Brains explained

Brain Awareness Week outreach at the Discovery Centre

- March 14, 2014

Students Yasmeen Beydoun and Maggie McCann use pipe cleaners to explain the brain. (Danny Abriel photos)

For something that we use every day, it’s rare that we get the opportunity to take an up-close and personal look at how the brain works.

That’s what dozens of grade-school kids were able to do this past Wednesday, March 12 at the Discovery Centre. Dal faculty and students teamed up to offer a hands-on experience as part of the annual Brain Awareness Week. Halifax is one of 600 sites worldwide that puts on a brain-themed week each year.

Shaun Boe, assistant professor in the School of Physiotherapy, is the coordinator of Brain Awareness Week activities in Halifax.

“It’s really important to talk to the public about things like neuroscience research in a fun, easy to understand way,” says Dr. Boe. “This is what Brain Awareness Week is all about.”

With free public events happening all week — from brain trivia, to film screenings, to an “ask the experts” panel — there’s been a little something for everyone.

Learn more: Brain Awareness Week website



The Discovery Centre event was led by the Undergraduate Neuroscience Society.  Coordinator Maggie McCann said she was super excited to be “teaching kids something about their brains.”

And teach they did. By far the most popular segment was the dissection of a sheep’s retina, which was both equally quease-inducing and fascinating for both kids and adults alike.

“The student volunteers are talking to kids from toddlers to teens about neurons and how they function, in a fun and easy to understand way,” said Dr. Boe. “They are doing a pretty amazing job.”

McCann says the week has been a big success, with larger than expected attendance at many events, and it’s been a great personal experience for her as well.

“Running these events and fundraising for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Nova Scotia (Halifax-Dartmouth branch) all year long have really built my organizational skills,” she said. “All I really know is that eventually I want to work with kids and do something brain related some day.”


Left to right: students Jordan Boudreau, Yasmeen Beydoun and Maggie McCann.


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