Volume 19, Issue 11 (November, 2015)

Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

In this issue:

1. What's New at Neuroscience for Kids
2. Neuroscience for Kids Site of the Month
3. Shaking School Visit
4. 2016 Neuroscience for Kids Poetry Contest
5. Brainy Gift Ideas
6. DANA Design an experiment
7. American Judges Association Meeting
8. Society for Neuroscience Meeting
9. Media Alert
10. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
11. Support Neuroscience for Kids
12. How to Stop Your Subscription



Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in October including:

A. October Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived


The Neuroscience for Kids "Site of the Month" for November is the "NQ Higher Sciences: Neurobiology and Communication" at:

NQ Higher Sciences is a web site created by Education Scotland to support course in biology, physics and chemistry. The Neurobiology and Communication section of the site is divided into two sections: a) The Nervous System, covering the structure and function of the nervous system and b) Communication and Social Behavior, covering infant attachment, non-verbal communication and learning. These topics are discussed with videos and case studies that can be used in the classroom.


For the past 20 years, I have visited elementary, middle and high schools to talk with young students about neuroscience and to listen to what they have to say about the brain. Kids never fail to surprise me with their questions.

On a school visit last month, I was surprised by something else. When I arrived at an elementary school in the morning, the teacher informed me that there would be an earthquake drill right in the middle of my presentation. The students would be instructed to get under their desks and cover their heads until an "all clear" signal was given. I asked if there was a desk for me because I wanted to set a good example.

Sure enough, at 10:15 am, an announcement came over the classroom's speaker system that the earthquake drill had started. The kids immediately dropped to the floor, crawled under their desks, and covered their heads. I too went under my assigned desk and covered up. After a few minutes, we were told the drill was over and we jumped right back into learning about the brain.

I learned later that the drill was part of the Great Washington Shake Out:


The 2016 NEUROSCIENCE FOR KIDS POETRY WRITING CONTEST is now open to students in kindergarten through high school, college students, teachers and parents. Use your imagination to create a poem, limerick or haiku about the brain and you might win a prize. The complete set of rules and the official entry form for the contest are available at:

Here is a summary of the contest rules:

All poems, limericks and haiku must have at least THREE lines and CANNOT be longer than TEN lines. Material that is shorter than three lines or longer than ten lines will not be read. All material must have a neuroscience theme such as brain anatomy (a part of the brain), brain function (memory, language, emotions, movement, the senses, etc.), drug abuse or brain health (helmets, brain disorders, etc.).

Be creative! Use your brain! Visit the Neuroscience for Kids pages for ideas and information!

- If you are a STUDENT IN KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE 2: write a poem in any style; it doesn't have to rhyme.

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 3 TO GRADE 5: write a poem that rhymes. The rhymes can occur in any pattern. For example, lines one and two can rhyme, lines three and four can rhyme, and lines five and six can rhyme. Or use your imagination and create your own rhyming pattern.

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 6 TO GRADE 8: write a brainy haiku (3 lines only). A haiku MUST use the following pattern: 5 syllables in the first line; 7 syllables in the second line; 5 syllables in the third line. Here is an example:

Three pounds of jelly
wobbling around in my skull
and it can do math

- If you are a STUDENT IN GRADE 9 TO GRADE 12: write a brainy limerick. A limerick has 5 lines: lines one, two and five rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables; lines three and four rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables. Here is an example of a limerick:

The brain is important, that's true,
For all things a person will do,
From reading to writing,
To skiing to biting,
It makes up the person who's you.

- If you are a COLLEGE STUDENT, TEACHER, PARENT OR ANYONE ELSE: write a rhyming poem that explains why it is important to learn about the brain.

Books or other prizes will be awarded to multiple winners in each category.

Other rules:

A. You must use an entry form for your writing and send it in using "regular mail." Entries that are sent by e-mail will NOT be accepted.

B. Only ONE entry per person. If you cannot download the entry form, let me know (e-mail: and I will send a form to you attached to an e-mail.

C. Students may enter by themselves or teachers may make copies of the entry form for their students and return completed entries in a single package. The contest is open to people from all countries.

Entries must be received by February 1, 2016.


Are you looking for a special gift to give to a friend, teacher, or relative? Can't decide what to get? Why not give something brainy? Brainy gifts are great to say "Happy Holidays," "Happy New Year" and "Congratulations!" Here are some suggestions:

A. Brainy T-shirts, mugs, calendars, cards, ties and other items from NEURO4KIDS.COM:

B. Books about the brain: for suggestions, see the Neuroscience for Kids Book Review page at:

C. Crafts: spend little or no money and create your own "brainy gift." The Neuroscience for Kids web site has many craft projects that you can turn into gifts. See:


The Dana Foundation invites high school students to enter its "Design a Brain Experiment" competition. The goal of this competition is to develop the idea for a brain-related experiment. You do not actually do the experiment, but you write up the reason for the experiment, the methods you would use and the expected results.

Entries are due on January 15, 2016. Get the competition rules and guidelines here:


Last month I joined a panel of speakers who gave presentations at the American Judges Association meeting in Seattle. You might wonder why a neuroscientist would be talking with a group of judges. Well, the legal profession is now very interested in brain research because neuroscience is making its way into the courtroom. I gave the audience of about 125 people an overview of the nervous system and cleared up a few misconceptions that they had about the brain.

Joining me as meeting speakers were Dr. Francis Shen and Dr. Jennifer Richeson. Dr. Shen is the Executive Director of Education and Outreach activities for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and a McKnight Land-Grant Professor and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shen discussed why lawyers and judges should know about neuroscience. He mentioned several high profile cases where evidence about the brain was presented before the court. He warned that people must be aware about what neuroscience can and cannot say about violence and criminal behavior so they can make informed decisions in the courtroom.

Dr. Richeson is the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University where she is also a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and a professor of African American Studies. Dr. Richeson presented her fascinating work about race bias and the psychology of interracial relations. She also talked about brain mechanisms involved with racial bias.


Last month, about 35,000 neuroscientists met in Chicago, IL, for the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. That's right - 35,000 people all talking about the brain! Many attendees present their research in sessions where they stand by a 6 foot by 4 foot poster and explain their work to people who stop by. According to the Society for Neuroscience Twitter feed, if all of the poster boards from the meeting were placed side by side, they would take up 13 professional basketball courts.

Often work at the annual meeting is in early stages so scientists can get feedback from other people to improve the research back in the lab. The meeting is also a good time for young scientists and students to make connections with senior scientists who may have jobs in their labs.

If you can spare a few days (or weeks), you can read through the many summaries (abstracts) the research presented at the annual meeting web site:


A. "The Madness of Charlie Brown," by Athar Yawar (The Lancet, 386:1332-1333, 2015).

B. "Lost and Found" by Jenny Blair (DISCOVER magazine, November, 2015) tells the story of how a pair of scientists rediscovered a part of the human brain.

C. "The Brain" hosted by Dr. David Eagleman airs on Wednesdays through November 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific time / 9 p.m. Central time on PBS.

D. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND magazine (November/December 2015 issue) has the articles: "Why We Imagine," "Sound Surgery," "When Cops Lose Control," "The Brainbow Connection," "What Really Causes Autism" and "The Positivity Effect."

E. "Robots with Heart" by Pascale Fung and "Baby Talk" by Patricia K. Kuhl in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (November, 2015).

F. New Neural Engineering lesson plans for middle and high school students from the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering:

G. TIME magazine (October 26, 2015 issue): Sean Gregory writes about counting hits to the head hit to limit play in football (pages 23-24) and Joel Stein write about his experience in an MRI machine (page 58).


A. French philosopher Emile Boirac coined the term "dj vu" in 1876.

B. Argus Panoptes, a giant from Greek mythology, is said to have 100 eyes.

C. November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month and Epilepsy Awareness Month

D. Neuroscientist John O'Keefe, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was born on November 18, 1939.

E. Approximately 14 million people aged 12 years and older have visual impairment (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.