Volume 8, Issue 4 (April, 2004)


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. Brain Awareness Week 2004
4. First Graders Participate in Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest
5. American Academy of Pediatrics Drawing Contest
6. NeuroYork Times?
7. Book Review
8. Media Alert
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. Support Neuroscience for Kids
11. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in March. Here are some of them:

A. March Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. May and June 2004 Neurocalendars
C. Time Estimation Experiment
D. Does Migraine Cause Brain Damage?
E. Nicotine, Secondhand Smoke and Infants
F. UW Brain Awareness Week Open House
G. Sam's Brainy Adventure (an on-line comic strip)

In March, 68 new figures were added and 26 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for April is "Science News for Kids" at: [link no longer working]

Science News for Kids delivers science articles written for children between the ages of 9 and 13. The web site is published by "Science Service," the same company that publishes the weekly science newsmagazine "Science News."

Start your exploration of Science News for Kids by reading some stories in the article archives. The "Behavior" and "Human Body" sections of the archives contain several brain-related stories. For example, "Reading Verbs Revs Up Your Brain" and "Walking to Exercise the Brain" were both featured in February 2004. If you get tired of reading, click over to the PuzzleZone, GameZone or LabZone to solve a problem, play a game or do an experiment. The SciFairZone has suggestions and ideas for science fair projects and the TeacherZone has resource materials for teachers and parents.


As many of you know, Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was held in March. I celebrated BAW by visiting with students at several schools around Seattle. The students and I built a giant neuron model and worked with reflex tests, visual illusions and sensory games to learn about the nervous system. Students also compared real brain specimens from six different animals (human, cat, monkey, rat, sheep, cow).

On March 24, BAW was celebrated at the University of Washington. Approximately 300 students from local schools attended the University of Washington BAW Open House. After a "Brain Assembly," the students worked with hands-on exhibits set up by researchers, clinicians and staff of laboratories and patient support groups. You can read about the Open House and see some pictures of the exhibits at:

I hope you were able to participate in this year's BAW. If you would like to let others know how you celebrated BAW, send me (e-mail: a brief description of your event and I will try to publish it in next month's Neuroscience for Kids newsletter.


First grade students in Mrs. Cathy Bunk's class at Edna Libby Elementary School (Sebago Lake, Maine) participated in this year's Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest. Every student from Mrs. Bunk's class was a winner!


Although the Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest is over, there are still other places to show your skills and win prizes. If you would like to enter another contest, then the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has something for you: an art contest! The AAP drawing contest is open to children in grades 1 through 5. Artwork must be about children's health and safety or positive experiences children have had with their pediatricians. The grand prize winner will be sent with his or her parents or guardians to the 2004 AAP conference in San Francisco (October 9-13, 2004). Other winners will earn cash prizes for themselves and their schools. The first place winner (and his or her school) will receive $500; the second place winner (and school) will receive $300 and the third place winner (and school) will receive $200.

You must enter your artwork by June 1, 2004.

Perhaps your drawing can be about the brain. Good luck!


by Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer

The New York Times is a great source for news -- but did you know that it also boasts fantastic science writers? Every Tuesday the Science and Health sections highlight scientific and medical advances. Every week, I check in to see what's happening around the world in these fields. How common are neuroscience stories?

In the February 17, 2004, issue, there were 29 articles featured. Out of these 20 articles, 10 were related to neuroscience. From mad cow disease to the FDA banning ephedra to cloning to bipolar disorder to sleep, The New York Times has neuroscience covered, reflecting its importance in the world today.

You can find these stories at (a free registration is required). I'll bet that your local newspaper also carries neuroscience news. Check it out!


"You Can't Taste a Pickle With Your Ear" by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Amanda Haley, New York: Blue Apple Books, 2002, 34 pages. [ISBN: 1-929766-68-8]
(For students in grades 1 to 3)

Your senses never stop working. They bring information to your brain to tell you about the outside world. Author Harriet Ziefert gives each sense (smell, touch, hearing, vision and taste) its own chapter in her book "You Can't Taste a Pickle With Your Ear." Each chapter starts with a list of facts about a sense. This list is followed by funny poems, such as this one about smell:

"My nose knows
When Spot walks by,
If his fur is
Wet or dry."

Each chapter ends with a list of questions that can be used to start discussions. Every page of the book is filled with colorful illustrations by Amanda Haley.

The book should hold the interest of young readers, but a few scientific errors should be noted. First, Ziefert shows a picture of a "tongue map." She states, "There are groups of taste buds on different parts of the tongue" and shows a picture of the tongue labeled with sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Although many books show this tongue map, it is incorrect and not based on scientific fact. Taste buds that respond to all basic tastes can be found on all areas of the tongue. Second, Ziefert gives receptors in the skin too much credit. She states, "Receptors tell you when someone presses hard, or gently, on your feet." Actually, receptors in skin respond to hard or gentle pressure, but they don't tell anything about what caused the response. It is the brain that interprets the information sent by receptors.

Ziefert's book is a good choice for those who want a brief introduction to the senses. Older students who want more details about the senses might prefer "The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses" by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen.



A. The cover story of Newsweek magazine (March 8, 2004) discusses stroke (brain attack).

B. "Do Vaccines Cause Autism?" by Alice Park in Time magazine (March 15, 2004).

C. "Don't Forget" premiers on your local PBS station on May 11, 2004; host Alan Alda explores where and what is memory.

D. "Just Too Loud" by Jeffery Kluger in Time magazine (April 5, 2004) discusses the harm caused by loud noises.

E. "Thinking Faster" by Steven Johnson describes neurologist Antonio Damasio's research (Discover magazine, May 2004, pages 45-49).


A. Approximately 3.3% of snowboarding injuries involve the spinal cord; 1.4% of of skiing injuries involve the spinal cord. (Reference: Yamakawa et al., J. Trauma, 50:1101-1105, 2001.)

B. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 500,000 people in the United States exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. (Source: CDC.)

C. Forty years ago, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Today, approximately 23% do. Surveys report that 70% of smokers want to quit. (Source: "Stub Out that Butt!" in Time, January 19, 2004.)

D. In 2002, almost 11 million prescriptions for SSRIs (a type of antidepressants) were written for patients under the age of 18 years (Sources: US FDA and "Antidepressant warnings urged," by Lauran Neergaard, Seattle Times, February 3, 2004.)

E. An octopus has twice as many nerves in its body than it has in its brain. (Source:


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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.