Super Neuroscience Saturday Event Inspires Students
Nearly 100 twelve to fourteen year old students from DC public schools engaged in hands-on activities designed to teach them about the brain as a part of “Super Neuroscience Saturday,” an event organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). SfN was invited to present creative games and displays that would inspire young students to learn and develop a curiosity about neuroscience.
“The students were very interested and engaged in the presentations,” said Bobby Heagerty, an SfN member from Oregon Health and Science University who discussed the role of neurons and displayed a human brain. “It was very striking to me that, though most of the students lived right around the corner, many had never been to a museum before. The opportunity to learn about the brain and how it works was a wonderful way to get kids passionate about science, and they seemed very enthusiastic.”
The event was held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, where Heagerty and other working neuroscientists set up hands-on learning stations to help students explore concepts such as brain anatomy, attention, and memory. Heagerty’s demonstration also engaged the students about the brain’s ability to change with experience, and she suggested activities that positively shape the brain. SfN member Mike Burman of the University of New England demonstrated how memory works by teaching students how to employ a mnemonic device called the Method of Loci to remember items on a shopping list, and by leading them through an experience to show how multitasking slows the brain. Another display demonstrated a neuroprosthetic arm, and how it is controlled by signals from the brain. SfN President Carol Mason and neuroscientists from George Washington University and the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University also attended.
“Super Neuroscience Saturday” continued into the evening with a series of lectures at the American Association for the Advancement of Science on ways to foster communication between neuroscientists, policy makers, and the public. Shari Ling of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Elizabeth Albro of the National Center for Education Research, and Hunter Peckham of Case Western Reserve University were guests on the panel moderated by Philip Rubin, the Principal Assistant Director for Science at OSTP. The evening concluded with a poster session showcasing work from scientists at local Washington, DC universities and government agencies.