Brain Awareness Week 2008
Several busloads of students took a special, spring trip to the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There they got much more than a tour:
Boy1: We had a lecture about brain, how to keep your brain healthy and safe.
Girl1: It was real interesting. And I got to hold the brain.
Girl2: I liked the drunken brain.
Girl3: My favorite part was the visual part.
Boy2: The vision test and the part of the exhibit when I was able to touch a real brain.
Balintfy: Several busloads of students took a special, spring trip to the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There they got much more than a tour:
Andrea Surecoat: This week we're hosting Brain Awareness Week, and it's for middle school students and so what we do is we had invite partners in education to come to the Museum, and provide hands-on activities for the students.
Balintfy: Andrea Surecoat, Public Programs Manager of the National Museum of Health and Medicine says a long list of partners including several institutes from the NIH were there to share activities and information about brain awareness.
Andrea Surecoat: The National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke actually organized the National Institutes of Health who are participating this year, and they have done a fabulous job of bringing everyone together and sharing our brain studies and the vast amount of knowledge in these Institutes with the public.
Balintfy: Of the seven special exhibits from five different NIH institutes, one of the most popular was sponsored by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Dr. Dennis Trombley: The basic premise is to explain some of the things that are going on in the brain when somebody becomes intoxicated
Balintfy: Dr. Dennis Trombley, a program director at NIAAA, describes his display:
Dr. Dennis Trombley: First off, I have a model brain that's created out of chicken wire and flashing Christmas lights, and I use that to explain different regions of the brain and how they are affected by alcohol.
Balintfy: Roger Swenson, a colleague at the National Institute on Drug Abuse had a similarly fun set-up, called "Roger's Party"...
Roger Swenson: at my booth, I just try to point out certain brain regions that are responsible for the affects of, the rewarding affects of drugs and alcohol, for those who choose to use drugs or alcohol. And then their ability, the brain region, to make a decision on whether they should, indeed, try to use drugs and alcohol. Then we have a little game, since this is my party, and a party should have games. And at my game and my party we have goggles. The goggles distort vision, such that to mimic on whether you have taken too much alcohol, for example. I always tell the kids that, although it distorts the vision, they still can think clearly. They do not have alcohol in their brain, so they can think. And we walk through a maze with the distorted vision on and they have a lot of fun with that.
Balintfy: Vanessa Kalter-Long, is a middle-school science teacher in Washington D.C. She says that the combined event was an enlightening experience.
Vanessa Kalter-Long: this exhibit allows the kids to do something they would never be able to do. They just held a brain, and to those students, we don't have all the resources necessarily for me to be able to have someone bring a brain to them. So for them to come here, hold a brain, experience what it's like to see how things influence the brain, to be able to look at optical illusions, all the high-tech equipment to be in this environment, it's not something that we necessarily have access to on an everyday level.
Balintfy: Brain Awareness Week is every year in March. For more information on it, visit brainweek.dana.org . To visit the museum, go to nmhm.washingtondc.museum . And for the latest on brain research, visit ninds.nih.gov. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.