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Society public engagement grant funds healthy eating maths app

05 April 2018

Vegetable Maths Masters, a free app which encourages children to eat more vegetables whilst using maths, has been funded by a Society public engagement grant.

A team of psychologists lead by Dr Claire Farrow at Aston University successfully applied for the funding in 2017.   The aim of the app is to expose children to visual images of realistic vegetables through an interactive maths platform which parents, teachers and children may be motivated to use.

A prototype of the app was tested at the Big Bang Fair in March, where over 1000 children played the app and gave feedback.  The next stage of testing will take place in schools to see whether children who play Vegetable Maths Masters are more likely to taste the food they play with compared to children who play a standard maths game.

There are three levels to the game, broken down by age:

  • Level 1, 3-4 years
  • Level 2, 5-6 years
  • Level 3, 7+ years

The app draws on psychological research to integrate different methods known to increase interest in vegetables and eagerness to try them.  Children choose a child, a teddy or a rabbit character to play with and they ‘feed’ them throughout the game.  Their character is happy and animated when they eat vegetables and gives verbal feedback.

Dr Farrow said,

“Most children in the UK do not eat the recommended levels of vegetables and at the same time young children can be neophobic, or fearful of new foods. We know from psychological research that visual exposure to new foods, watching others eat new foods, and the use of certain incentives can increase children’s willingness to try novel foods. We have developed Vegetable Maths Masters around these principles and hope that it will be a useful tool for parents and teachers to use to support children’s maths skills whilst exposing them to healthy foods. We are looking forwards to the app launch and to evaluating whether the app is effective at increasing children’s willingness to taste vegetables.”

The team are in the final stages of completing the app and are hoping to launch on Apple and Android platforms in May. 

 

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