Teens offered a peek into brain functioning

MIDDLEBURY — “Discover the Brain! A Day of Neuroscience for High School Students” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Middlebury College’s Bicentennial Hall. This event, geared to teens, has come about due to the increased interest in the hot topic of the brain.
To give you some background: For several years the Middlebury College Neuroscience (NSCI) undergraduates have been volunteering to help area high school students by teaching them about the brain. Students from Middlebury Union High School, Mount Abraham Union High School in Bristol, and Otter Valley Union High School in Brandon get weekly or biweekly sessions from September through February. They meet to learn about the brain and neuroscience in preparation for the annual Vermont Brain Bee held at the University of Vermont on Feb. 20, 2016.
MUHS seems to luck out every year, as they are able to get weekly visits because of its proximity with the college. Even the early hour of 7-8:15 a.m. does not deter the 10-12 students that attend the Brain Science Club meetings. They come eager to hear what Olivia Artaiz and Nikki Schachman, two seniors from Middlebury College, have to say about action potential, sensation and perception, among other topics.
Harriett Milligan, a senior at MUHS, makes a positive comment about these sessions: “I have always been fascinated by the brain but have never had the resources or opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. But now with the Middlebury College students coming in, I can learn about how the nervous system works. They are great at teaching the material in a fun, vibrant way as well as showing us mini experiments and tricks to help us remember the content. With all this new knowledge I’m excited to go to the ‘Discover the Brain’ day and listen to speakers, as well as test out my knowledge with the Mini Brain Bee!”
The Discover the Brain day will include events like talks by experts and student researchers, demonstrations including actual human brains, electrical recordings, sensory and movement analysis, and current thinking on nutrition and neuroscience.
We conclude the day with a Mini Brain Bee that will include written questions and a Jeopardy-like contest.
This event is free and open to any high school student. It is put on by the Middlebury College NSCI undergraduates, faculty, and other community professionals who are all donating their time. A light lunch is being provided through money obtained from a Community Engagement FLEX FUND and donations from Sunshine Orchards, American Flatbread, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op and other private donations.
For more information about Discover the Brain day, go online to vermontbrainbee.com and view the “Happenings” tab. For questions, email vermontbrainbee@gmail.com.

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