OCEANA : program validation

Our questions:

The ability to detect a state of stress, of lack of attention or of emotional overload is not inborn, you need to learn how to do it. To improve it, children first need to be able to perceive such states.

The OCEANA team is interested in the ability to transfer this knowledge, i.e. can children be autonomous in the regulation of their mental states?

To test that, we try to answer multiple questions:

  • First, we will investigate whether children benefit from the use of Charlotte Cherel’s objects. Can the use of these objects facilitate the autonomous practice of attentive attendance exercises? In other words, can children detect that they need to calm down/get back in control, and will they use the objects in relaxation exercises out of their own initiative? (more often with objects than without)
    We will test children’s usage of Charlotte Cherel’s objects in volunteering classes.  We will ask these classes to use the objects every other week. With daily questionnaire, we will look at how often they practice attentive attendance exercises with and without the objects.
  • Second, we will test the teaching kit designed by Cogni’Junior. How does the perception of emotions, stress, and focus in children change after teaching the theory about the brain and after doing exercises to learn how to regulate these mental states? Which factors contribute to a better detection of these mental states?
    To test this, we will use questionnaires that are validated by multiple cognitive psychology studies. These questionnaires measure  children’s ability to perceive and regulate emotions; their own tendency to be emotional or stressed and how easy it is for them to concentrate. These questionnaires will be done before and after the use of the teaching kit to compare the change in answers. We will combine it with information from the regular questionnaires to get longitudinal information about our sample and examine if the evolution of mental states is linked to the evolution of school performance and motivation.

Questionnaires :

  • 5 questionnaires to be completed 3 times: before the onset of teaching, after the completion of the teaching activities and a few months after the teaching has finished (to verify if the change persists).
    • self-compassion questionnaire [stress/emotion regulation]: 12 questions
    • effortful control/ attention/inhibition [concentration] : 12 questions
    • empathic quotient [emotions regulation] : 20 questions
    • mind-wandering [concentration], the only one created by the OCEANA team; this questionnaire is yet to be validated: 11 questions
    • stress in children [stress] : 21 questions
  • regular questionnaire: this questionnaire will be realized as often as possible, after any type of school activity. It enables testing of the association between mood, motivation, focus, mind-wandering, curiosity and stress as well as the efficacy of exercises/tips learned through the OCEANA teaching kit.
    For example, a child that doesn’t like maths may evaluate math activities as difficult and might tend to experience stress and let his/her mind wander more. We could imagine that later, after the teaching of OCEANA, math will still be rated as difficult but the child will try to keep more focus and will put more effort into the tasks.
  • User questionnaires: filled in whenever the teachers (or children) want to give us comments, feedback, and ideas for improving the kit.

The team

Roselyne Chauvin

Doctorante / PhD candidate

Caroline Saunier

Enseignante / Teacher

Adeline Lucchesi

Enseignante + master sciences cognitives / Teacher + cognitive science master

Isabelle malet

Enseignante / Teacher

Marie Palu

Ergotherateute + assistance de recherche / Occupational therapist + research assistant

Héloïse Théro

Doctorante / PhD candidate

Jessica Massionnié

Doctorante / PhD candidate

Nietzsche Lam

Business developer

Sophie Akkermans

Doctorante / PhD candidate

Izabela Przezdzik

Doctorante / PhD candidate

Sabine Lagarde

Mindfulness expert

External collaborators:

  • CHARLOTTE CHEREL: young designer, she want to conceive product that engage users, here children, in an active use of their attention. She work today on the creation of object that would help the practice of attentive attendance in class.


OCEANA program roles:

Team and project management: Roselyne

Kit improvement / users feedback integration: Sophie / Izabela / Roselyne

Practical exercices formalisation: Isabelle / Sabine

Program promotion / distribution: Caroline & Roselyne (FR) / Nietzsche & Roselyne (NL) / Adeline (EN)

Pedagogic questions answers: Isabelle

Theoretical questions answers: Izabela (EN) / Sophie (NL) / Adeline & Roselyne (FR EN)

Scientific collaboration: Marie (FR) / Adeline & Jessica (EN) / Roselyne (NL)

Scientific evaluation protocol: Marie / Jessica

Video production: Héloïse, Caroline & Isabelle (FR)

OCEANA : What is it?

OCEANA for ‘ Optimisation of Capabilities to Engage and Acquire, using neuroscientific methods’.


What is the program OCEANA?

The objective of this program is to raise the awareness of students via their abilities to pay attention to and learn, in order to optimize their learning process. In this medium, where schools and researchers come together, ideas and resources are pooled to produce innovative teaching methods. However, no one can innovate alone. OCEANA program aim to bring teaching and scientists together to:

  • decrease obstacle
  • innovate with a higher quality production
  • obtain shareable results

As designers of the program, we feel the need to create ethical (learning) products based on validated scientific knowledge and to validate our tools with teachers. To accomplish achieve this we-have called expired upon scientific methods to bring this project to life. OCEANA is the accumulation and realization of a long, multi-stage process combining scientific and teaching methods to produce a positive and lasting impact on children’s education.



Who are the members of OCEANA?

  • Cogni Junior: created by doctoral students in cognitive science and neuroscience to create playful tools to outreach science. Today, this project includes teachers who provide their expertise in teaching and spreading knowledge, as well as fulfilling their wish to provide new teaching methods to present neuroscientific topics to their students. The content of these presentations are developed with scientists in order to develop effective teaching methods, and monitor and improve the teaching experience.
  • Teachers testing the kit: If Cogni’Junior is leading this adventure, it’s because we hope to provide tools that can be use by all, so the use of the kit should not require initial knowledge of neuroscience. It’s with this aim that the team wish to take one year to improve the kit with all feedback that we can get from users. It will get out a unic program, made with and for teachers. After this validation on the pedagogic level, we will lead a scientific validation of the effect of the kit on academic improvement (year 3).

Cogni’junior actions:

  • supervising teachers in the understanding of knowledge and bringing awreness to scientific method
  • collecting scientific literature around key words of the program to integrate most up to date scientific information in the program in a popularize way 
  • creation of the teaching sequence about neuroscience prior to the applied sequence (meditation or other exercises)
  • creation of scientifically validated tools and documentation to help the teaching
  • networking and interaction with partner (JL Berthier, Donders Institute …)

The courses of the program OCEANA

To Ensure a proper validation of this program is Being the carried out, we make use of a 3-year protocol:

  • Year 1 :
    • teaching kit creation: theory part
    • 3 pilot classes (years 2 – 4 – 6) in Nord and South of France
    • translation in english and dutch
    • 1 pilot class in the netherlands
  • Year 2 :
    • validation with the teachers community
    • distribution: 300 hardcopy of the kit available for free (usb key + games)
    • intégration des retours d’utilisateurs
    • création de la partie pratique du kit
    • préparation de la validation scientifique
  • Year 3 :
    • scientific validation
    • collaboration with researchers for it
    • training teachers/creating tutorial video.

OCEANA : Why do we teach neuroscience in class?


Our society evolves as fast at new technological developments do. We want our commodities to be faster and more attractive. Teachers have difficulty with the lack of attention children display in class.

Schools are now faced with this question of how to improve attention and learning: the directors and teachers need to work together to come up with new solutions.  These school work in collaboration with experts in education, researchers, and teachers with innovative teaching methods (e.g., interventions by Francois Taddei or Stanislas Dehaene) to better understand learning processes, and to re-evaluate the teaching processes applied in class.

As a part of this approach, we at OCEANA are working on questions like:

How can we optimise the learning and concentration of students whose behaviour and concentration is being affected by today’s new lifestyle?

Which strategies should we adopt to optimise teaching strategies to facilitate students and teachers?


Today, these issues are rising to prominence and scientific research studies are being conducted within and across the fields of social, cognitive, and neuro-sciences. There are no miracles to improve education, but the conclusions from today’s research on education and learning will be able to facilitate education staff by supporting or rejecting existing teaching strategies and methods.  These research outputs can also guide and inform politicians and educational directors on the direction of education development. Over time, this guidance allows for more partnerships between researchers and educators to be put in place, allowing both parties to succeed and to achieve the goal of action research.

Many functions of the brain are involved in how we learn, these include attention, memory, the regulation of emotions and motivation, and dealing with stress. Naturally, these functions also affect an individual’s well being at school. Certain solutions to improve education and learning, based on cumulative scientific evidence, have already been proposed by researchers. One example is the necessity of sleep to improve retention of (new) information.  Unfortunately, this large demand from educational staff to make use of neuroscientific research to improve teaching methods  requires time. Here, at Cogni Junior, and all related projects, our aim is to begin planting the seeds to provide a fertile environment to test and determine which teaching methods are useful.  In parallel, we want to disclose which methods pretend to be based on neuroscientific knowledge but are in fact not scientifically validated. . Ultimately, for the improvement and education of our future generations,  we hope to minimise the expansion of these non-scientifically-validate teaching methods, while encouraging the growth of scientifically-validated ones.


We are taking support in research showing that:
  • teaching how the brain and learning work imrpove academic achievement: Dekker & Jolles, 2015; Paunesku et al., 2015; Claro & Dweck 2016
  • regulating stress and emotions matters in the developing brain: Hedges & Woon, 2010
  • understand how attention, executives functions, emotions work and can be regulated impact socio-emotional skills and latter professional outcome: Diamond 2010, 2011; Schonert-reichl et al., 2015; Deheane – 2014, Houdé – ongoing school program 2017

OCEANA : References

Discover our readings around the OCEANA program:

View my Flipboard Magazine.


Here is a list of questionnaires used in research to study meditation and education across the literature. If you wish to use them, you should verify the usage licence, if the questionnaire is use for clinical purpose or school purpose : question can be oriented and not adapted to what you want to lead, and if a version in the language that you need exists. Often, you can find short and long version of these questionnaires. At last, verify that question are adapted to you age group (complexity of the questions).

More details

AFTCC : french nonprofit organization for cognitive-behavioral therapy

INSERM Laboratory: Research Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics (bordeaux university): ongoing study to evaluate the effect of “focus, it’s working!” on academic success and well being of students at school.


Main References (see also questionnaires and features that we used)

In the letarature, we took a look at the review from SA Krawietz

Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44–51.

Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M. T., Dariotis, J. K., Gould, L. F., Rhoades, B. L., Leaf, P. J. (2010). Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(7), 985–994.– 9418-x

Schonert-reichl, K. a, Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing Cognitive and Social–Emotional Development Through a Simple-to- Administer Mindfulness-Based School Program for Elementary School

Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52–66.

Albrecht, N. J., Albrecht, P. M., & Cohen, M. (2012). Mindfully teaching in the classroom: A literature review. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(12), 1–14.

Bei, B., Byrne, M. L., Ivens, C., Waloszek, J., Woods, M. J., Dudgeon, P., … Allen, N. B. (2013). Pilot study of a mindfulness-based, multi-component, in-school group sleep intervention in adolescent girls. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 7(2), 213–220.

Black S. et Fernando, R. (2013). Mindfulness training and classroom behavior among lower-income and ethnic minority elementary school children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(7), 1242-1246. doi: 10.1007/S10826-013-9784-4

Britton, W.B., Lepp, N.E., Files, H.F., Rocha, T., Fisher, N.E., & Gold, J.S. (2014). A randomized controlled pilot trial of classroom-based mindfulness meditation compared to an active control condition in sixth-grade children. Journal of School Psychology, 52, 263–278.

Demarzo, M. M. P., Montero-Marin, J., Cuijpers, P., Zabaleta-del-Olmo, E., Mahtani, K. R., Vellinga,  a., … Garcia-Campayo, J. (2015). The Efficacy of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Primary Care: A Meta-Analytic Review. The Annals of Family Medicine, 13(6), 573–582.

Diamond,A. (2010). The Evidence Base for Improving School Outcomes by Adressing the Whole Child and by Adressing Skills and Attitudes, Not Just Content. Early Education and Development, 21(5), 780-793.

Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44–51.

Greenberg, M. T., & Harris, A. R. (2012). Nurturing mindfulness in children and youth: current state of research. Child Development Perspectives, 6(2), 161–166.

Gu, J., Strauss, C., Bond, R., & Cavanagh, K. (2015). How do Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Mediation Studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 1–12.

Hedges, D. W., & Woon, F. L. (2010). Early life stress and cognitive outcome. Psychopharmacology, 214(1), 121–130.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion Books.

Kuyken, W., Weare, K., Ukoumunne, O. C., Vicary, R., Motton, N., Burnett, R., … Huppert, F. (2013). Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: non-randomised controlled feasibility study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 203(2), 126–131.

Lillard, A. S. (2011). Mindfulness Practices in Education: Montessori’s Approach. Mindfulness, 2(2), 78–85.

Meiklejohn, J., Phillips, C., Freedman, M. L., Griffin, M. L., Biegel, G., Roach, A., … Saltzman, A. (2012). Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students. Mindfulness, 3(4), 291–307.

Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M. T., Dariotis, J. K., Gould, L. F., Rhoades, B. L., & Leaf, P. J. (2010). Feasibility and Preliminary Outcomes of a School-Based Mindfulness Intervention for Urban Youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(7), 985–994.

Rempel, K. D. (2012). Mindfulness for Children and Youth : A Review of the Literature with an Argument for School-Based Implementation. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 46(3), 201–220. 1080/0886571080214749710. 1 093/clipsy.bpg01510. 11 86/1477-7525-1-1010.117/153321010731162410. 1 093.clipsy/bph0771 0. 1 01 6/j.cpr.20Q5 .04.00710. 103 7/0022-3514.84.4.82210. 1080/0 16095 1080229096610. 10 16/j.chc.2005.06.00310.1111/i. 1475-35 88.2006.00430.x10.1 01 6/j.tsc.2006.06.00410. 1097/ PEP.0b013e31815fl2081 0. 1 023/B:TOTS0000022620. 1 3209.a010. 1375/bech.27. 1.110.1207/ sl5326985ep2801 410.1 11 1/1467-8721-0009910.1 11 1/0022-4537.0014810. 1 037/0022-006X.72. 1 

Schonert-reichl, K. a, Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing Cognitive and Social–Emotional Development Through a Simple-to-Administer Mindfulness-Based School Program for Elementary School Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52–66.

Sibinga, E. M. S., Perry-Parrish, C., Chung, S., Johnson, S. B., Smith, M., & Ellen, J. M. (2013). School-based mindfulness instruction for urban male youth: A small randomized controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 57(6), 799–801.

Snel, E. Calme et attentif comme une grenouille : La méditation pour les enfants…avec leurs parents. Paris : Arènes.

Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools_a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(June), 1–20.

OCEANA : education materials

Designers, teachers and researchers are coming together to create a multidisciplinary team and to engage in a “neuro-responsible” project: tools and content get scientific validation steps by creators of the program.

The Teaching Kit: 3 goals

1) apprehend

Most children have some concept of the brain, and what it does, but not all of this information is based on scientific evidence. Therefore, the first part of the OCEANA program aims to make children aware  of and encourage them to ask questions about their current knowledge of the brain, and then build up to teaching them, real, scientific information about how the brain. This approach to teaching is a cooperative way that enables an active involvement in the task of interest. Children interact with each other and their teachers, and come up with question to share with the class. By doing this, we get children interested, and start training them to think logically and creatively – we’re making them (very) young researchers!

2) understand

Playful tools had been created to bring the scientific knowledge in a non magistrate way to children. Vocabulary is introduce inside comics, story and games so it is better memorized.
Remain to the teacher to make the reading interactive. Notes that we offer more information that is necessary for the kids but it helps a deep understanding of concept which strengthen a long term knowledge memorization. However it remain important for the teacher to pin point essential points that he thinks matter.

3) regulate

Practical exercises and tips are proposed inside the teaching kit to learn how to regulate ones’ mental state. They are of multiple type depending of the concept taught, but all were selected from studies showing a positive effect. Do not hesitate to makes children practice even after the teaching is over. 

Kit content

The teaching kit have 17 sessions of about 1h teaching (minimum). It’s up to you to adapt it to fit your way of teaching. You can make more sessions of shorter length. You can use session in a different order or choose those that matter to you. You can take more time between session to make practice tips longer before switching to another concept.

We offer you a guideline, but you can also see it as a menu.

In the kit we introduce:

  • stress
  • neurobiology: neurons, their communication, what is it to “learn”?
  • cognitive functions linked to learning: memory, attention, inhibition/control, emotions
  • needs of the brain: food, sleep, sport …
To do this we are using:
  • a tale
  • comics (11)
  • games (4)
  • collaborative activities of discovery
  • practical activities

After the completion of this program, we aim for children to have experienced a high level of neuroscientific knowledge, and to be better equipped to engage in exercises to apply this newly acquired knowledge.