Brain Awareness Week is a global initiative created by the Dana Foundation to increase public awareness about brain research. Every year we try to come up with new fun activities for people of all ages to try. This year we took the theme of comparative neuroscience with the help of our Centre for Behaviour and Evolution.
Kids Kabin is an organisation that runs creative activities for children aged 8 – 13. We helped run some after school sessions at their centres in Walker, Cowgate and Pottery bank to show off the fun side of neuroscience. We got started with a few games such as the 'Stroop Test' which has the names of colours written in different coloured ink. We also took along our mock MRI scanner to get children thinking about the different brain regions they use when doing different activities but also how we use technology to look inside people's heads. The children were very excited to look at our collection of animal skulls and try to guess what animal they came from. They were also keen to try out our tests to see how they compared in the intelligence stakes against chimpanzees and crows!
On Wednesday it was off to Walbottle School to deliver a day of talks to their year 7 pupils on the theme of adaptation and how essential these are for the survival of a species. Two of our IoN ambassadors - Lisa Hindmarsh and Lauren Harkin took charge of these sessions. Animals have evolved to live in all kinds of environments even those that seem impossible to live in. The talk explained some of these different adaptations and how they are passed on to future generations. The students really enjoyed being different bird species and investigating their different feeding adaptations. They were also pretty competitive when trying to spot the camouflaged animals in our pictures.
Meet the Scientist at the Great North Museum
To round the week off on Saturday we headed to the Great North Museum for a 'Meet the Scientist Day'. These are always fun events and lots of different research groups from the University and beyond take along fun drop in activities for museum visitors to try. We gave people the chance to: see their brain activity on screen, and try to pair up different brains with the correct animal. Plus try out tasks that test intelligence ad problem solving in other species to see how they compare. Taking part in any of these meant you were rewarded with one of our special Brain sweets - though we can assure you they are just jelly!