Volume 4, Issue 5 (May 2000)


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 Pages
2. The Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Brain Awareness Week
4. Free, Free, Free
5. Book Review
6. Media Alert
7. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
8. How to Stop Your Subscription


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

A. April Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. May NeuroCalendar
C. MIT Receives $350 Million for Brain Institute
D. Turn The (Night) Lights Back On
E. Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
F. Pain: A Common Complaint
G. Increasing Use of Stimulants and Antidepressants Sounds an Alarm
H. May Fact-A-Day Calendar

In April, 27 new figures were added and 52 pages were modified.



The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for May is "Brains Rule!" at:

Brains Rule! is an interactive web site developed at Creighton University with a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The site is still under development, but it has several features that set it apart from other "brainy" sites.

You must have the Shockwave plug-in to enter the site. Once you load the site (and it could take a minute or two with a slow modem), head over to the "Games" area of "Kid's Stuff" for an interactive lesson on stroke. You will find clear explanations and sharp graphics as you learn about the causes and effects of a brain attack. "Visit an Exposition" to see how students in several cities are learning about neuroscience. Although the "Teacher's Corner" and several other features of the site are not yet ready, Brains Rule! is definitely a place to watch on the World Wide Web.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) was a world-wide event held last March with activities designed to explore, learn and teach about the brain. Several Neuroscience for Kids newsletter readers wrote in to share how they celebrated BAW.

From Kathryn Millar, Elijah Smith Elementary in Yukon Territory, Canada: "Elijah Smith Elementary had its first Annual Brain Awareness Week! We stuck closely to the suggestions you generously provided as well as those of the other sites made available. The school hallways were plastered with appropriate facts and statistics; every morning over the public address system we offered interesting blurbs on male and female brains, etc.; we read a daily brain joke; equipped all teachers with exciting activities they could do with their age level of students; and of course, we had a schoolwide "Brain Drop." For the latter we had a Genie Lift raise our agreeable principal to the gym rafters (as the student body chanted 'JUMP'!) Each creation was dropped ceremoneously with an accompanying drum roll. All those who participated received a small Dollar Store prize. What a tremendous week. The students are already asking to do it again next year."

From Alcuin Montessori School in Oak Park, IL: "Our classroom is a multi-aged group of 3rd through 6th graders. We had a great time learning about the parts and functions of the brain. The older students organized a brain fair with individual stations for adults and students. Some of our activites: Claire, Phantom Limb exercise; William, Broom balance; Carlee, Mental Fatigue; Katie, Mental Fatigue; Merril, Binocular Rivalry; David, Reaction Time; Adam, Slow Pain Coming; Valeri, Shalini and Katie, Map Your Tongue; William, The Stroop Effect; John and Chris, Right and Left Brain Sidedness; Teddy and Amira, Turn-Table Illusions."

From Nancy Kerr Graham, her daughter Julia Grace, and kindergarten teacher Darlene Zook: "On March 24, I presented a small brain unit to my daughter's kindergarten class using the coloring pages on the Neuroscience for Kids site. We talked about Mr. Cerebrum, Mrs. Cerebellum, and Baby Brain Stem. The kids loved it. I also talked to the kids about Brain Awareness Month in my study hall class."

From the 21st Century Biology class at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC: "Students went to several area schools to teach about the brain and the nervous system. We designed activities to target elementary school children. Activities included "The Neuron Activity," "What your Nose Knows," "Tasty Buds," and "The Insect Activity." We would like to encourage students around the country to create similar programs in their communities."

From the "Brain and Body Committee" (Sally Bell, 5th grade science; Gail Lundeen, gifted; and Coach Jeff Dorris, P.E.) at Franklin Smith School in Blue Springs, MO: "I have been coordinating a Brain Awareness program all year for the teachers and students at Franklin Smith Elementary. Our week started off with activities for each grade level. Every student received one of the Neuroscience for Kids bookmarks. We had purchased brain balls for the Coach to use all week and the music teacher had the classes singing brain songs. Each day after morning announcements either a brain fact or a body fact was read. We also used the limericks from the Neuroscience for Kids site and the Visions Writing Club wrote their own poems. It was a very successful celebration."

From Kristen Garis in Lincolnshire, IL: "BAW fell perfectly in the middle of our neuroscience unit (in an advanced integrated chem/bio course for high school freshmen). I started it off on Sunday night by sending Neuroscience for Kids e-postcards to all 42 of the students! I had not informed them ahead of time about the big week so it was quite a surprise for them! The students have been using the Neuroscience for Kids website for a lot of research they've conducted on neuro disorders, brain comparisons, and nerve impulses. At the end of the week we viewed a Discovery channel video called Brain Stormers while we ate brain jello! The kids thought that was a blast and even thought the jello was quite tasty."


Do you ever need extra material to explore the nervous system in more detail? Do you have trouble finding this material? Is it expensive? If your answer to these questions is "Yes!" then look no further than the "Free Material" page on the Neuroscience for Kids website at:

This page has links to companies, government agencies, and other organizations that will send you brain-related material for FREE! For example, you can get publications from the National Parkinson Foundation, National Eye Institute, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Many organizations will send you posters, video tapes and CD-ROMs. I highly recommend the National Institute of Mental Health CD titled "The Brain's Inner Workings" and the National Institute on Drug Abuse poster series titled "Mind Over Matter." These materials are waiting for you. All you need to do is ask for them!


"Brain Surgery for Beginners and Other Major Operations for Minors: A Scalpel-Free Guide to Your Insides," by Steve Parker, designed and illustrated by David West. Scholastic, Inc., New York, 1993, ISBN: 1-562-94895-4, Level: Upper Elementary. [This review was written by Mera Stewart, Neuroscience for Kids Consultant.]

Not your average "This is Your Body" book, "Brain Surgery for Beginners..." contains whimsical facts combined with well-drawn anatomical diagrams that highlight the text in a delightful as well as informative manner. Your main guide is Brainy, a small purple brain-person who illustrates concepts and indicates areas of the brain involved in each section. "Spare-part Frankie" tells of replacement parts and techniques available. "Spies on the Inside" details imaging techniques used with each system.

Wonderfully illustrated, this book is sure to attract and hold students' attention. Colorful (Purple Brain - no, NOT the song by Prince), imaginative (green jello salad brain with whip cream and cherry) and cute (sick lion awaiting treatment from Galen) depictions of the brain and other organs provide a visual feast around which the text is organized. However, several opportunities were missed in the book's stated goal of describing the brain's role in control of body systems, for example when discussing the circulatory and respiratory systems. Also, Brainy needs a better diagram of the medial view of the brain - an "X" on the cerebellum intended for brainstem autonomic centers or on the anterior temporal lobe for olfactory cortex does not adequately convey the location of these centers.

Other fixes to add before turning this over to your students: cerebellum has three pairs of stalks, not one (p. 13); nerves appear white due to their myelin sheaths, not only because they are nerve fibers (p. 18, top); arrows and lines indicating speech centers (esp. Broca's area) are offset (p. 28); lines indicating iliac vein (p. 31) and marrow cavity and fibula (both on p. 51) need to be extended to be accurate. Lastly, change "hair follicle" to "sebaceous pore" in the "In-Skin Blemishes" section (p. 57). If the highest ideal of education is to enthrall as well as to inform, this book succeeds wonderfully. It only requires more careful editing. By all means fix it and give it to your students, after you enjoy it first, of course. Overall rating: Information presentation: A, Information content: B


A. M. Pranzatelli, "Friendly Fire," Discover Magazine, April 2000 - Parents learn that it doesn't take much to start a biological storm in a toddler's brain.

B. T. Dajer, "Breathless," Discover Magazine, May 2000 - Sleep apnea: an often undiagnosed sleep disorder.

C. S. Pinker, "Will We Know How the Brain Works?," Time Magazine, April 10, 2000 - Predictions about what we will learn about the brain.


A. Each year there are about 300,000 brain concussions that occur during sports activities. (Statistic from the Center for Disease Control.)

B. About 100 million Americans need eye glasses. (Statistic from Prevention's Giant Book of Health Facts, 1991.)

C. A Purkinje neuron in the cerebellum may receive 150,000 contacts from other neurons. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 2000, page 25.)

D. The human brain has 100 trillion synaptic connections. (Statistic from Kandel, Schwartz and Jessel, Principles of Neural Science, 2000, page 173.)

E. Cerebrospinal fluid is 99% water.


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.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.