March is Brain Awareness Month

Kim Maguschak, BAM Coordinator

Originally published February 2007.

The Society for Neuroscience has identified March 12-18th as Brain Awareness Week (BAW). BAW is a series of events held worldwide to increase public awareness about the brain. The Atlanta Chapter for the Society of Neuroscience (ACSFN) participates in this event by educating K-12 students in the greater Atlanta area. However, because of the increased enthusiasm among local educators, we have extended BAW to include the entire month of March, and thus we celebrate Brain Awareness Month (BAM). Consequently, we need more volunteers to support this exciting event. As eloquently described by Pete Wenner, a neuroscience faculty member and veteran BAM volunteer, participation in this event can be a very rewarding experience:

sulcus61I gave a brief presentation to about 100 3rd graders, including my daughter, about Brain Awareness Week at Evansdale Elementary. I hadn’t realized that the “teaching brains” that I was picking up to take to the presentation were real brains, and even a human brain. I wasn’t absolutely certain that this would be appropriate for kids that were so young. I just didn’t know how they would respond, but decided to give it a shot. It turned out that I was able to hold their attention during the presentation, probably because I promised that if they listened I would bring out some real animal brains at the end. When I showed them the mouse brains I got several oohs and ahhhhs. Then the cat brain and spinal cord – they got very excited and asked me if it was a human brain. Then came the monkey brain and they gasped.

sulcus62When I pulled out the human brain they went nuts, and gave a raucous scream that caused teachers passing in the hall to come in and check out what was going on. The kids asked if it was a whale or an elephant brain. When I told them it was a human brain they absolutely burst out, giving a thunderous shriek, part horror but mainly amazement, and I will never forget it. It was indescribably thrilling for the kids, but also for me. The kids were great; they were fascinated and were asking questions until they had to be stopped so they could get to their next class. I felt that I had made a connection and must admit that I enjoyed it more than anyone else.

______________________

If you would like to participate in BAM 2007, please contact Kim Maguschak at kmagusc@emory.edu.

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