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Brain Explorer Academy


Welcome to the CNLM’s Brain Explorer Academy where children learn about the brain from real scientists at the UC Irvine CNLM! Click here to meet the Brain Explorer Academy Team!

What is the Brain Explorer Academy?

The Brain Explorer Academy is the CNLM’s flagship educational program for children. The program is the first in the world to combine neuroscience research, scientific communication and critical thinking skills training for children by University professors and students. Founded by Manuella Yassa, Director of Outreach and Education and run by the Center’s education team, the CNLM Ambassadors, the program aims to expose young children to the wonders of the brain at an early age, teaching them the basics of neuroscience research, the scientific process, and scientific communication.

What will children learn?

Topics covered in the Spring 2018 session will include:

  • What is neuroscience?
  • What are the different parts of the brain and what does each part do?
  • How are the brains of different organisms similar? How are they different? Why are they different?
  • Can we predict what an animal’s brain will look like based on a description of the animal?
  • How do we work with scientific specimens including real sheep and human brains? What are the laboratory safety rules we must follow?
  • How do scientists study the brain? What are the steps of the scientific process?
  • Once scientists have new discoveries, how do they tell the world? What are the steps that a scientific article must go through before it can be published in a journal? Why are these steps important?
  • How do we read critically scientific articles like real scientists? What questions should we ask?

The Spring 2018 session of the Brain Explorer Academy will have 3 parts: Understanding the brain, How do scientists study the brain? and How do scientists tell the world about their discoveries?

Understanding the brain – why does it look that way and what does it do?
We will begin the session with an overview of brain science. Children will learn about basic brain anatomy and will have the opportunity to explore with sheep an human brains, learning about laboratory safety. Children will learn to connect anatomy to function and how to predict the anatomy of an organism based on descriptions of the organism.

 

How do scientists study the brain? Understanding the scientific process.
Once children have a solid understanding of the basics of what the brain does, we will move into talking about how scientists study the brain. Children will learn about various ways we can study the brain the various tools that scientists use to study the brain. Children will learn about various methods such as brain imaging, behavioral testing and animal models. Children will learn about the steps a scientist must go through to design and implement an experiment, the scientific process.

 

Let’s tell the world! How do scientists tell the world about their discoveries?
The third section of the Academy will focus on how scientists communicate their discoveries to the world. A scientific discovery would be of no use if only the researcher who ran the experiment knew about it! Scientists must tell others about their findings to share ideas and work together to solve big problems! Children will learn about the parts of a scientific article and the review process that the article must go through before it can be published. Children will be assigned to teams and matched with scientist mentors. The mentors will guide them through reading articles that have been written by real scientists for children and published in Frontiers for Young Minds. Children will then have a chance to be real reviewers and experience the review process first-hand including meeting world-renowned researchers in the Frontiers for Young Minds Live Review. 

Final Project – Frontiers for Young Minds Live Review

We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered with Frontiers for Young Minds to host a live review during the 2018 International Conference on Learning and Memory on the morning of April 21, 2018. Frontiers for Young Minds is a journal that publishes scientific articles written by real scientists and reviewed by real children. The children in the Spring 2018 cohort, along with their science mentors, will receive manuscripts (articles that have been written but not yet published) written by world-renowned neuroscientists. The children will work with their mentors to review the manuscript, coming up with questions, comments and suggestions for the author. The children will meet the scientist authors face-to-face on April 21st during a Live Review event where they will have the opportunity to challenge the authors and decide the fate of the manuscript. This will be an outrageously fun event for the entire community!

 

How much does it cost to participate in the Brain Explorer Academy?

Educating the public is integral to the mission of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. We are dedicated to shaping the next generation of brain enthusiasts who are knowledgable about their own brains, aware of the implications of mental health and most importantly, are critical consumers of science. As such, participation in the Brain Explorer Academy is 100% free. There is an application process to participate in the program and acceptance into the program is based on merit. The Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory is a non-profit organization whose programs are funded by philanthropic contributions of the community. Contributions in any amount are always appreciated and can be made by clicking here. 

Meeting details

All meetings will include large group discussions, small group workshops and lots of hands-on activities.

Location: Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine
Time: 10:30am – 12pm
Dates: The Spring 2018 Brain Explorer Academy will meet on the following dates:

Meeting #1: January 27, 2018
Meeting #2: February 10, 2018
Meeting #3: February 24, 2018
Meeting #4: March 10, 2018
Meeting #5: April 7, 2018
Meeting #6: April 14, 2018 – Practice for Live Review
Meeting #7: April 21, 2018 – LIVE REVIEW at Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach.
Meeting #8: May 5, 2018 – Final meeting, pizza party.

Requirements to Apply

The requirements for the Spring 2018 cohort are as follows:

  • Children must be age 8-14
  • Children must be able to attend the Live Review event on Saturday April 21, 2018 10:30am – 12:30pm at the Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach. This is the final project of the session and attendance is mandatory.
  • Children must be able to attend at least 7 out of the 8 meetings scheduled (see above for schedule)

Click here to apply to participate in the Brain Explorer Academy

Applications for the Spring 2018 cohort of the Brain Explorer Academy has closed.
Please stay tuned for more information about future sessions.

Questions? Please email us at memory@uci.edu