Cortical Connections in San Diego Schools!

After three enjoyable days of poster presentations, nano-symposia, exhibitor swag and excellent conversations with fellow neuroscience educators and SfN staff about arts integration in STEM…

image1

image3

And quite a lot of neuron selfies… ūüôā

image4

image6

image5

EXPLORE MORE:  Synapses in San Diego, Noggin @ SfN

…we happily rescued¬†our accomplished NW Noggin volunteers from the¬†limitless carpeted hallways and ballrooms of¬†the San Diego Convention Center and plunged¬†them into classrooms in the¬†San Diego Public Schools!

image1

It is one thing to present posters and talk about brain awareness with 35,000 brain researchers at the stimulating Society for Neuroscience conference, but quite another to make connections with public school teachers, parents, kids  Р and bring young scientists directly into the community to teach about their own brain research through art!

fullsizerender

image1

We partnered this time with UC San Diego Neuroscience, and the tireless Caroline Sferazza, a Graduate Fellow who introduced a striking collection of animal brains, including porpoise and penguin, human and cow..!

image10

Caroline (left) with Jefferson parent volunteer and artist Maria Elena Cruz

image1

Caroline joined Noggin participants¬†Allie Clark from Psychology at Portland State University,¬†Dr. John Harkness and Alexandria Camino from Neuroscience at WSU Vancouver, Dr. Morgan Wirthlin from Carnegie Mellon University (formerly of¬†OHSU), Dr. Amanda Barkeley-Levenson from UC San Diego Psychiatry (also formerly from¬†OHSU), and Scott Jones, Alfredo Zuniga, Rebecca Hood and Andre Walcott from OHSU Behavioral Neuroscience, who¬†volunteered their time and energy to meet with 250 enthusiastic 4th and 5th grade students at¬†Jefferson Elementary and Linda Vista Elementary¬†on a sunny San Diego¬†morning…

image1

fullsizerender

image4

image3

We began the day at Jefferson, divided into three classrooms, and introduced ourselves and what we do, and study. ¬†Our graduate participants had practiced explaining their research ¬†– ¬†on Parkinson’s disease, brain development, the genetics of songbird communication, hearing loss, cocaine addiction, alcoholism ¬†– ¬†in accessible terms…

These kids knew plenty! ¬†When discussing the nature of energy and its conversion from the electromagnetic spectra of visible light to¬†current flow in neurons, we brought up¬†animals that are active primarily at night. ¬†One girl asked “do you mean nocturnal?” ūüôā

image2

Why yes we did! ūüôā

image1

Noggin Arts Coordinator Jeff Leake then introduced the art¬†project for the day, our¬†venerable pipe cleaner neurons, which we promised would hang as a colorful network at the Society for Neuroscience conference later that afternoon…

image8

image10

image2

image1

image4

image6

image9

MAKE YOUR OWN NEURONS
LEARN MORE:  pipe-cleaner-neuron-project-background
CREATE:  how-to-make-a-pipe-cleaner-neuron

Meanwhile Caroline, Scott and Rebecca thrived in an educational onslaught of excited, curious 4th and 5th graders eager to hold, examine and ask questions about brains..!

image4

image1

image3

image1

image7

image8

image11

image1

image1

We thoroughly respected the porpoise brain (in the foreground;  half a human in back!)

image13

EXPLORE MORE:  Cetaceans Have Complex Brains for Complex Cognition

image2

We then moved by uber and Lyft to Linda Vista Elementary  Р whose mascot is a dolphin!

image9

EXPLORE MORE: ¬†What’s the difference between dolphins and porpoises?

Once again we described our backgrounds, this time to 140 4th and 5th graders at once!

image2

image4

image2

image5

It was a joy to watch Alfredo Zuniga introduce himself, and hear¬†shouts of “hey, I’m Alfredo too!” from several kids in the auditorium! ¬†Alex Camino from WSU Vancouver also enjoyed introducing el cerebro and las neuronas to these accomplished students at Linda Vista, many of whom were fluent in both Spanish and¬†ingles…

image3

Jeff again introduced the neuron project…

image2

image4

image5

image2

And Alfredo, Rebecca and Caroline were the brain wranglers!

image1

image1

image2

image2

image5

image2

image7

image9

image1

image6

We had art…

image2

And science ¬†– ¬†several students told us they’d ¬†like to be neuroscientists! ¬†Happily, Emma Lindberg from SfN was there¬†with Brain Facts books as gifts for the classroom…

image1

After an exhilarating five hours of pipe cleaners and brains, we returned to our Noggin booth at the Convention Center, and were able to construct¬†a pretty dramatic neural network thanks to the creative students at Jefferson and Linda Vista…

image3

image2

Allie Clark from Portland State¬†University (above right) paid her own way to the conference, and spent days staffing our¬†popular Art of Neuroscience table outside Ballroom 20! ¬†(Allie is also quite an accomplished pipe cleaner neuron artist ūüôā

image1

For hours we fielded questions from curious neuroscientists, who were thrilled to see (and photograph!) the network, and learn about the 4th and 5th grade artists from San Diego Public Schools. ¬†“They’re irresistible!” exclaimed one researcher…

image1

image2

image3

image8

With certain filters, we discovered, the network looked Golgi-stained!

image6

EXPLORE MORE:  The Golgi Stain: invention, diffusion and impact on neurosciences

Many thanks to Caroline Sferazza, the staff, teachers and students of Jefferson and Linda Vista, and Rob Corona from San Diego Unified School District Office of School Innovations, who arranged our visits and emailed the following: ¬†“This has been hands down one of the best experiences I have had in connection with the schools… thank you so much!”

image1

image9

Comments are closed