Neuroscience and Persons (NAPs) Program at Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa, USA)

Organized by:
Neuroscience and Persons (NAPs) Program at Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa, USA)

Participating Organizations:


Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:

one during BAW



Type of Events Held:

  • School Program

Target Audiences:

  • Elementary school students(1-5)

Approximate Number of People Reached:


Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:

I did my usual hands-on introduction to neuroscience at the local public elementary school for the three 5th grade science classes which I’ve been doing for about 9 or 10 years now. After a brief presentation on the structure, lobes, etc. of the brain and an interactive demonstration of how neurons signal, the students do a wide variety of hands-on learning experiences showing how the nervous system works, from cells, synapses and neurotransmitters to whole brain anatomy, physiology and neural diseases. Activities include looking at chemical models of neurotransmitters, lock & key manipulatives for synaptic/neurotransmitter-receptor function, microscopic viewing of neurons & NMJs, making model neurons out of Play-Doh, models of peripheral nerve structure, sheep brain dissections, study of a cadaver brain, spinal cord and other models, wiring students up for pulse monitoring, etc. Though not occurring during BAW I also offered annual fieldtrips (“Morning of Cadaver and Neuroscience Study”) for regional high school Human Anatomy & Physiology classes to the college where I teach for cadaver-study and an introduction to neuroscience using a variety of age-level adjusted manipulatives (see above) as well as a visit to my neuroscience research lab. This year 3 high school human A&P classes participated. We don’t do it during the scheduled BAW week because the state basketball tournament conflicts with it, so we do this outreach at the end of the spring/fall semesters.

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Other

Other Publicity Methods:

No advertising is involved. Since I have been doing these outreaches for many years now, the teachers contact me and ask me when is the next convenient date that we can do them.

Which of These Publicity Methods Was The Most Successful?



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 Pencils and Erasers

Feedback & Keys to Success

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

I always receive nice thank you notes from the teachers. I know it’s valued, because it’s the teachers that contact me about when I can come to their school or they can come to the college campus for a visit. This year the 5th grade students all made “thank you” notes that were delivered to me at the end of the week. These consisted of colorful drawings of labeled neurons and brains, indicating that much was learned by the students.

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

Don’t worry about doing new things/re-inventing the wheel each year. I haven’t changed much in what I offer at the BAW events for the last 9-10 years I’ve offered them. If you have an interesting program for the kids that is interactive as much as possible, it will be great. I ask the teachers if they want me to change anything and they always say, “Don’t change a thing! The kids love it and it’s a highlight of the year.”

Did/do you like our Facebook page?


Quotable comments which capture successful aspects of your event(s):

At the end of this year's elementary school program, as I was taking things down to my van and getting ready to leave, I overheard one of the students in the hallway talking excitedly with a teacher. The conversation went something like this: Student: Hey, Mr. S. Did you ever hold a human brain? Mr. S.: No, I can't say that I ever have. Student: We had this brain guy come in science class and he had a real human brain and I held it - AWESOME!!!

Contact Information

BAW Website:


Contact Name:

Ralph Davis

Contact Phone:


Contact Email:

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