All about Brains at “Super Neuroscience Saturday”

Super Neuroscience Saturday 1

On November 23, 2013, Dr. Bobby Heagerty from Oregon Health & Science University led students through a discussion of how their brains work at the "Brain Station," as part of Super Neuroscience Saturday at the National Museum of Natural History. (Photo by Mark DeLoura)

Last Saturday, OSTP co-hosted an interactive day of neuroscience activities for local middle school students to explore the science of brains. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Society for Neuroscience, OSTP staffers and participating scientists helped students wrap their minds (and hands!) around applied neuroscience concepts including health, learning, and memory.

The first part of Super NeuroScience Saturday took place during the day at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s new Q?rius exhibit, which opens to the public on December 12. More than 70 students from Washington, DC, public schools explored exhibits by rotating through four different hands-on learning stations. Each station came staffed by top neuroscience experts from participating universities, including George Washington University, the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, Oregon Health and Sciences University, and University of New England.

The exhibits invited students to explore the anatomy of brains with hand-held brain models, challenged students’ attention and memories with interactive videos, offered a first-hand glimpse of the Museum’s actual scientific collections and specimens, and even included a real-life demonstration of a neuroprosthetic arm.

Later, at an evening event hosted at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Super Neuroscience Saturday continued with lectures and a discussion panel featuring neuroscience experts Dr. Elizabeth Albro (Institute of Education Sciences), Dr. Shari Ling (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), and Dr. Hunter Peckham (Case Western Reserve University). OSTP’s Principal Assistant Director for Science Philip Rubin delivered remarks highlighting the White House Neuroscience Initiative and moderated a discussion aimed at fostering engagement among scientists, policy makers, and the public on neuroscience research. The evening concluded with a poster session showcasing works from scientists and researchers from local colleges, universities, and government agencies.

For students at the day exhibits and attendees at the evening panel, last Saturday was indeed a super day for neuroscience! You can learn more about the White House Neuroscience Initiative at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/initiatives.

Super Neuroscience Saturday 2

On November 23, 2013, as part of Super Neuroscience Saturday at the National Museum of Natural History, a "Museum Station" introduced students to brains using functional models and specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections. (Photo by Jennifer Lee)

Carlos Peña is Assistant Director for Emerging Technologies at OSTP.

Jennifer Lee is Senior Associate General Counsel and Policy Advisor at OSTP.

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