"Very few people have actually seen a real brain, but everyone has seen Jell-O," said Julie Gerwing, Education and Prevention Coordinator with Saskatoon City Hospital's Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Team. "It's a fun and simple way to help us get across the idea of just how interesting the brain is and that its consistency is similar to that of Jell-O, illustrating that it is important for us to take care of our brain."
Gerwing, together with a team of U of S health science students, will be bringing Brain Day presentations to selected Grade 4 to 6 classrooms across the city. Activities are focused on teaching elementary students fun facts about the brain, as well as practical advice on preventing injury such as proper adjustment and wearing of helmets.
The week culminates on Sunday, March 22 from 12-3 p.m. with Brain Blast at Saskatoon City Hospital, featuring a series of activities aimed at the whole family including a mock MRI machine, neuroscience lab, Jeopardy, and other interactive "brain stations." Visitors are encouraged to bring their snowboard and bicycle helmets for some expert fitting service.
"Brain Blast is aimed at teaching the community about the importance of brain research and some of the exciting work being done right here at the University of Saskatchewan," said Lisa Poon, one of the coordinators of Brain Blast for the Saskatchewan Neuroscience Network at the U of S. "It's a free, family-focused event and a great way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon."
Poon explained a new feature of Brain Awareness Week this year will be the launch of a Brain Bee, a competition for high school students modeled after a spelling bee. The international program is focused on motivating students to learn about the brain and inspire them to pursue neuroscience careers.
"Brain Bees test your knowledge on a wide variety of topics, from memory, sleep and sensations, to things like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, stroke, schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, addiction, and brain research in general," Poon said. There are about 150 local Brain Bee coordinators in 30 different countries that conduct competitions.
More details about the Brain Bee, as well as a whole series of fun brain-related activities for the whole family will be available at Brain Blast on Sunday, March 22 at the City Hospital atrium from 12-3 p.m.
Brain Blast will finish off Brain Awareness Week, which is a world-wide campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.
For more information, contact:
Education and Prevention Coordinator
Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Team
Saskatoon City Hospital
U of S Coordinator, Brain Awareness Week
University of Saskatchewan