Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:
During BAW, only the elementary school outreach
Type of Events Held:
- School Program
- Elementary school students(1-5)
- High School students(9-12)
Approximate Number of People Reached:
Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:
I have been offering two types of Brain Awareness outreach events in northwest Iowa for over 10 years. These events are conducted under the auspices of a small interdisciplinary neuroscience program I started in 2004 here at Northwestern College (where I teach) called the Neuroscience and Persons (NAPs) Program. One outreach is the traditional BAW outreach during Brain Awareness Week in our local elementary school. For that I did my usual hands-on introduction to neuroscience for the three separate 5th grade science classes. After a brief interactive presentation on nervous system structure & function, students do a wide variety of hands-on learning experiences covering cells, synapses and neurotransmitters all the way up 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, 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, drawing the brain on swim caps, etc. Though not occurring during BAW, I also offer annual fieldtrips to the college (“Morning of Neuroscience & Cadaver Study”) for regional high school Human Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) classes. They involve cadaver-study and an introduction to neuroscience using a variety of age-level adjusted manipulatives as well as a visit to my neuroscience research lab. Approximately 4 or 5 high schools participate annually. We don’t do it during the scheduled BAW week because the A&P teachers prefer to do the fieldtrips at the end of the semester to review A&P.
Event Planning & Publicity
Other Publicity Methods:
I've been doing these outreaches so long that the teachers of the elementary and high schools usually email me to ask if I will offer the outreaches each year and to finalize dates and times. Occasionally, I remember and contact them first by email, but everything is done by email.
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!
- BAW Stickers
- BAW Pencils and Erasers
- The Mindboggling Workbook
Feedback & Keys to Success
How do you feel BAW participation benefited your organization and the local community?
Sometimes I have my undergraduate neuroscience research students, students in my neuroscience courses or undergraduate biology science education majors from the college help with the outreaches. The teachers in the schools love the outreaches. Some years the teacher has the students all sign a single card. This year the 5th grade teacher brought me a big envelope with dozens of hand-made, colorful and very creative thank-yous where students drew brains & wrote about what they had learned.
Please share any suggestions or lessons learned that may help others plan future events:
I’ve said this before, but the real key for me since I have so many manipulatives, models, etc. to take or have available is my trusty checklist. Once you’ve done it, just make up a check-list of all the things you need. I’ve done that and it really is just a matter of gathering everything together in big bins and you’re ready to go. I have about 4 or 5 big storage bins that have all the components I need, so I rarely forget anything now that I’ve been doing the BAW outreach for so many years.
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