Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
Here is what you will find in this issue:
1. What's New on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Site
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Neuroscience By the Numbers
4. Expanding on Children's TV Programs
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. Support Neuroscience for Kids
9. How to Stop Your Subscription
A. September Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. Muscle Gene Linked to Human Brain Expansion
C. Bacterial Meningitis
D. Stroke Attacks Dreams
E. Neuro-Jeopardy Game
In September, 10 new figures were added and 67 pages were modified.
Dr. Tutis Vilis, a professor in the Department of Physiology and
Pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), has prepared a
fantastic, interactive web site for students to learn about the senses.
The site is divided into 12 topics: The Eye, The Visual Cortex, Visual
Perception of Objects, Visual Perception of Motion, Association Cortex,
Streams for Visually Guided Actions, Touch, Muscle Sense, Hearing,
Balance, Eye Movements and Memory. Each topic can be explored through
FLASH animations, PDF files that can be printed, interactive problems and
questions and links to other web sites.
nervous = 3,114
nerve = 5,757
spinal = 12,603
schizophrenia = 13,215
cortex = 13,674
epilepsy = 19,095
neuron = 22,216
axon = 36,077
neurology = 41,651
neuroscience = 47,780
neurosurgery = 60,199
myelin = 66,446
dendrite = 82,271
Today I didn't have any childcare, so I was trying to finish up an article, edit another article, yet still keep my children occupied. Like many other parents, I turned on the TV for a bit so that I could attempt to get some work done.
The show "Arthur" was on the public television channel. I was amused to see Arthur and his friends in science class. Their teacher was showing a movie in which a spokesman describes scientists as being characterized by PANTS: Patient, Attentive, Nosy, Thoughtful and Systematic. PANTS. The science teacher then informs his students that if they complete a science project that shows PANTS, they will receive extra credit. Francine decides to grow a crystal. Arthur and his friend Buster order an ant farm.
When the time comes to add the ants, though, they don't read the instructions first ("Have an adult add the ants with a paper funnel...") and all but one of the ants escape. The episode explores how to make an observation, and in the end, Arthur, with the help of D.W., realizes that even though his ant farm set-up did not work, he still learned things that he could write into a report.
Watching TV alongside my children, I realized that parents could expand on the lessons presented in this TV program. Parents can challenge their children, in an age-appropriate way, to make certain types of observations. For example, younger kids could draw a flower or some grass; older kids could make the drawing and label some basic parts (stem, leaf, petal). Parents could then discuss how plants need water and sun to grow. It is important for parents to note that the point of this exercise is not to teach kids facts, but to reference the TV episode and use it to creatively introduce whatever science they can. Above all, this should be a fun and positive endeavor.
In regard to this particular Arthur episode, parents and their children could search for ants, first discussing where ants like to live (around rocks, in the dirt, near food, etc.) and what they eat (brainstorm, then maybe check the Internet for more information). A simple project would be to construct a bug jar, poking holes in an aluminum foil "lid" secured by a rubber band. After some ants are found, observed and sketched, perhaps the parent can lead an informal discussion asking the children if the search for the ants happened as they expected. Were there any surprises? This gets the children to compare what they thought was going to happen to what actually happened.
Another more language-based project related to this specific episode would be to have children who already know their alphabet select a word (like PANTS) and then pick descriptive words that characterize scientists for each letter. For example, CHIP might stand for Creative, Hard-working, Intelligent and Pretty (choosing words that the kids would know -- for older kids you might be able to do something more like CHARM for Creative, Hard-working, Analytical, Real and Marvelous). Part of the lesson could include learning a new vocabulary word. Stereotypes can be addressed (and shattered) by including "young" or "women."
Most importantly, just as Arthur concluded, it's the process of doing
science and giving your best effort that counts -- not whether your
experiment works or not.
Some countries have issued their own stamps with neuroscience topics. You can find some examples of these stamps at:
"For a fun and informative Web site about neuroscience, with links to many wonderful online brain-science resources, see Neuroscience for Kids at faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html. The site includes illustrations of the nervous system and basic neuroscience experiments (and it's not just for kids)."
B. "The Testing of America" by Caroline Hsu (US News and World Report, September 20, 2004) discusses the controversy about personality tests.
C. The cover story of Newsweek magazine (September 27, 2004) is titled "The New Science of Mind & Body." Articles in the magazine discuss how the brain influences health.
D. "Dying to See" by Ralf Dahm (Scientific American, October, 2004)
discusses how studying the lens of the eye may provide information about
Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
B. The budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased from $13.6 billion in fiscal year 1998 to $27.3 billion in fiscal year 2003 (Source: FASEB journal, October 2, 2003).
C. The average amount of time required to attain a PhD in the biomedical sciences is approximately 6.9 years (up from 6 years in 1980) (Source: "Best and worst of times for biomedical scientists," by Ted Agres, The Scientist, October 8, 2003, http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20031010/04/).
D. Almost 50% of the people in the United States wear eyeglasses. The total spent for eyeglasses in the United States is $13 billion (Source: Milder, B. and Rubin, M.L., The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself. (3rd edition), Gainesville (FL): Triad Publishing Co., 2004).
E. Humans can detect one molecule of green pepper smell when it is mixed
in the air with 3 trillion other molecules (Source: Shier, D., Butler, J.
and Lewis, R. Hole's Human Anatomy & Physiology, Boston: McGraw Hill,
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.
"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.