Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa)

Organized by:
Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa)

Participating Organizations:

The Neuroscience and Persons (NAPs) Program, an undergraduate career concentration program here at Northwestern College, sponsored the program.

Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:

During BAW, only the elementary school outreach



Type of Events Held:

  • School Program

Target Audiences:

  • 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 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 neurons, 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, etc. Though not occurring during BAW, I also offer annual fieldtrips to the college here (“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 high schools participate annually. We don’t do it during the BAW week because the A&P teachers prefer to do the fieldtrips at the end of the semester or at the end of the school year to review their A&P.

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Other

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 am going to offer the outreaches again 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:

  • BAW Stickers
  • BAW Pencils
  • Brain-shaped Erasers

Feedback & Keys to Success

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

The elementary and high school teachers always express their tremendous appreciation. As the elementary 5th grade science teacher says almost every year, having me come is the highlight of the year for his students. One high school CCE math & science teacher wrote: “I would like to thank you for the great morning you provided my students… After talking with my students and some of their parents these students are very excited about reaching their goals in a health profession. Thank you.”

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

Same advice as previously: I use some of the same models and learning materials for both the 5th grade and also for the high school anatomy and physiology students (e.g., dissected cat nervous system, sheep brains, brain and spinal cord models, etc.). I even use them for my intro college general ed course in A&P and my human anatomy course when we are studying the nervous system. So if you put together a basic BAW program with a variety of materials and also teach biology courses at a college, you can use the materials for multiple purposes. I have also used them for educational neuroscience outreaches in public libraries as well. So once you have all these things, just store them in a readily accessible place (like big storage tubs) and they are pretty much ready to go when you need them, thus reducing the work load associated with finding and collecting them together for your next outreach or classroom teaching session.

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Contact Information

BAW Website:


Contact Name:

Ralph Davis

Contact Phone:


Contact Email:

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