Print Email Facebook Twitter Release Share Font Size: A A A A
The next generation
Kids Judge! Brain models, neuroscience made fun
Monday, Mar. 7, 2005
By Lindsey Van De Vanter
WSU Today intern
WSU Today intern
About 100 local fifth graders will boost their brain power by participating in the Third Annual Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair, 9 a.m-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in the CUB ballroom.
The interactive fair will allow students to learn about the brain’s physiology and function through judging brain models that were put together for a WSU undergraduate neurophysiology course. Brain models will highlight topics such as brain electrical currents, neurons, hearing, taste and memory.
The course, Neuro 430, is taught by David M. Rector, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology. Rector believes his students learn best when they break down concepts and teach them to others, especially young people.
It is also important for scientists to be able to communicate their ideas in a way that the general public will understand, Rector said, and the brain model project is a way for his students to develop this skill.
Students in the course create the models with the specific intent of making them comprehensible to fifth graders. At the fair, the undergraduates make 15-minute presentations about their models, including an overview of the concepts and demonstrations. The fifth graders then judge the brain models based on how well they understand the concepts being taught.
“It doesn’t matter how old you get, people learn best by doing,” said Sandi Brabb, assistant director of the neuroscience program in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Kids Judge! event coordinator. “Teaching reinforces learning.”
Brabb said not only is the program beneficial for the college students competing, but it also exposes children to science at a very formative time of their life.
More than 75 percent of children who say they want to go into a particular career in fourth or fifth grade will end up going into that field or a related field, Rector said.
“It’s a very impressionable age,” he said. “It’s a critical time for brain development.”
Brabb gives the fifth graders pre-surveys and post-surveys on their perceptions of neuroscience to see if the children’s exposure to neuroscience impacts their ideas about it.
“The post-surveys show that their ideas change,” Brabb said. “All of the sudden, it’s become fun. In many cases, they say ‘I want to be a neuroscientist when I grow up.’”
Students in Neuro 430 with the best presentations will be sent to the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C., to present their projects before neuroscience professionals.
The event is sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and the National Kids Judge! Partnership. It coincides with national Brain Awareness Week, which will take place March 14-20.
Those interested in volunteering at the fair can contact Brabb at 335-2190 or email@example.com. Some volunteer jobs include setting up for the event the day before, helping lead children through exhibits and counting ballots during the event. No experience in science is necessary to help, and students may get volunteer credit for classes through the Community Service Learning Center.
Brabb also offers two marketing/communication internships that are recognized through the School of Communication. The internships include event planning, overseeing volunteers, marketing and communication work. For more information, contact Brabb as described above.