You use it every day and need it to function, but do you ever really stop to think about your brain? Brain Awareness Week is program sponsored by Colorado State University that teaches high school- and college-age students about the complexities and intricacies of the brain.
The annual event, April 8-9 at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, will educate students about several topics dealing with the nervous system and diseases that affect the nervous system. Demonstrations highlight concepts including neuroanatomy, epilepsy, sensory systems and synaptic transmission. The program aims to explain neuroscience and brain research to students in an interactive way to reinforce key ideas.
“I get excited every year about Brain Awareness Week because it enables me to work with some fantastic people at CSU and at the high schools. I enjoy teaching and I enjoy neuroscience, so it’s a perfect situation,” said event coordinator Leslie Stone-Roy, assistant professor in Biomedical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at CSU.
Brain Awareness Week includes several demonstration stations that feature visuals and activities for the students. Several topics are covered each year and students can visit as many stations as they desire.
The event began 10 years ago at Preston Junior High School. With the help of Colorado State, Front Range Community College and community volunteers, the program has expanded.
CSU students are the primary volunteers for the event. These students are trained to present neuroscience materials to their peers and younger students by CSU faculty. High school and middle school students can work closely with individuals closer in age to learn about the brain. They are provided the opportunity to interact with university students and faculty to learn about careers and educational opportunities in neuroscience, in keeping with the university’s land-grant mission to educate young people in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM disciplines.
The program benefits everybody involved. “Our CSU students learn to teach high school students in an informal setting, and the high school students get to interact with undergraduate and graduate students who are excited and informed about neuroscience,” said Stone-Roy. “The CSU volunteers come away with a sense that they can teach science concepts and hopefully the high school students come away with a feeling that science and research can be fun and interesting.”
In Fort Collins, the event is supported by the Front Range Neuroscience Group. Brain Awareness Week is a global program that is supported by the Society for Neuroscience and the Dana Foundation.
“I think it’s important for the CSU community to reach out to the Fort Collins community so that people are more aware of who we are, and the kinds of work that we do at the university,” said Stone-Roy.
Volunteers are always needed for the program. To volunteer or establish a Brain Awareness Week campaign in another community, contact Leslie Stone-Roy at Leslie.Stone-Roy@colostate.edu.