APU Hosts Brain Awareness Fair at Azusa Middle School

How do you make grey matter, matter to middle school kids? Show them a real human brain and engage them in science experiments that boggle the mind.

To educate students about the importance of brain health, Azusa Pacific University brings the first Brain Awareness Fair to Center Middle School, 5500 North Cerritos Ave., in Azusa. On Wed., Feb. 22, approximately 250 seventh graders will forego their life science textbooks and classrooms for a morning of hands-on learning and natural discovery complete with take home games, puzzles, and trivia. The Brain Awareness Fair, located in the school’s cafeteria, features five exhibits:

  • Anatomy of the Brain: Students view actual mice, sheep, and human brains. A “brain in a bag” simulates the weight and consistency of a human brain.
  • What is a Neuron? Students learn how neurons communicate via electrical signals to makes muscles contract. They see and hear the electrical signals of neurons in a live cockroach leg.
  • Your Brain and the Senses: Three experiments demonstrate how the brain perceives the world through the five senses (sometimes sensing things that are not there).
  • The Brain on Drugs: Fatal vision goggles simulate the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain’s use of sight, motor ability, and reaction time.
  • Take Care of Your Brain: “Mr. Egg Head,” an egg drop, and a shaken egg in a Tupperware container show the importance of helmet safety, how the brain is built to withstand injury, and the impact of healthy diet and exercise on brain function. Real MRI films of normal brain anatomy and those with brain injuries, including concussions, are on display.

Skyla Herod, Ph.D., assistant professor in APU’s Department of Biology and Chemistry, is the Brain Awareness Fair organizer. She recruited 28 APU senior neurobiology students to design and implement the exhibits.

“By presenting science in a fun, interactive way, we hope to inspire some of these middle school students to pursue science majors in college,” Herod said. “We go beyond the D.A.R.E. no-use message to teach kids what drugs and alcohol do to the brain. The program also emphasizes how a balanced diet and regular exercise improve mental function and encourage new brain cell growth, as well as the importance of wearing a helmet and sports safety.”

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is March 12—18, 2012. The global BAW campaign increases public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. APU will also partner with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to celebrate BAW with three campus lectures featuring leaders in neuroscience and a weeklong Brain Awareness Fair held on Cougar Walk. To learn more about APU’s involvement with BAW, contact Skyla Herod at (626) 815-6000, Ext. 6619 or sherod@apu.edu.

Azusa Pacific University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers seven undergraduate science majors through two departments, preparing the next generation of scientists, teachers, doctors, and dentists.Students major in Applied Health, Bio Chemistry, Biology, Chemistry , Math/Physics, Mathematics, and Physics.