Play."

Find out more about the REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub »

Read the AHRC press release ‘REACT announce Play Sandbox awards’ »