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  1. Hi everyone, I searched on forum for a similar post but I couldn’t find one, so I’ll be creating this topic. The purpose is to meet or share outreach initiatives from your country/city/university. You can share your own or someone else initiative/project with any contact link and a short explanation about it. Hopefully, we will create a topic to meet and network with potential collaborators and get inspired by other. I will start with two different ones: (1) EiSci - It’s an initiative from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where I’m currently pursuing my PhD, where students reach to high schools to teach science and healthcare in the Bronx community, in NY. I am not part of this group, but I’m looking to be soon! Link related (2) Semana do Cerebro - It’s a project for the Brain Awareness Week in Brazil, leaded by universities UFABC and UNIFESP. It’s usually set on public parks within the greater Sao Paulo, explaining to the general public more about brain function and/or misconceptions. I helped to organize a couple of events and if you want to check more, click here. Share any initiative/project that you know or want to start. Get inspired, get together!
  2. I was given a wonderful reminder last week why it is important to volunteer. I went as a representative for our outreach group to a volunteer appreciation luncheon. We were celebrating all of the people who have worked with the residential psychiatric patients at a local center. Looking around the room and seeing how many people had helped in so many ways, I was honored to be among them. Our group started playing BINGO with these patients six years ago. I remember the first group that went. I helped set up the fundraiser so we could give donations as prizes to the patients. And now we have continued to work with them for six years. I am so happy we have established such a wonderful way for our students to give back to the community. And I was humbled to be sitting among groups that had been doing this for decades. During the keynote address a local politician reminded us that these are people “society has turned a blind eye to.” How often have we heard people refer to an obviously, severely mentally ill person as “crazy” while they cross to the other side of the street? We don’t often help these mentally ill. We point and laugh. But this was a chance to remember we are serving those who can’t serve themselves. Some of these patients don’t know what year it is, how to take care of themselves, or even who they can trust. It may be a small act to play BINGO with them, but the true gift is treating them with respect and dignity. If you have been considering volunteering with mentally ill patients, I strongly encourage you to. As our keynote speaker said “It isn’t always medication and treatment that changes patients lives.” I applaud all the members of SfN for working to develop medication and treatment for patients. But I want to take the time to thank all of you who have reached out to patients in person. Thank you for giving them respect, dignity, and joy. A moment of kindness can sometimes be just as powerful as a pill. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered before, your efforts are not wasted.
  3. Amanda Labuza

    Science in Hollywood

    Last week I had the joy of attending a Q&A with Ann Merchant to learn more about the Science & Entertainment Exchange. Merchant, the deputy director for communications at the National Academy of Science helped launch the Exchange in 2008. The Exchange is a place where anyone can receive free consultation from a scientist. Most of their “clients” are Hollywood writers looking to make their scenes more realistic. They have helped with the Avengers, Castle, Guardians of the Galaxy, small indie films, novels, and more. They place a large emphasis on “inspiring not accuracy”. For example, the Exchange made the suggestion to change Jane Foster’s occupation in Thor from nurse to astronomer. While this helped make more sense of how Jane met Thor, it also helped show the general public a young female in a scientific career. For too long the only scientists on tv were “stale, pale, and male”. We are now getting to show diversity and help more children see themselves as scientists one day. The NAS has also asked Hollywood to help spread messages for them. Adding sentences in shows like Grey’s Anatomy that women with HIV can still have healthy babies is a simple, effective teaching opportunity for a wide audience All scientists are welcomed to be consultants. Their main concern is that scientists can communicate with the public and are non-judgmental. No suggestion from Hollywood is stupid, just uninformed (which is why they are seeking consultation). If you are interested in getting involved with the Exchange you can find more information here. I personally am so excited Hollywood is trying to be more accurate and aware of the messages they send.
  4. Amanda Labuza

    Brain Awareness Week

    Brain Awareness Week 2018 just ended. I hope you had an opportunity to participate. I’d love to hear about the events other groups did. Please share below. For those of you who didn’t hold and event, feel free to live vicariously through my experience. Our BAW event started early morning on Pi Day. Four graduate students piled into a car and filled the trunk with human brains, mini e-phys equipment, and even a few cockroaches. We went to an inner city middle school in Baltimore and took over the science classroom. We started by introducing ourselves and in very basic terms what we study. The classes broke into three stations. The students got to spend time holding fixed human brains and comparing them to mouse and rat brains. We brought slides for them to observe and compare. The second station used the backyard brains spiker box to make a cockroach leg “dance” to music. We used the frequency of the bass to stimulate the nerves in the leg. They learned how we use electrophysiology to study action potentials and record neuronal activity. Finally, they used a simple EMG to control each other’s fingers. They discussed how our bodies use electricity and the principles behind robotic limbs. At the end of each class we saved time to discuss with students careers in science. For many of them, they had never considered anything beyond being a doctor. Many of the students had not considered they could financially afford a PhD versus an MD. The most rewarding part is always seeing a student suddenly realize science is more than just a textbook filled with simplified drawings of complex cells. Hopefully we have inspired some of them to explore their passion for science. picture 1.jpg2048×1536 362 KB Having worked with middle schools, high schools, and elementary schools, we have found middle school is the easiest to work with. Most of the high school students seemed to have already made up their mind and were not interested in changing their plans. The elementary students love the break, but we struggle to think of simple activities that last long enough to keep them occupied. The middle school students were old enough to understand what a neuron was, but young enough to still be open to new ideas. I’m interested in hearing others’ experiences. Which age group do you prefer working with? What activities worked the best for you? Please share your ideas below!
  5. Brain Awareness Week is just around the corner! It starts March 12th. It isn’t too late to plan an event. The outreach group on my campus has already arranged to visit two local middle schools during BAW. We’ll be teaching science classes for the day. While this requires a bit more than three weeks of organization, there are still plenty of other activities that can still be arranged. For example, instead of teaching the class, have you considered visiting a high school and briefly speaking at the beginning of the science classes about careers in research? Hosting a table at your local science museum is a great chance to get kids interested in the brain. Does anyone else have ideas for last minute BAW plans? Because it isn’t too late to arrange an activity for this year!
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