U of S students offer neuroscience fun during Brain Awareness Week

SASKATOON - Jell-O brains, a mock MRI and a hands-on laboratory are just a few of the attractions coming to Saskatoon during Brain Awareness Week in Saskatoon from March 10 to 16.

Why Jell-O?

"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 fragile our brains really are."

Gerwing, together with U of S neuroscience students, will be bringing Brain Day presentations to selected Grade 4 to 6 classrooms across the city. Activities are focused on teaching 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 March 16 at noon with Brain Blast at Saskatoon City Hospital, featuring a series of activities aimed at the whole family, including a mock MRI machine, neuroscience lab 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 Erin Fenton, coordinator 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."

Fenton explained a new feature of Brain Awareness Week this year will be the launch of a Brain Bee, a competition for high school students modelled 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," Fenton said.

There are about 150 local Brain Bee coordinators in 30 different countries that conduct competitions, and winners can progress all the way to the annual International Brain Bee Championship.

Fenton explained part of the Saskatoon program will offer high school students a chance to tour actual working laboratories showcasing some of the neuroscience research being conducted on campus. The first Saskatoon Brain Bee is scheduled for April 12, 2014.

Brain Awareness Week is a world-wide campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. In Saskatoon, the week's offerings are sponsored by the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Neuroscience Network, Saskatoon Health Region and the Acquired Brain Injury Partnership Project (a joint initiative of the Government of Saskatchewan and SGI).


For more information, contact:


Erin Fenton

U of S Coordinator, Brain Awareness Week

University of Saskatchewan




Julie Gerwing

Education and Prevention Coordinator

Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Team

Saskatoon City Hospital

(306) 655-8433

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