Brain Awareness Week

Partner

Reports

Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina

Organized by:
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina

Participating Organizations:
North Carolina Life + Science Museum, Durham, NC

Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:

1

Year:

2015

Type of Events Held:

  • Exhibit

Target Audiences:

  • Elementary school students(1-5)
  • General Public
  • High School students(9-12)
  • Middle school students(6-8)
  • Other
  • Other: Preschool

Approximate Number of People Reached:

760

Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:

Can you always believe your eyes? How about your senses of sound, touch and smell? For Brain Awareness Week, the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies sponsored the interactive exhibit “Brain Tricks – Sensation and Perception” at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. Visitors explored the brain by observing and touching a postmortem human brain as well as sheep, dog shark and rodent brains. Scientists talked with visitors about brain function and which parts of the brain control various senses. Next, scientists showed visitors one way that the brain can trick our senses – in the McGurk effect, what we see (lip-reading) overrides what we hear (the sounds “Baa,” “Daa” or “Vaa”). We used scented balloons to illustrate a Stroop-like effect – it is easier to identify an odor (cherry, lemon) when it is presented in a balloon of a congruent color (red, yellow) than if the color does not match the odor. We also had examples of optical illusions and some tactile illusions (e.g., the “Aristotle illusion” and the “dead hand trick”). The exhibit was staffed by >40 scientists and students from UNC and Duke University. Approximately 550 children and 200 adults came through the exhibit over 5 days! When asked their favorite activity, children answered “[the] brain, because it’s squishy and fun,” “I [heart] everything! The balloons smell so good!” and “I was quite fond of the auditory illusion.” When asked what they learned, one child answered “your brain expects the obvious.”

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Emails
  • Posters/Flyers
  • Website

Which of These Publicity Methods Was The Most Successful?

We were listed on the museum website and on flyers and signs within the museum. The museum has a consistent stream of visitors made up primarily of school groups on field trips and families.

Resources

Of the Dana Foundation publications/resources distributed at your event(s), if any, please indicate the three most popular. Please choose up to three. If "other," please indicate below:

  • Q&A: Answering Your Questions About Brain Research
  • More Mindbogglers!
  • BAW Stickers
  • BAW Pencils and Erasers
  • BAW Buttons

Which BAW graphic materials did you use in publicizing your events?

  • BAW Logos

Feedback & Keys to Success

How do you feel BAW participation benefited your organization and the local community?

BAW participation benefited the community by providing fun and engaging interaction with scientists. The children and adults that visited reported that it was exciting to see real brains and the illusions were fun. Participation also benefited our organization by providing UNC scientists with an outlet for community outreach and the chance to deliver a prevention message for general brain health and responsible alcohol drinking.

Please share any suggestions or lessons learned that may help others plan future events:

We provided volunteers with a detailed "script" for each activity to help them to interact with visitors. We also provided an optional training session where volunteers could try each activity ahead of time.

Did/do you like our Facebook page?

No

Quotable comments which capture successful aspects of your event(s):

When asked their favorite activity, children answered “[the] brain, because it’s squishy and fun,” “I [heart] everything! The balloons smell so good!” and “I was quite fond of the auditory illusion.” When asked what they learned, one child answered “your brain expects the obvious.”

Event Photos

event single

event single

Contact Information

BAW Website:

N/A

Contact Name:

Donita Robinson

Contact Phone:

919-966-9178

Contact Email:

dlr@unc.edu

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