Community Neuroscience: How to Build an Outreach Organization

The latest episode of Community Neuroscience is out and all about how to build an outreach organization from the ground up. Neuroscientist Bill Griesar, Ph.D., and artist Jeff Leake, M.F.A., are faculty members of Portland State University’s psychology department, and together they are the brains behind NW Noggin (Northwest Neuroscience Outreach Group: Growing in Networks).

Founded in 2012, the arts-influenced outreach group is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization with a mission to turn kids on to the wonders of neuroscience. Bill and Jeff have since traveled all across the country to schools, displaced youth shelters, correctional facilities, and even the White House to promote learning about the brain. You can learn more about them and their work in a past Dana Blog interview.

Learn about the Brain: Lesson Plans for Grades 6-8 Now Available

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Photo: Shutterstock

For teachers who want to incorporate lessons about the brain into their classrooms, we have new and exciting lesson plans available on our website, which can be downloaded for free. Geared towards grades 6-8, each lesson plan comes with a PowerPoint presentation and includes a hands-on activity to get students as involved as possible in learning about the brain.

The first lesson, Design an Imaginary Animal, gives students a breakdown of how different animals’ brains are composed and why. Paired with our fact sheet How Does the Brain Work?, students go over basic neuroanatomy and are then split into groups of three to come up with their own imaginary animal, and build its brain using Play-Doh, enlarging parts of the brain that correlate to a heightened brain function. For example, animals with a strong sense of smell would have a large olfactory lobe.

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It’s Brain Awareness Week 2017! Check out the Calendar of Events!

It is Brain Awareness Week (BAW) 2017 (March 13-19), and there are over 675 events on the BAW Calendar of Events! Across five continents, people of all ages are celebrating BAW through lectures and symposiums, exhibits, workshops, lab tours, school visits, and much more!

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A demonstration of how neurons work during Brain Awareness Week 2016, organized by the Electrophysiology Lab and Neurophysiology Lab, Multidisciplinary Institute of Cell Biology in Argentina.

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Brain Awareness Week Partner Interview: NW Noggin

This is the third in a series of Brain Awareness Week (BAW) partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Bill Griesar, Ph.D., is a psychology and neuroscience professor at Portland State University (PSU), Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and is the neuroscience outreach coordinator for NW Noggin (Neuroscience Outreach Group Growing In Networks). Griesar works together with Jeff Leake, who also teaches at PSU and WSUV, and is NW Noggin’s art education coordinator.   

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Griesar (left) and Leake (right) at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego

NW Noggin was conceptualized in 2012 for a group of middle school students at a public school in Portland, Oregon. With support from organizations like the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and the Association for Psychological Science, your group has now expanded to a nationwide focus. Can you talk about how you were able to expand so rapidly in such a short amount of time? 

BG: Through the tireless enthusiasm of our graduate and undergraduate volunteers, who quickly discovered how much they enjoy sharing what they’re learning about the brain with young people and the public. It’s also the multi-disciplinary nature of the outreach, with young scientists and artists working together and discovering similarities in their process: the creative experimentation, the structure-function relationships, the fun, often the messiness, and certainly the need to communicate!

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Brain Awareness Week 2017: New Downloadable Materials

Brain Awareness Week 2017 (March 13-19) is approaching and new materials are now available for both adults and kids on the Brain Awareness Week (BAW) website! The fact sheets are easy for BAW partners to print and distribute and provide an easy way to disseminate concise information on the brain to a broad audience. The Dana Alliance’s newly translated materials are particularly useful for international BAW partners.

Brain Briefs on “The Senses” (“Vision”, “Hearing” and “Smell & Taste”) are now available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German on the Downloadable Materials for Adults page! They provide information on how the senses work, how perception happens at the neurological level, and address problems that can arise, such as hearing loss from loud noises, vision loss in the aging eye, and decline in smell and taste as we age and due to illness. In addition, there are fact sheets that answer common questions about the brain based on Q&A: Answering Your Questions About the Brain translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German. There are also three new versions of the new “What is Brain Awareness Week?” animation, featuring translations in French, Portuguese, and Spanish:

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