Brain awareness, outreach, and fun with science!

Hi everyone, Kristen here finally on the neuro blogosphere. I got to NOLA Saturday afternoon and my first order of business was heading straight to the annual Brain Awareness Week Campaign event. I currently work at the University of New England as a lab technician and coordinator of their K-12 outreach program, so we presented a poster about our program and talked with other out-reachers about their programs. The programs ranged from 1 day events with a single classroom to yearlong programs reaching hundreds of people. The most striking similarity between the programs was that they are all run by neuroscientists or neuroscience students who want to inspire children to be interested in neuroscience. Some programs sponsored brain-bees for high school students to compete in, while others taught 3rd graders about neurons, but everyone wanted to inspire children to pursue science education.

If there are only 2 things I learned about kids in my 3 years as a camp counselor, they are that kids are curious and they like to talk about their selves, so what better way to get them interested in science than by teaching them about their own brain? People at the BAW campaign had some very creative ways to teach neuroscience to kids as well. A video by students at the University of Texas used sock puppets to represent neural circuits in the brain, while other program teach about cerebral spinal fluid with an egg! Other programs offer tours of labs, a great way to show kids what science really is. I think all of these programs are extremely important for the development of scientists of the future and I would encourage any neuroscience student to participate in outreach if possible.   What could be more fun than helping kids learn about brains by smashing eggs and making sock puppet videos?  If you haven’t yet, check out the SFN Brain Awareness Week website and watch the videos there. They also have great resources for anyone interested in holding their own Brain Awareness week event.

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