Brain Awareness Week Recap
By: Amanda Labuza
You would think after participating in the same event for 5 years, I’d run out of things to say about it. That’s how long I have been participating in Brain Awareness Week. The wonderful thing about it is that it doesn’t get old. Every time you go, it is a different experience.
Every year during the national Brain Awareness Week (BAW), NOVA goes to local schools to teach kids about the brain. In the past we have gone to high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. This year we went to two inner city middle schools. We took over science class for the entire day. We used actual brains, cricket legs, and human-human EMG to get the students interested in neuroscience.
It is always fun to watch the kids react to science. So much of science class in middle school is learning vocabulary words and drawing diagrams. It is a series of memorized facts. But science is ment to be hands on, as we all know. It is meant to be observed. BAW gives the students a chance to not just learn about science, but experience science.
The students were so excited to hold a real human brain. Most of them couldn’t believe it was real! I got to use an EMG to show the students how our body uses electricity. They took turns making each other's fingers contract using the electricity in their own muscles. The initial response was a scream of surprise. After the exaggerated screams though, they got to see that both or nerves and muscles use electricity for signaling. We discussed how robotic limbs use the electricity in our nerves to control mechanical fingers. We showed them science can make a difference.
While we had a great time interacting with the students, the most rewarding part always comes at the end of the day. We asked if any of them are now interested in neuroscience, and a few raised their hands. It is wonderful to think we may have inspired a student or two. Even if they don’t go into neuroscience, I hope we showed a few of them science can be exciting. After five years, it is still my favorite part. If you’d like to join in this rewarding activity, join NOVA and look for annoucements for next year’s BAW!