International Brain Awareness Week

In 2022 and 2023 ABC together with the Neuroscience Institute were delighted to partner with Yabonga Children’s Project in celebration of International Brain Awareness Week. This globally commemorated event offered the exciting opportunity to welcome over 100 Grade 7 Learners from schools in Mfuleni (Bardale and Itsitsa Primary Schools) and Cross Roads (Imbasa and Kuyakhana Primary Schools) to enjoy a day of lectures and practical tutorials on our most complex and magnificent organ, the brain. The program included a diverse range of academics from Human Biology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Paediatrics and included hands-on practicals and interactive talks that exposed Learners to a broad range of neuroscience topics. The Learners were guided through the macroscopic and microscopic structure of the brain with the aid of anatomical specimens and histological slides of brain cells which they admired under the microscope. Also under the microscope, learners were able to observe the stages of brain development by examining egg embryos at different stages of growth. The electrochemical nature of brain activity was demonstrated with the aid of live Madagascan hissing cockroaches connected to tiny electrodes that stimulated their legs to move in time with music. Practical talks on essential ways for Learners to maintain a healthy brain included the importance of sleep and good sleep hygiene, the critical need to buckle up when traveling in cars, and strategies to identify and manage poor mental health. Lunch-time activities facilitated some fun and creativity as Learners were given colourful clay to mould neurons and brain structures to take home as mementos of the day. Through this initiative we hoped to share the wonders of the brain, impart the joys of scientific inquiry, and inspire the next generation of neuroscientists. We were delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from the Learners, their Educators and Schools, and hope to see this initiative grow and evolve in coming years. These events were generously supported by the Crick African Network, the South African Medical Research Council, the Gabriel Foundation, the Junk Shop and CK Laser and Design.


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