This year, as in years past, Neuroscience GSA members were extremely enthusiastic about Brain Awareness Week, which was held throughout the months of March and May. Elementary, middle, and high school aged students spanning three different schools participated the Brain Awareness Week, including students from Hutch-Tech High School, Buffalo, NY; Heim Middle School, Williamsville, NY; and PS 89 Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence, Buffalo, NY. This was a great event for the students to experience and for many it was their first exposure with neuroscience-related topics. Various hands-on stations were set up to familiarize students with basic concepts in neuroscience, which included introduction to anatomy with specimens in the brain museum, microscopy looking at various sections from multiple species, olfaction demonstrations using scents of assorted items, touch and reflex, attention, and visual exercises.
Students were able to visit the brain museum, which houses numerous brain specimens that depict different sections and various disease states. The microscopy section showed the students how to use a basic microscope and visualize different slides that included mouse spinal cord sections, slices from monkey cerebellum, giant polar neurons, and taste bud slides. Paper bags of assorted scents were used to explain how different scents are transduced through signaling. Various items were placed in bags for the students to touch to see if they could figure out what that item was without seeing it. Students had their basic reflexes tested. Attention and visual exercises were also performed to show the students how our brains process information to enable perception and focused behavior.
Brain Awareness week is a great opportunity for students to learn about neuroscience that wouldn’t necessarily get this exposure in the classroom at such a young age. The best part about this event was getting to see all of the cards the students drew and colored for us as a thank you for teaching them and letting us know how much fun they had.