Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina

Organized by:
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina

Participating Organizations:

North Carolina Life + Science Museum, Durham, NC

Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:




Type of Events Held:

  • Exhibit

Target Audiences:

  • Elementary school students(1-5)
  • General Public
  • High School students(9-12)
  • Middle school students(6-8)
  • Other
  • Other: Preschool

Approximate Number of People Reached:


Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:

For Brain Awareness Week 2018, scientists from the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies organized an interactive exhibit “Race Your Brain!” as a platform for the community to learn about how sensory information is used to control behavior. At a local science museum, the North Carolina Museum of Life + Science (, visitors from across the region first explored the human brain by observing and touching a postmortem human brain, a sheep brain and a brain/skull model. Scientists talked with visitors about which parts of the brain control movement, and how electrical signals transmit information from the brain to muscles quickly. Next, visitors entered a lab area for the “Race Your Brain” activity, in which they used a portable EMG unit (Backyard Brains, Ann Arbor, MI) attached to adhesive electrodes to visualize the muscle potentials from contacting forearm muscles. A Reaction Timer unit (Backyard Brains) and the Backyard Brains app allowed them to record muscle potentials in response to either sound or light stimuli. After recording a few trials, scientists helped the visitors to measure their reaction times to determine whether they were faster to an auditory or visual stimulus. Data from all of the visitors was compiled throughout the day and projected on a prominent LCD screen in the lab space. Scientist volunteers were given detailed instructions on the activity and trained before their shift. The exhibit was staffed by 33 scientists and students. Approximately 560 children and adults participated in the “Race Your Brain” activity over the 5 days (4-6 hr/day), with many more engaging with the brain exhibit. We discussed brain health (wearing a helmet, eating healthy food, not using drugs/alcohol).

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Emails
  • Posters/Flyers
  • Website
  • Social Media

Which of These Publicity Methods Was The Most Successful?

We were listed on the museum website and on flyers and signs within the museum. The museum send emails to its members. The museum has a consistent stream of visitors made up primarily of school groups on field trips and families.


Of the Dana Foundation publications/resources distributed at your event(s), if any, please indicate the three most popular. Please choose up to three. If "other," please indicate below:

  • Q&A: Answering Your Questions About The Brain
  • Staying Sharp Bookmark
  • BAW Stickers
  • BAW Pencils
  • Brain-shaped Erasers

Which BAW graphic materials did you use in publicizing your events?

  • BAW Logos

Feedback & Keys to Success

How do you feel BAW participation benefited your organization and the local community?

BAW participation benefited the community by providing fun and engaging interaction with local scientists. The children and adults that visited reported that it was exciting to see real brains and see how quickly they could contract their muscles. Participation also benefited our organization by providing UNC students and scientists with an outlet for community outreach and the chance to deliver a prevention message for general brain health and responsible alcohol drinking.

Please share any suggestions or lessons learned that may help others plan future events:

We provided volunteers with a detailed “script” for each activity to help them to interact with visitors. We scheduled overlapping “shifts” that allowed new staff to learn by watching before taking over.

Did/do you like our Facebook page?


Event Photos

event single

Contact Information

BAW Website:


Contact Name:

Donita Robinson

Contact Phone:


Contact Email:

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