Medical Museum to hold its 18th annual "Brain Awareness Week"

The National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), a Department of Defense museum, will host middle-school students from around the Washington, D.C., area as part of its annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW) program. The event, now in its 18th year, will be held at NMHM in Silver Spring, Maryland, March 13-17, 2017.

"We hope that attending Brain Awareness Week at the museum inspires an interest in the brain sciences in the minds of our student visitors, potentially developing them into a new generation of neuroscientists," said Andrea Schierkolk, NMHM public program manager and BAW coordinator. "Our Brain Awareness Week partners are engaged in some of the most cutting-edge brain science research in the country. Brain Awareness Week at NMHM highlights that research and promotes the field as a career option."

NMHM's Brain Awareness Week activities take place over the course of five days. Each day, after a brief introductory talk, students rotate through hands-on activity stations to learn about different brain functions, influences on the brain, and brain disorders.

Stations are conducted by NMHM's Partners in Education (listed below), and include activities such as: "Brain Drop," where students design helmets for eggs dropped from a modest height, to reinforce the importance of wearing helmets and to discuss new advances in head protection; "The Brain Collector," led by the museum's neuroanatomical collections manager, uses actual brain specimens to spotlight brain anatomy and functions; and "Brain Pain," where students learn about the effects of brain injuries on hearing and speech.

BAW at NMHM is one of the museum's central efforts to support Department of Defense STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workforce development priorities. The BAW program is closely aligned with performance expectations for middle-school students as described in the Next Generation Science Standards set forth by the National Academy of Sciences.

NMHM is home to one of the world's most comprehensive neuroanatomical collections and features an extensive exhibit on traumatic brain injuries. The exhibit showcases actual human brain specimens that demonstrate a variety of brain injuries including hemorrhages, blunt force trauma, sharp force trauma, and concussion. BAW activities take place in and around the museum's TBI exhibit, and museum staff includes objects from the collections at several of the activity stations during the week-long program.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has a demonstrated commitment to help service members and their families prevent, recognize and recover from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). More than 350,000 active-duty service members – anywhere U.S. forces are located – have received a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000. Proper management of TBI cases has become a military medical standard of care. In March 2015, DoD's Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (a BAW Partner in Education) relaunched "A Head for the Future," a multi-year initiative to promote awareness, prevention of, and recovery from traumatic brain injury.

Media representatives are invited to cover Brain Awareness Week activities. Advance notice is required. For more information, contact Lauren Bigge, NMHM public affairs coordinator, at (301) 319-3313. BAW programs are not open to the public.

NMHM Partners in Education for the 2017 Brain Awareness Week:

About the National Museum of Health and Medicine:

The National Museum of Health and Medicine, a Department of Defense museum established in 1862 as the Army Medical Museum, inspires interest in and promotes the understanding of medicine – past, present and future – with a special emphasis on tri-service American military medicine. As a National Historic Landmark recognized for its ongoing value to the health of the military and to the nation, NMHM identifies, collects, and preserves important and unique resources to support a broad agenda of innovative exhibits, educational programs, and scientific, historical, and medical research. NMHM is an element of the Research, Development and Acquisitions Directorate of the Defense Health Agency, Falls Church, Virginia.

NMHM is located at 2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, MD, 20910, and is open daily (including weekends and holidays) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visit the website or call (301) 319-3300 for information on tour programs and special events.

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