Volume 12, Issue 3 (March, 2008)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest - Winners
4. Bipolar Expedition
5. 2008 Brain Awareness Week
6. Book Review
7. Media Alert
8. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
9. Support Neuroscience for Kids
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in February including:

A. February Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Disney Dreaming: Sleep Disorders in Film
C. New Threat to Giant Pandas: Parasitic Worms
In February, 10 new figures were added and 11 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for March is "The Brain: Teaching Modules" and "The Mind: Teaching Modules" at:


This month's material is available through Annenberg Media. "The Brain: Teaching Modules" and "The Mind: Teaching Modules" are a series of videos produced by Colorado State University for high school and college classrooms. The 32 "Brain" videos cover a range of neuroscience topics such as intelligence, split brains, language, perception, sleep, and neurological diseases; the 35 "Mind" videos discuss topics including hypnosis, placebos, drug abuse, language, memory, and mental disorders. Each video is between 5 and 20 minutes in length.

Before you view the videos for the first time, you will be asked to register on the site. Registration is free and it takes only a minute or two. Although the videos were created about 10 years ago, they can still be used during psychology, biology and neuroscience classes.


From the Oregon Coast,
To the shores of Maine,
I received poems,
About the brain.

Some were short,
Some were long,
Some were in,
The form of song.

Talk these over,
While eating your dinners,
The Neuroscience for Kids,
Poetry winners.

Declan S., Fremont, NH - Kindergarten to Grade 2 Winner (Poem, any style):
Wear a helmet on your head
While you're riding with your friend
And keep your brain safe and sound
While you're riding around and around.
Use your brain to figure out and see
And be careful not to hit a tree.

Erin Y., Cinnaminson, NJ - Grade 3 to Grade 5 Winner (Rhyming Poem):
The brain is the boss that runs the show
It does a lot more than just store what you know.
The cerebrum is the biggest part
It controls your speech, muscles and helps you do art.
The pituitary is as small as a pea
It determines how tall you will grow to be.
Other functions are to help you breathe, digest your food,
Circulate blood, and control your mood
Eat right, exercise, and be good to your brain
If you do, you have much to gain.

Max W., Natick, MA - Grade 6 to Grade 8 Winner: (Haiku style poem):
Dementia, you thief
Leaving so little behind
All is forgotten

Helen J., Shoreline, WA - Grade 9 to Grade 12 (Limerick style poem):
Brain cells destroyed and memory is drained,
Worse and worse until nothing is retained,
Scientists commit,
Trying to fix it,
Until then, a life, a family, constrained.

A total of 841 poems from 31 states and four countries were received for the 2008 Neuroscience for Kids Writing Contest. There were multiple winners in each age group. Thanks to Morphonix and Pebble Books (Capstone Press) for providing prizes!


Last year, Martin Strel swam the Amazon River to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease. Now it's time to conquer the North and South Poles to raise awareness about bipolar disorder. Two teams of people with bipolar disorder, psychiatrists and community members will take a three week trek: one team will go to the South Pole in November 2008 and the other will go to the North Pole in April 2009.


International Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is this month from March 10-16. I hope you have plans. It may not be too late to find a neuroscientist to visit your class.

Here at the University of Washington, 700 students will attend the 11th annual BAW Open House on March 3. The Open House will feature hands-on, interactive exhibits sponsored by students, researchers and staff from various university departments and organizations. If you would like to share what you did during BAW, send me (e-mail: a summary of your activities and I will try to include it in a future issue of the Neuroscience for Kids newsletter.

Even if you cannot organize a brain fair or a classroom visit by a neuroscientist, you can still participate in BAW with some lessons about the brain and nervous system. Neuroscience for Kids has some "brainy" ideas for a day, a week or a whole month:


"Book of Poisons. A Guide for Writers" by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon, Cincinnati (OH): Writer's Digest Books, 2007. [ISBN: 978-1-58297-456-9]

Reading Level: High School and above

Writers must use their imaginations as they develop the plots of their stories. Mystery writers often find creative ways to "eliminate" characters, but if they struggle to find a way to poison a character, there is help for them in the "Book of Poisons. A Guide for Writers."

The "Book of Poisons" is divided into chapters that cover classic poisons (e.g., arsenic, cyanide and strychnine), household poisons (e.g., ammonia, chlorine), poisonous plants (e.g., hemlock, rhododendron), fungi (e.g., various mushrooms), snakex, spiders and other living things (e.g., cobra, black widow spider), medical poisons (e.g., morphine, valium), pesticides, industrial poisons (e.g., copper, lead), street drugs, and biological, chemical and radiological weapons. One appendix in the book lists more than 70 different poisons that target the nervous system!

For each of the many poisons, you learn its scientific name, the level of toxicity, how fast the poison works, and antidotes and treatments. Many listings also include a case history to show how a poison was used in a book or movie.

So, if you need a creative way to knock off a character in your next novel, look to the "Book of Poisons."


A. "Keeping Your Brain Fit" is the cover article of the February 11, 2008, issue of US News and World Report.

B. "Your Sewer on Drugs" by Eric Hagerman (Popular Science, March, 2008 issue) discusses how wastewater is being used by scientists to give entire cities a drug test.

C. "Brain-Based Education" is the cover article of the February 2008 issue of Phi Delta Kappan. The magazine has some good articles debating the issues about how neuroscience can and cannot be used in the classroom.

D. "Inside Animal Minds" is the cover story in the March, 2008, issue of National Geographic magazine.

E. "White Matter Matters" by R. Douglas Fields (Scientific American, March, 2008) discusses the functions of the brain's white matter.

F. "The Hunt for an Addiction Vaccine" is the cover article of the March 3, 2008, issue of Newsweek Magazine. Also in this issue is an article written by Sharon Begley titled "How Your Brain Looks at Race."


A. March is Mental Retardation Awareness Month, Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, National Brain Injury Awareness Month and Save Your Vision Month. Of course, Brain Awareness Week is in March too.

B. Rabies, a disease caused by a virus that attacks cells of the nervous system, was first described more than 4,000 years ago in the Eshuma Code in Babylon. (Source: Meyer, A-C.L. and Mathisen, G.E., Other tropical infections, in J. Biller, ed., The Interface of Neurology & Internal Medicine, 2008.)

C. The neurotoxin (latrotoxin) in venom of the black widow spider causes a massive release of the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. The scientific name of the black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans, comes from a mixture of Latin and Greek words, meaning "deadly biting robber."

D. The part of the brain called the "pons" gets its name from the Latin word for "bridge" because of the similarities in shape.

E. Erabutoxin, the venom in a sea snake, blocks the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.


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To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:

Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.


Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.