Category Archives: Brain Awareness Week

Girl Scouts of WNY “Go to Neuro School”

The Girl Scouts coming to UB was a new event held by the Neuroscience GSA this year. There were approximately 40 Girl Scouts and parents that attended this event. The girls varied in ages and included a mix from elementary to high school. The stations that the students from the Neuro GSA had set up were similar to the Brain Awareness week activities. The girls got a tour of the brain museum. Then we had various stations set up that the girls rotated through, which included anatomy (in which they got to see and touch a real human brain), microscopy of various slides, touch and reflex, and scent/hearing/taste. The last section included interactive presentations on vision, cognition, and graduate school and careers in science.

The girls’ parents and neuroscience students also had a great chance to communicate about the experience of getting into and attending graduate school as well as what they study and what the various job opportunities are in academia and outside of it. It was a great opportunity to interact with the girls and find out about their interests.

At the end the students from the Neuroscience GSA had lunch with the Girl Scouts and their parents. They discussed more direct ways of how to get into graduate school and the parents raised lots of questions. They were already discussing setting a date to come back next year. These events are really great opportunities for the neuroscience graduate students to get to interact and teach students about what we do and to get them excited about science.

Brain Awareness Week Events 2014

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.

Brain Awareness Week 2013

This past Spring, members of the NeuroGSA joined forces with the UB Brain Museum to breathe new life into Brain Awareness Week 2013.  Traditionally, the NeuroGSA has traveled to local schools, materials in-hand, to deliver interactive learning demonstrations to students within their own classrooms.  This year, with the collaboration of Brain Museum curator Dr. Christopher Cohan and the Center for Urban Studies coordinator Gavin Luter, the NeuroGSA was able to invite schools to take field trips to UB’s South Campus.  This change in venue allowed for the NeuroGSA to connect students to the Brain Museum and the anatomy laboratories of the Biomedical Education Building, while expanding their resources for scientific investigation.

Fourteen UB graduate students demonstrated various topics of neuroscience including anatomy, cellular biology, attention and perception, reflexes and nerves, and sensory systems.  Anatomy was explored using fixed human brains and cow eyes; cells were visualized by microscopy of brain and tongue sections from mouse and monkey; attention and perception were explained with video and props; nerves were investigated with reflex hammers and an electrical stimulator; auditory sensation was examined with tuning forks; olfactory and tactile sensation were tested by identification of mysterious scents and textured items.  Finally, visiting students also spent time in the Brain Museum where Dr. Cohan led a discussion about brain disease and the specimen on display.

The schools which participated in Brain Awareness Week were Futures Academy High School from downtown Buffalo and Heim Middle School from Williamsville.  The NeuroGSA members who volunteered were: Tom Covey, Lara Duffney, John Fleites, Jay Garaycochea, Sushmitha Gururaj, Mateen Haroon, Tad Kaczynski, Nived Nair, Naomi McKay, Claire Modica, Tenzin Ngodup, Kim Plyler, Tony Sacca, and Philip Whalen.  The fixed brain and eyes, brain and tongue sections, microscopes, reflex hammers, and tuning forks were provided by Dr. Cohan and the Brain Museum.  The electrical stimulator was provided by the Biological Sciences Department.  The video and visual props for attention and perception, as well as the collection of items to identify by touch and smell, were gathered and prepared by members of the NeuroGSA.  Name tags for the NeuroGSA and visiting students were provided by Dr. Ray Dannenhoffer.  Uniform t-shirts, designed by the NeuroGSA, were provided by Dr. Malcolm Slaughter and the Neuroscience Program.

In the months since March, Brain Awareness Week has elongated into a year-round relationship between the NeuroGSA and the Brain Museum.  Neuroscience graduate students have continued to participate in field trips other schools have scheduled to the Brain Museum, thereby expanding NeuroGSA’s ongoing community service and investment in local educational enrichment.

If you would like to volunteer with the NeuroGSA, or you know of a class which would like to learn about neuroscience, please email with your inquiry.

Brain Awareness Week 2012

On Monday, April 2nd (2012), the Neuroscience Club once again took part in Brain Awareness Week, a community outreach program initiated by the Society for Neuroscience to increase awareness about the brain and behavior.  Members of the Neuroscience Club brought fun and interactive demonstrations to two different schools.  For the morning session they visited Heim Middle School in Williamsville, NY, and for the afternoon session they visited Highgate Heights Elementary in Buffalo, NY.  These demonstrations were the first real exposure to Neuroscience for many of these students, and they were enthusiastic, curious, and engaged.

The demonstrations were organized and run by members of the Neuroscience Club, which consists of graduate students from the Neuroscience Program and the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at the University at Buffalo.  The elementary/middle school students were shown human, sheep, and rat brain specimens, viewed slides of the brain through a microscope, learned about attention and perception, and took part in interactive demonstrations that illustrated how their senses integrate information.  These demonstrations provided a fun introduction to brain anatomy and physiology, sensory perception, and behavior.  The event was very well received by the students and faculty at both Heim Middle School and Highgate Heights Elementary School.  This continues the Neuroscience Club’s proud tradition of Brain Awareness Week events and community outreach.  This is the 5th consecutive year that the Neuroscience Club has visited local elementary and/or middle schools for Brain Awareness Week, and they look to carry this tradition well into the future.

The following Neuroscience Club members provided their time and effort to make the event a success:   Jia Cheng, Tom Covey, Lara Duffney, John Fleites, Jay Garaycochea, Mateen Haroon, Sarah Hayes, Tad Kaczynski, Jason Kushner, Ginger Lasky, Yina Ma, Claire Modica, Meaghan Paganelli, Kim Plyler, Daniel Stolzberg, and Pete Vento.  In addition to the hard work of Neuroscience Club members, this event was well supported by members of the faculty at the University at Buffalo.  Dr. Malcolm Slaughter and the Neuroscience Program provided financial support for the event and provided lunch for the graduate students.  Dr. Joan Baizer provided the brain slides, Dr. Derek Daniels provided the sheep and rat brain specimens, and Dr. Michal Stachowiak provided the human brain specimens.  Dr. Ray Dannenhoffer made the name tags for all of the students.  Thanks to the support of the faculty and the hard work of the Neuroscience GSA members, this year’s Brain Awareness Week was another huge success!

See below for a few pictures from this year’s Brain Awareness Week:

Students learning about brain anatomy using a sheep brain specimen

Students being shown a human brain

Attention and perception demonstration

Students being taught about brain physiology

Student viewing microscope slides

An interactive demonstration about sensory input