UW News

March 12, 2009

Kids learn about, use their brains at annual open house

Hundreds of students converged on the Husky Union Building Wednesday wearing hats festooned with giant neurons, trying brain teasers and memory games, and learning about neuroscience from UW students, faculty and community partners.

The event was held as part of Brain Awareness Week, an international campaign that aims to spread public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. The UW Brain Awareness Week open house has been held on campus every year since 1998 and is organized by Eric Chudler, UW research associate professor of bioengineering. This year some 700 elementary, middle-school and high-school students attended. Booths were staffed by neuroscience researchers, nonprofits and patient-support groups.

Brain Awareness Week was founded in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and has grown to include universities, hospitals, patient groups, government agencies, schools, service organizations, and professional associations from around the world. This month UW neuroscientists will visit local classrooms to talk about brain research. Local bookstores and libraries have created displays of books relating to the brain.

In addition to organizing the open house, Chudler maintains the popular Neuroscience for Kids Web site, which serves as a resource for students and teachers across the country. Anybody interested in teaching about the brain can use the site to find lesson plans and games related to the brain, track new discoveries with Neuroscience in the News, request the monthly Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter or watch BrainWorks, a 30-minute UWTV program about the brain hosted by Chudler and featuring visits to UW neuroscience labs.

Portions of the Neuroscience for Kids site are available in Spanish, Slovene, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Japanese and Turkish. The site is maintained by Chudler and was supported by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Center for Research Resources.

The 2009 Brain Awareness Week open house at the UW was supported by a grant from the local chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and a donation from the Hope Heart Institute. Click here for more information.