Brain Awareness Week

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Brain Awareness Week at the UCLA Brain Research Institute

Organized by:
Brain Awareness Week at the UCLA Brain Research Institute

Participating Organizations:
Society for Neuroscience & Dana Foundation Brain Awareness Week grant

Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:

3

Year:

2021

Type of Events Held:

  • Brain Fair
  • Lab Tour

Target Audiences:

  • Elementary school students (1-5)
  • Middle school students (6-8)

Approximate Number of People Reached:

363

Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:

March 15-17, we presented interactive lessons and demonstrations to ~363 middle/elementary school-aged students and educated them about typical brain structure, function, behavior, and a variety of brain pathologies. All activities were virtual and conducted on Zoom. With the funds from the SfN-Dana Foundation grant, we purchased supplies to conduct a taste-perception experiment with our attendees. We arranged over 500 experiment kits with 2-servings of Miraculin berry, lemon juice packets, a scientific notebook, coloring sheets, and Dana Foundation workbooks, stickers, pencils, and brain erasers to participating schools. The remaining supplies were shared with Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador to coordinate international neuroscience outreach, a newly initiated collaboration. Our results suggest that participants' perceptions of sweet-sour taste were shifted in the test condition and not in the control. Participant knowledge of neuroscience increased following the events, and volunteer participants' confidence in their abilities to effectively teach neuroscience also improved following the events. Surveys revealed that participants identified as Hispanic or Latino (43.5%), American Indian or Alaska Native (4.1%), Asian (15.9%), Black or African American (9.4%), and White (34.7%). In sum, student participants gain insightful, interactive exposure to STEM and are encouraged to pursue higher education and a career in neuroscience. Undergraduate volunteers improve their teaching and communication skills and crystallize their neuroscience knowledge, and graduate/postdoctoral trainees, staff, and faculty receive an opportunity to exercise their expertise and leadership ability.

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Advertisements
  • Emails
  • Posters/Flyers
  • Website
  • Social Media

Which of These Publicity Methods Was The Most Successful?

Emails were the most successful.

Resources

What downloadable materials from the Foundation did you use for your events?

  • Puzzles: Grades 3-5
  • Puzzles: Grades 6-8
  • Kids' Fact Sheets Grades 3-5
  • Kids' Fact Sheets Grades 6-8
  • Lesson Plans Grades K-5
  • Lesson Plans Grades 6-8
  • Q&A: Answering Your Questions About the Brain Booklet
  • More Mindbogglers! Booklet
  • The Mindboggling Workbook
  • Successful Aging & Your Brain Booklet

What other downloadable materials would you like the Foundation to provide?

  • Activities/Experiments

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

  • Brain Awareness Week Logos

Feedback & Keys to Success

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

The UCLA BRI and USFQ Neurosciences Institute’s outreach events were well received by the students and teachers who visited campus virtually and undergraduate and graduate volunteers who guided the lessons. There are many advantages to using technology to reach broader educational audiences. Notably, schools that are farther away from city centers and thus provide less access to metropolitan amenities to travel digitally to gain knowledge on topics of interest to learners worldwide.

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

There are limitations when using digital classroom resources, including access to a reliable internet connection, less one-on-one or face-time with students, and lack the integral aspects subjects like Neuroscience require such as analysis, conversation, feedback, and give and take. To mitigate these factors, we focused our virtual field trips on key demonstrations that would engage students by conducting experiments; yet scheduling constraints relied on pre-recorded demos provided by undergraduate and graduate volunteers. While practical, these methods should be used as a last resort. Participant feedback forms confirm that the most cherished activities had hands-on components and engaged more than one sense, besides visual engagements. Still, many students reported they were simply happy to have the opportunity to learn more about the brain and discuss with current college students.

Did/do you like our Facebook page?

Yes

Was the information provided on Facebook useful?

The information provided on the Dana Foundation website is most useful.

Event Photos

event single

UCLA BAW experiment and info packets

event single

Virtual lab tour and learning about social behavior

event single

Learning about brain lobes and what happens in disease models

event single

Learning about brain structure and function

event single

Super engaged group of students with hands raised for questions

Contact Information

BAW Website:

http://www.bri.ucla.edu/outreach/brain-awareness-week

Contact Name:

Jamie Mondello

Contact Phone:

(310) 825-5061

Contact Email:

bri@mednet.ucla.edu

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