Research news: value system, schoolyard, digihumanities and biosynthesis

The research news section gives regular hints about interesting studies in various fields of research.

Social Sciences

What is the value system like in early childhood? 

The hierarchy of values in preschool children aged 5–7 can be studied using appropriate measurement tools, with images depicting the actions instead of verbal descriptions. At this age, children’s value system is quite similar to that of adults. However, compared to grownups and also schoolchildren aged 7–9, it is more difficult for preschool children to distinguish the motivational goals of the basic values. For example, if one values power, the central goal is to acquire a social status, and if one values achievement, the person is motivated to achieve personal success and competence.

Read more in the article.
Further information: Anni Tamm, Research Fellow of Developmental Psychology,
Tiia Tulviste, Professor of Developmental Psychology,


Children would prefer schoolyards with more opportunities for physical activity

Researchers explored the characteristics of schoolyards in six Nordic and Baltic countries, and examined the opportunities they provide for children’s physical activity. Group interviews were conducted to find out children’s preferences at each school. Pupils’ feedback was quite similar in all countries: they generally liked the schoolyards but wished the yards provided more facilities for exciting activities and well as places to spend time socially or in private. It would help fulfil the children’s wishes if, instead of monofunctional sport-oriented areas, versatile landscapes for physical activity were developed, serving the needs of pupils of different ages and skills. Such areas could be used for ball games, cycling or scootering, climbing, developing one’s balance and why not playing hide-and-seek. The study examined schoolyards in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Read more in the article.
Further information: Merike Kull, Lecturer in Health Education,

Arts and Humanities

Digihumanities may give new knowledge about the Estonianisation of surnames

The methods of digital humanities are by no means new in research – for example, in historical demographics, the historian Heldur Palli used the automated data processing of perforated cards fifty years ago already. However, digital humanities offer ever more opportunities to traditional research for analysing large databases and visualising the results. They can also be used for testing to ask more precise research questions based on the results. One of the studies analysed the data collection compiled by Aadu Must in 1999, covering the Estonianisation of family names mostly from 1935 to 1940. The name changes reflect the change (or no change) in Estonians’ mentality and trends at that time. For example, it turns out that one in three names was taken directly from the recommended list of names prepared by linguists. In 82% of the cases, consonants were preferred as the initial letter, and in half of the cases, a name of six or seven letters was chosen.

Read more in the article.
Further information: Fred Puss, doctoral student of History,

Science and Technology

3D-printed living materials could be used in biosynthesis

Biosynthesis, or the synthesis of substances by living organisms, is a promising method that, thanks to its simplicity, efficiency and environmental sustainability, could replace chemical synthesis in many areas in the future. Currently, large tanks are most often used for biosynthesis, and the suspension cell culture in tanks is often exchanged at the end of the cycle. The use of 3D-printed living materials would be more sustainable, as the cell culture in the living materials can conduct the synthesis repeatedly without itself being damaged or altered. UT researchers analysed the possibilities such living materials can offer for controlling synthesis and directing the reactions necessary for the life processes of cells (metabolism).

Read more in the article.
Further information: Tarmo Tamm, Associate Professor of Materials Science,