University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Brain Awareness Day

October 19, 2011 - 2:00am -- Hillary Lauren

10 years of bringing neuroscience to the community

The 2011 annual Brain Awareness Day was held at the Orpheum Childrens Science Museum on Saturday April 9th. Project Neuron joined the University of Illinoiss Neuroscience program in engaging and educating the local community about the human bodys most mysterious asset, the brain. The free event was open to the public and well received. Within four hours 462 members of the community interacted with the many talented volunteers from the University of Illinois and participated in activities and exhibits demonstrating many of the numerous functions of the brain. The participants of Brain Awareness Day were primarily between grades K-12, but all members of the community were welcomed to join in. Each exhibit was designed to present neuroscience related topics in an approachable manner for all ages.

University of Illinois undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral students, and faculty from both the College of Education and the Neuroscience program designed and presented the exhibits at Brain Awareness Day. Many exhibits demonstrated visual-stunning and thought-provoking interactive examples of modern neuroscience research. A few showcased the development of the human brain and various species differences in brain size. Several exhibits provided entertaining and sensory challenging tasks such as determining the flavor of a candy without the visual cues of color and brain-twisting optical illusions. Others provided brief but thorough explanations of topics such as neuroanatomy, sensory systems such as vision, taste, and smell, motor systems, neuronal biology, and even circadian rhythms.

For ten years the University of Illinois’s Neuroscience program has held Brain Awareness Day at a local venue. This brain science fair is a highly anticipated annual community event made possible by the time and dedication of the students and faculty of the University of Illinois Neuroscience program and College of Education. Each exhibit attempts to present neuroscience in a fun and engaging manner to the community. But more so, each exhibit strives to foster the interest of the K-12 members of the community in both science and critical thinking. Even the faintest spark of scientific intrigue in a single child may one day pave the road for the next generation of scientific discovery. The dedication of both Project Neuron and the University of Illinois’s Neuroscience program reflect a continuous effort not only towards the local community, but also as part of a global campaign within the scientific community to realize this vision for the entire world.