It has been an exciting year for BrainReach North! We have been developing lots of new teaching materials, forging collaborations with school boards, and reaching out to northern communities for opportunities to bring hands-on neuroscience lessons to their schools.
A lot of planning and preparation over the past year culminated in two successful outreach trips done this May; the first trip was to Kuujjuarapik, and the second to Mistissini and Waswanipi. We are grateful to our contacts in these communities for welcoming us warmly and making these trips possible!
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Check out our new cow brain dissection video on YouTube! A downloadable version of the video is available here, under "Bonus Materials": Activity - What are our brains made of?
(We will also be adding a vocabulary sheet soon, so stay tuned!)
If you suddenly found yourself in a foreign country, how long would it take you to start speaking their language?
Beluga whales and dolphins are two species, which communicate through calls, just like birds or humans. Social animals such as dolphins must communicate with each other for bonding, mating, and group activities, such as hunting and migrating.
One beluga whale has shown the amazing ability of “learning” the language of another species! This captive beluga whale was moved to a dolphinarium in Russia, where its only companions were dolphins. In the beginning, the beluga whale continued to make beluga calls, but after two months of living with dolphins, she started making dolphin whistles instead of beluga calls!
Can I contribute to scientific discovery without even leaving my home? Yes, by being a citizen scientist. What is a citizen scientist? Anyone who participates in large group projects led by professional scientists. Citizen scientists do not just repeat old experiments with known outcomes. They actually contribute to creating new knowledge. There are many different groups asking the public to help provide or analyze data, which will then be grouped together by professional scientists.
Why not turn your science lesson into a party, and not just any kind of party but a mouse party! At BrainReach North, we love this online tool called Mouse Party designed by the University of Utah Genetics Science Learning Center. It is an interactive game where there are cartoon mice on various psychoactive drugs. You can put each of them in a special machine that looks into their brain. Once in this machine, there is a simplified demonstration on how these drugs alter the brain’s natural reward system.
What does a brain do when it sees a friend across the street?
- It gives a brain wave.
What do you call a skull without 1 billion neurons?
- A no-brainer.
A pumpkin and a salmon walk into an fMRI. And what happens?
Neuroscience doesn’t just make you think but it can also make you laugh! Here is a study which goes to hilarious lengths to analyze the efficacy of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRIs are large brain scanners that measure the brain’s activity levels. What these scientists did was first, put a pumpkin into the brain scanner. If you look closely, you can see the pumpkin seeds but overall the contrast was very low.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal is arguably one of the founding fathers of neuroscience. His birthday is May 1st, 1852 and would have been 165 this year. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his early discoveries on the structure of the brain. Fun fact about Cajal – he remains extremely well known in the Spanish community, so much so that his life has become a TV miniseries.
Want to shake up your science lesson? We have the activity for you! This activity can be done with our “How Do Neurons Communicate” video or PowerPoint presentation found on our website. The goal of this activity is to illustrate how neurons make connections with each other to pass along signals. One neuron can be connected to thousands of other neurons, forming a neuronal network.
To start, get everyone to join hands in a line. Starting at one end, get the student to squeeze the hand on the person next to them, when they feel the squeeze they squeeze the hand of the person next to them and so on. Ask the following questions and provide answers below.
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