Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Real brains and crafty handprint neurons for British Science Week

Real brains and crafty handprint neurons for British Science Week

In mid-March British Science Week took off with more chaos and craziness than ever before with SITraN staff taking part in public talks, Discovery Night and school visits.

The SITraN team visited two local schools where the children patiently sat and listened to a talk about how the brain and spinal cord function to keep us living, moving and thinking.  Following this the children visited 6 different workstations: the human brain, investigating the brain, senses, handprint neurons, real brains, and motor skills.

At ‘the human brain’ workstation children spent time discussing brain regions and creating brain hats, which are always a big hit.

The iconic microscope was used for ‘investigating the brain’ and children looked at real brain slices under the microscope.  However, it appears that many of the children were more interested in how the microscope worked than the brain tissue underneath it!

The children explored their senses using puzzles at the ‘senses’ workstation by smelling the contents of jars, doing jigsaws blindfolded, guessing the contents of boxes based on touch and exploring vision with optical illusions and braille.

Plenty of glitter was spread about at the ‘handprint neurons’ workstation, where children used their handprints, pom-poms and pipe cleaners to design and decorate a neuron to take home.
The ‘real brains’ workstation produced plenty of exclamations of “eeew!” as the children looked at real animal brains and discussed their levels of intelligence alongside MRI images of the brains.  At one point, whilst holding up a bird brain, a researcher asked, “whose brain do you think this is?  It has wings…” to which a child replied “the tooth fairy?”

Finally, the ‘motor skills’ workstation explored reaction skills and reflexes with games such as catching the ruler before it falls and trying not to blink when cotton wool is thrown at your eyes whilst wearing safety goggles.

It was great to see the children skipping out of school wearing brain hats, waving neurons and exploring their newfound knowledge of the brain! All-in-all much fun was had and lovely feedback was received from the schools for the second year running.  

There’s plenty more outreach before the next British Science Week including an outreach afternoon in SITraN on Saturday 23rd April!

The SITraN team.