Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
In this issue:
Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in August including:
A. August Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
What might neuroscientists, lawyers, judges, physicians, teachers, sociologists and philosophers have in common? Neuroethics! And the web site of the International Neuroethics Society provides a great introduction to this emerging field.
Although some material on the International Neuroethics Society web site is intended for its members only, there is plenty of information for everyone. Start your exploration of neuroethics by navigating to the Resources tab and select What is Neuroethics? This page provides a simple explanation of neuroethics and why it is important. The Resources tab also lists expert neuroethicists, books and journals written about neuroethics, and organizations involved with neuroethics. The teaching materials on the site, including course syllabi, videos and multimedia presentations, should also help students and teachers interested in neuroethics.
Early last month, 24 middle school kids spent one week at the University of Washington to attend the 2016 Bloomin' Brains Summer Camp. The camp is sponsored by my Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience program (http://www.neuroseeds.org) and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As campers filed into the lab classroom on the first day of camp, they wrote about what they knew about the brain and plants on large posters taped to the walls. They also made a list of questions about the brain that they wanted me to answer later. To learn about neurotransmission, we played the neurotransmitter game and created a giant neuron to show how electrical and chemical signals travel in the nervous system (http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chmodel.html). In the afternoon, campers continued to create neuron and brain models with beads, clay and pipe cleaners. The highlight of the first day was when the kids had the chance to see and hold a real human brain and spinal cord.
On the second day of camp, I brought in several medicinal plants and herbs from my home garden. We discussed the identity of the plants and their uses and then the kids drew pictures of the specimens and made notes about the plants in their lab books. An important activity of the second day of camp was creating chemical extractions from plants. Campers chose from a variety of dried plant material to make their extractions. These extractions would be used in experiments the next day. It was a great day to get outside and explore the University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden too.
Day 3 had the campers experimenting with how plant extracts affect the movement of planaria (flatworms). Using the plant extracts they created the previous day, the kids investigated whether different plants contained chemicals that speed up (stimulate) or slow down (depress) movement. Campers also made an herbal wound healing salve and insect repellant with an herbalist from Bastyr University. After lunch, the kids made tie dyed T-shirts and scarfs while I tie dyed one of my white lab coats.
On the fourth day of camp, the kids used Lumbriculus worms to see how plant extracts affected blood flow. They also took a long hike to the Hyde Herbarium to see many preserved plant specimens and to make plant presses. We also tried a new activity back in the lab: creating art with plant-based paints. The kids crushed various plants and berries using a mortar and pestle and added a little water to the mixture if needed. After the mixture was filtered, the plant paint was used to draw pictures. Many kids drew pictures of the brain and neurons.
On the final day of camp, campers used Spikerboxes to record the electrical activity generated from cockroach leg nerves. They also experimented with their plant extracts to see if any plants would change this neural activity. After lunch, the campers hiked up to the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering to learn about brains and machines. They were able to see how electrical signals from muscles could be used to control a robotic hand.
Many thanks go out to the NeuroSeeds staff and undergraduate student assistants who helped with camp and made the activities so successful. Photos from camp can be seen online at:
When many people think of the month of September, they think of Back to School month. But there are many organizations that designate September as a month to raise awareness about various neurological issues. These include:
And don't forget World Rabies Day on September 28.
A. The September/October 2016 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND magazine is now available with articles about sleep, learning, and vacations.
B. Untangling Alzheimers by Mandy Oaklander (TIME magazine, August 22, 2016).
C. The End of Blindness is the cover article of the September, 2016, issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine.
A. By 2050, United States health care costs for Alzheimers disease and other dementias will be $1 trillion. (Source: Untangling Alzheimers by Mandy Oaklander (TIME magazine, August 22, 2016.)
B. Approximately one in 200 people on Earth (39 million) are blind; another 246 million people have reduced vision. (Source: National Geographic magazine, September, 2016.)
C. Pigs can smell truffles under six inches of soil. (Source: Wolfe, J.M., Kluender, K.R. and Levi, D.M., Sensation & Perception, Third Edition, Sunderland: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 2012.)
D. Approximately 41 million people in the United States wear contact lenses (Source: Cope, J.R., Collier, S.A., Srinivasan, K., et al. Contact LensRelated Corneal Infections United States, 20052015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:817820. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6532a2.)
E. The brain of the fruit fly is about 0.5 mm in width and contains about 150,000 neurons. (Source: Presti, D.E., Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience. A Brain-Mind Odyssey, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2016.)
Help Neuroscience for Kids
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.