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NSF Face Camp
Last summer over 100 children had the unique opportunity to learn about the science of human face recognition at the University of Victoria's NSF Face Camp. Children, between the ages of 7 and 12, learned about the psychological and biological principles of face processing through a series of fast-paced, interactive exercises. Some of the activities included morphing the child’s own face into the face of their favorite celebrity, creating a computer sketch of the Face Camp burglar, and practicing their face making abilities with Amigo, the clown. Dr. Jim Tanaka and his colleagues developed Face Camp as a special project for NSF's Temporal Dynamics Learning Center. The primary goal of Face Camp was to design an engaging science program on face recognition for elementary school aged children. However, the camp also provided the researchers an opportunity to conduct basic research related to the development of face processing. Children at the camp participated in an experiment that compared their face recognition strategies to the strategies that they use to recognize non-face objects. In short, Face Camp is an innovative model that blends science education with scientific research. Children are able learn about the science of face recognition in a fun and engaging environment, while also contributing to an ongoing research project.