Using the Internet for Brain Awareness Week
Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.; e-mail: chudler@u.washington.edu
University of Washington; Seattle, WA
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is a time for neuroscientists to get out of the lab and to interact with the public. The Internet is a powerful resource that can be used to communicate with the public during BAW and to provide information related to BAW activities. This article outlines several ways that the Internet can be used to plan, coordinate and promote your BAW program.

Before BAW

1. Planning BAW Activities

What is the best way to talk to public? How do you speak to K-12 students, teachers and the media? What activities make a successful BAW program? What have other groups and organizations tried? These questions and others like them are answered on various web sites. For example, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Public Education and Communication Committee has compiled several reports to assist neuroscientists who venture into K-12 classrooms.

The SFN also has advice for dealing with the media. It is a good idea to review this information if you will be talking to TV, radio or newspaper reporters during BAW.

Some neuroscientists have trouble deciding what to do during BAW, others want to try something new each year. Web sites that contain ideas, activities and demonstrations appropriate for a variety of audiences include:

2. Promoting BAW Activities

During BAW

1. Maintain your web site

Your BAW web site should have current information about the time, place, and other details about your events. Last minute room changes or additional sponsors can be added to the site if necessary.

2. Answer questions from the public

Many people may use e-mail to ask questions about your BAW activities. These questions may focus on the suitability of your program for different age groups, the cost (if any) of the activities, and the location of various events. It is best to have someone available to answer these question promptly.

After BAW

1. Follow up with people who attended your program

Ask attendees to send you e-mail with feedback concerning their experiences during BAW. This information should be used to improve your next BAW program.

2. Use the BAW web site to describe your successful BAW

Photographs, student artwork, and comments can be used to highlight features of your BAW program. The BAW Open House at the University of Washington is a good example of how this can be accomplished.

3. Reward sponsors and recruit new ones

The time after BAW is an additional opportunity to reward your sponsors with continued acknowledgment of their support. In addition to hard copy thank-you letters to your sponsors, you may decide to keep banners and logos that refer to these organizations and companies. You may want their support next year. In the months after BAW, you may want to collect data concerning the number of visits your BAW web site received. These data may provide you with ammunition to approach these sponsors again and to secure new funding from other sources.

Summary

The Internet is filled with creative ideas for you to use during BAW. Web sites with activities and experiments to bring to classrooms, ideas for lectures, and past BAW exhibits can be viewed. The Internet also has the potential to promote your BAW to a wide audience. Your BAW program will be greatly enhanced by increased public awareness of your activities and increased sponsorship by using web sites and e-mail.

BACK TO: UW Brain Awareness Week Exploring the Nervous System Table of Contents

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