We helped children get to know their own brain, in all it's beauty and gory, during our 'Meet your brain!' Art-Science workshops at the Imagination Lab London, and as part of the London Science Festival 2014. Many thanks to Alex & Ashok for their invaluable science communication work! Take a browse at some of the fun we had...
Filmed during our Meet Your Brain workshop, which ran as part of the London Science Festival 2014, children aged 7-11 came together to get to know their brains; how it looks, how it feels, and how it works. This film was produced and directed by Piers Bailey, and is presented by the children themselves. Watch out Brian Cox, we've got a few science communicators on the rise here! Enjoy four fun minutes crammed full of interesting facts from the world of neuroscience!
How do different parts of the brain send messages to each other? Brain cells (neurons) send messages along wires (axons), which carry electrical signals from one neuron to another. This way, all the different parts of the brain can speak to each other, to make sure they all work together. Through a good ol' game of egg+spoon, children became neurons and axons themselves! The aim of the game? Send secret coded commands (written on eggs or - in this case - satsumas!) down a chain of neurons, via the axons, to instruct the neuron at the end of the chain how to move (jump/skip/stick your tongue out...our neuron did all sorts of wiggling). The team that got the most actions out of their neurons, won!
We considered in what ways our brains are like computers. It was amazing to see all the wonderful parallels children drew, between machines and the brain we grew ourselves!
What parts of the brain do we need, in order to do our daily activities? Getting out of bed, eating breakfast, going to school and (hopefully) paying attention to the teacher...all of these activities require lots of different parts of the brain to work together, as a network. Along side Developmental Cognitive Neuroscientists, children used colour coded maps of the brain to work out which parts they use when they are doing some of their own daily activities. They then gathered together the beads which represented those parts of the brain (according to their colour) and threaded them together to make their very own neural systems, representing a day in their life! All children got to take their work of art home, along with a key to help them remember all the brain structures that are oh-so-important to them. Even a few of the adults go involved in this one...
(Lots of these photos were taken at the wonderful Imagination Lab, run by the amazing people developing the Children's Museum London).
We had a competition to see how many new brain facts people had learned by the end of the workshop. Our ideas wall filled up fast! Peruse our post-its to find out all there is to know about your brain!
Many thanks go to funding from the Great Ormond Street Biomedical Research Centre, NHS National Institutes for Health Research, and Children's Museum London, without which these workshops would not have been possible. Also our thanks go to volunteer Science Communicator's Alex Bonthrone and Ashok Sakhardande. We would also like to thank kind donations for our brain goodie bags from: Wellcome Trust, The DANA Foundation, Child Brain Injury Trust, Headway, and The Children's Trust.