Jason Lee – Summer 2015

NW Noggin continues our partnership with SUN Schools for the 2015 NW Noggin Summer Outreach Program! As in years past, Jason Lee had another enthusiastic team of dedicated participants this summer. Our team consisted of students of various levels and institutions, including OHSU, PNCA, and PSU, who came together with a common goal of creating an exciting, challenging, engaging, and creative 3 weeks of neuroscience and art education.

Jason Lee Summer Outreach Plan

Planning & Preparation


We got the opportunity to meet our students before the program began! For some, this was their 3rd summer with NW Noggin! For others it was their first exposure to our approach on outreach and education – they could only imagine all the fun, creative and approachable ways our team came up with to convey the complex and often intimidating topic of neuroscience.

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Week 1

The 3 week summer program begins! Jason Lee had a VERY busy first week – lobes, neurons, action potentials, and more!

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IMG_1805OHSU graduate student

Brian Mills guiding us through some

of the major structures of the brain

                                                Shawn Mahmood  from PSU, posing with

                                                             his pipe cleaner neuron!








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Adrienne in action!


Week 2

In need of a fun way to convey some major areas of the cortex? We got you covered! Jason Lee had a very popular class experience:  building brain hats!

Details on this lesson: Brain hat lesson plan pdf

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Before we made our brain hats, students first made their own tempera paints out of egg and bright, scented spices!

Egg tempera lesson plan


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IMG_2484                       Check out this neuronal network, made by our amazing students at Jason Lee! Below is art coordinator Ivy, teaching to a captivated audience

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To go along with our lesson on the sense of taste, we had a taste test! First, students tasted various foods, including cherry tomatoes, potato chips, lemons, limes  –  even apple cider vinegar! Then the students were given a miracle berry, which contains a chemical (miraculin) that binds to the sweet taste receptor. The perception of taste, even though we ate the same foods as before, was quite a different experience after the miracle berry!

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At neutral or basic pH, our sweet receptor does not respond.  But acidic foods, like the lemons or limes we ate, provoke a change in the structure of the receptor when attached to miraculin, activating it and making sour things taste VERY sweet… 🙂

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Another great day was when we learned about the visual system!

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jasonleeweek2flag To help us understand how our photoreceptors work we created our own after images! Click to see our After Image Activity Guide





jasonleeweek2hear  Continuing our theme of perceptual sensation, hearing!

…and later combining our senses in a game of Marco-Polo!


We also covered the often overlooked sense of somatosensation! We began by having everyone stick their hands into 4 different bags, trying to figure out what was inside.


Then we played a version of telephone to see how long it would take for a “stimuli” (the first person in the chain) to reach the “neuron” (last person), and if the signal experienced any interference along its pathway.

We played the fake arm experiment! jasonleeweek2hand






.                                    Brian and Andrea taught us about the homunculus!


Week 3

To start our final week off, our students were asked how our brains are affected by emotions. The class learned some ways we can use art to express our emotions. 

Check out the outline for our created activity – Abstract Expressionist Pictionary


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We had a fun final week, but like all good things our program had to end! We were sad to leave, but our memories with this amazing group of students will stay with us! For our final day at Jason Lee we had a party!

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Our gifted art coordinator Ivy carved this brain out of a melon! IMG_3492



We played a fun game of Brain-Jeopardy created by our instructors. The amount of information to present students, and what they might be able to retain is a typical question asked by our first year instructors during the planning stages. Our students’ ability not only to remember much of the new and often complex information taught in 3 weeks time, but to work through complex questions and come out asking more questions often leave us amazed.

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We also had a surprise visitor! Lindsay has been a dedicated participant with NW Noggin for years – she was an instructor at Jason Lee for the 2013 Summer Program, and a science coordinator for the 2014 Summer Program! Some of our students at Jason Lee have been with us for 3 years, and Lindsay’s reunion was a testament to the connections (neural and personal) that can be made and sustained when passionate people of any age are given the opportunity to come together in shared interests.

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Check out past Summer Programs at Jason Lee! 2013 (left image) and 2014 (right image)













This is what learning looks like…










The Human to Human interface from Backyard Brains in action..!

Human to Human interface at Jason Lee 2015

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PSU undergraduate Rebecca Saunders made a Noggin video as part of her capstone course…

And the always supportive and ever-enthusiastic SUN Site Coordinator for Jason Lee, Rebecca Wood, stopped by on our last day!

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Our Jason Lee team…
Adrienne Lawrence (PSU), Brian Mills (OHSU), Elizabeth Olson (PSU), Ivy Loughborough (PNCA), Shawn Mahmood (PSU), Rebecca Saunders (PSU), Wendy Miller (PSU), Andrea McDermed (PSU), and Sam Carpenter (OHSU).  Special thanks to Rebecca Wood from SUN!

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