The Value of Outreach
In our NSCS community, outreach to the public is a highly valued activity. We believe that part of our professional role is communication about neuroscience and cognitive science to people across the age span, sharing with them knowledge about the nervous system that helps them understand the amazing organ in our heads – how it develops, how it works, how we can keep it functioning well, and how it is affected by injury and disease. We have many outreach opportunities in which students and faculty participate, from K-12 classroom visits to science fairs to summer camps and public events like the Tucson Festival of Books in which we have a large hands-on booth in the Science City part of the Festival. We provide student volunteers for the Brain Bus, a mobile outreach unit offered by an outreach partner, the Center for Neuroscience medical practice. And, our NSCS club (NSCSAS) has outreach as a major part of its mission. It’s great fun and much needed.
The Brain Bus
A mobile neuroscience public outreach unit to bring neuroscience to students and the general public all over southern Arizona. The bus is owned by the Center for Neuroscience Foundation, the non-profit arm of a large neuroscience-based medical practice in Tucson. NSCS students Ryan Mammana and Kathryn Chung have been working as interns with Dr. Oland in the process of locating, purchasing, designing, outfitting, and fundraising for the bus. We're now working on developing the "curriculum" for the bus. Stay tuned! There will be lots of volunteer opportunities coming up!
The Brainworks Booth
Each spring the UA hosts the Tucson Festival of Books, one of the largest book festivals in the country. A sizeable portion of the Festival is reserved for Science City. Science City hosts a huge number of different science-themed booths and stations designed to display and demonstrate science to the general community in a fun and interactive way. One of those booths is the Brainworks booth, co-sponsored by the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior and by the Tucson Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.
The Brainworks booth is a great opportunity for NSCS students to get out there and tap into the public’s interest in the brain. Stations at the Brainworks booth typically include: a brain zoo (including a human brain!); many sensory stations (taste, temperature and pain, touch and proprioception); prism glasses and mirror boxes to show rapid brain plasticity; a physiology station or two (antennograms, EMGs); a kid’s table; an aphasia station; an audiology station at which there will be testing of sound levels coming out of head-sets; and one on traumatic brain injury. In addition, there are 4-5 volunteers who are our "roving neuroscientists." These volunteers are free to move around Science City with their demos and their awesome brain hats and interact with people on the fly. The rovering neuroscientists do fun demonstrations such as illusions, reaction time and multi-tasking, and the jelly bean taste-vs-smell test.