Brain Awareness Week, promoted by the Dana Foundation, is a world-wide celebration of the brain. Depending on your location, Brain Awareness Week typically involves tours of neuroscience labs, exhibitions on the brain, and social media campaigns. Since there are so few neuroscience laboratories in Southern Nevada, we have tweaked Brain Awareness Week so that it is not relegated to a single week of the year but rather a Brain Awareness Day that can occur anytime throughout the year. We have been attending elementary schools in the Las Vegas valley and surrounding areas since 2012 to teach elementary-aged children about the brain.
A typical Brain Awareness Day consists of an entertaining lecture to discuss various functions the brain and the importance of protecting your brain (wear helmets!) followed by several small group activities that may include the following:
- Guess Whose Brain? — Students pick up and hold several "brains" that have been carefully matched in size and weight to various animals and then try to match which brains belong to which animals.
- Build a Neuron — Students learn the various important parts of a neuron as they build their own neuron with craft supplies.
- The Egg Helmet — Students get a hands on lesson about the importance of wearing a helmet to protect their brain utilizing eggs, bubblewrap and lengthy fall.
- Sheep Brain Identification — Students get to inspect up close the various parts of the brain on sheep brains that have already been dissected to reveal various brain structures.
If you would like to coordinate a Brain Awareness Day at your school, please contact James Hyman at firstname.lastname@example.org of the H.i.v.e Lab (Hyman in vivo electrophysiology Laboratory), who is now in charge of coordinating Brain Awareness Events for the UNLV Psychology Department Neuroscience Laboratories.
THE BRAIN BEE
The Brain Bee is an international neuroscience competition for high school students. Starting in 2014, we helped to bring the first ever local Brain Bee to Las Vegas and held it here at UNLV. The Brain Bee is essentially a science bowl but where all the questions are neuroscience based! Students from across Las Vegas compete for the top-prize: a trip to the U.S. National Brain Bee that is held in Baltimore, Maryland. The winner of the U.S. National Brain Bee receives an all-expense paid trip to the International Brain Bee. Some of the recent locations of the International Brain Bee include:
- Copenhagen, Denmark (2016)
- Cairns, Australia (2015)
- Washington D.C., USA (2014)
- Vienna, Austria (2013)
- Cape Town, South Africa (2012)
- Florence, Italy (2011)
If you are interested in participating in the next Las Vegas Brain Bee (exact date to be determined but will likely be held in February 2017), please begin studying the following free material:
- For the local competition:
- For the national competition:
- Brain Facts (see above)
- Neuroscience: Science of the Brain
Please note the UNLV Neurobiology of Disease and Behavior Laboratory is not the sponsor of the Las Vegas Brain Bee. The Nevada Brain Bee Association, on which numerous of our graduate students serve on the organizing committee, is responsible for planning and hosting the event.
Notable contributors that help year after year with organizing the event and serving as regular judges include:
- Dr. James Hyman
- Dr. Dustin Hines
- Emily Hensleigh
- Chelcie Heaney
- Monica Bolton
- Andrew Murtishaw
- Austin Boren