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 2017, faculty from the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies organized an interactive exhibit “Robo-Brain!” as a platform for the community to learn about neuroprosthetics, neuroscience and brain health. The main event was held at a local science museum, the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science (, in a hands-on laboratory exhibit area. Visitors from across the region were introduced to the lab via a short powerpoint/video (continuously looped on a prominent LCD screen) illustrating how electrical signals from the brain are used to command muscle movements, and how electrical muscle potentials can be used to control movement of a plastic claw. Once visitors entered the lab area, they 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 operated a robotic claw by contracting their own muscles, via an EMG interface (Backyard Brains Inc, Ann Arbor, MI). The visitors visualized their muscle potentials, and then used the claw to pick up a toy brain. Scientists and visitors discussed how neuroprostethics could use a similar strategy to control a prosthetic hand by using electrical potentials from the motor cortex. Scientist volunteers were given detail instructions on the activity and trained before their shift. The exhibit was staffed by 31 scientists and students and approximately 425 children and 205 adults came through the exhibit over the 5 days (4-6 hr/day).

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:

  • It’s Mindboggling!
  • More Mindbogglers!
  • BAW Stickers
  • BAW Pencils and 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 move the robotic claw by contracting 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

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Contact Information

BAW Website:


Contact Name:

Donita Robinson

Contact Phone:


Contact Email:

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