Whose Turn Is it Anyway?
When flicking through the Edinburgh Science Festival brochure, we always take particular interest, in the impressive input from the University of Edinburgh. The university produces talks, interactive events and drop in sessions of all kinds. And this year, we happened upon a play called ‘It’s My Turn!’– a unique addition to the Science Festival that sounded fascinating so we wanted to find out more.
Nina Fisher is a postdoctoral researcher based in the Psychology department working with Professor Martin Pickering and Dr Lauren Hadley. She is working on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust which investigates turn-taking in language and in music. As part of a public engagement outreach project, Nina and her colleagues came up with ‘It’s My Turn!’
Tell us a bit about your research.
We look at the mechanisms involved in predictive processing during conversation or during music playing with a partner. Specifically we explore how we predict when another speaker or player will finish: a prediction that enables us to come in at the right time and enjoy smooth conversation/music.
Tell me about your public engagement outreach project at PPLS (Philosophy, Psychology and Language Science)?
The production of the play ‘It’s My Turn!’ is an innovative project which attempts to engage the public with some of the research that is currently taking place within PPLS. It is supported by the Leverhulme Trust, by a University of Edinburgh Alumni funded Student Experience Grant, and by a Knowledge Exchange and Impact grant awarded by PPLS.
Why did you decide to highlight your research through a play? What inspired you to use this format?
The play is a format that has not been used before by the school of PPLS to engage the public. We think it is important to encourage young children to engage with science and Psychology is one of the areas which children are not typically exposed to. Furthermore, children often struggle with turn-taking and we wanted to suggest ways in which turn-taking could be improved through some simple and fun games; an interactive play seemed the obvious choice to spread our ideas to as many kids as possible.
What has been the reaction at the primary schools?
We encouraged the children and the teachers to give us feedback when piloting the play and the responses we received were overwhelmingly positive!
Why should we and our families go and see ‘It’s My Turn’?
While ‘It’s My Turn!’ is an interactive play full of fun, it also exhibits some common language difficulties that children can experience. Importantly, it demonstrates some techniques via child friendly games that can be used to overcome these turn-taking difficulties. The play lasts for around 45 minutes and we promise you a lot of laughs, games, and music!
Will you have time to see shows at the Science Festival? If so, what?
I will definitely be going to see ‘It’s My Turn!’, and for families, ‘Life Under the Lens’ at Jupiter Artland looks fantastic! Of course as a music researcher, I think the workshop on ‘Electronic Music’ at the Pleasance will be a winner so I would also head to that one. I am very keen to see the exhibition ‘A Human Touch’ being held at The Scottish Parliament, and I would love to see a Christiana Figueres discuss climate change at the Signet Library. It’s going to be a great festival, I am so happy that we could be a part of it and I am very much looking forward to it!
It's My Turn! is being performed at 11am AND 2pm on Tuesday 16th April in the Auditorium at the National Museum of Scotland.