National Museum Of Health And Medicine To HostMiddle-School Students During 13th Annual Brain Awareness Week

March 1, 2012, Silver Spring, Md.: Approximately 650 area middle-school students will take part in the National Museum of Health and Medicine’s 13th annual Brain Awareness Week as they learn about traumatic brain injuries, brain anatomy and more. Brain Awareness Week at NMHM is produced in conjunction with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.

This year, Brain Awareness Week (BAW) activities will take place at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), located on the Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, Md., over the course of five days (March 12-16, 2012). NMHM recently relocated to the Forest Glen Annex, but is presently closed as the Museum installs new exhibits in advance of its grand opening in May.

During intense 2-hour BAW sessions, students rotate through hands-on activity stations to learn about different brain functions, influences on the brain and brain disorders. Activity stations are managed by the Museum’s Partners in Education. (BAW programs are not open to the public.)

Examples of hands-on activities include:

  • NINDS Brain Lobe-oratorium: Guided by staff from the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke, students will learn about the functions of each lobe of the brain and will have an opportunity to hold a real brain specimen.
  • Brain Pain: Communicating After Brain Injury: The Speech-Language Pathology Clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center will teach students about how traumatic brain injuries impact speech through a collaborative hands-on activity involving no verbal communication.
  • Brain Drop: The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center will educate students about prevention, symptoms and treatment of concussions and will explain their role in caring for service members experiencing these injuries. Students will be invited to participate in a hands-on demonstration, which will involve dropping an egg to the floor (one in a helmet and one not in a helmet) to help illustrate the importance of wearing a helmet.
  • Cool Cockroaches and Crickets: The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience Research will teach students about the electric signals that connect sensory organs with the brain through an electrophysiology demonstration involving cockroaches and crickets. Students can implant probes into the insects and compare signals from photoreceptors in the eyes and mechanoreceptors found in the antennae and legs. These signals are comparable to what is seen in humans when electrodes are attached to skin.

NMHM Partners in Education for the 2012 Brain Awareness Week:

  • Audiology Clinic, Army Audiology and Speech Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
  • Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
  • Howard University
  • National Institutes of Health, including:
    • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
    • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    • National Institute on Aging
    • National Eye Institute
    • National Institute of Mental Health
    • National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
    • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • National Museum of Health and Medicine
  • National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Audiology and Speech Pathology Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC)
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience Research


National Brain Awareness Week programs were first established by the Dana Alliance in 1996, linking scientists, clinicians, journalists and other educators in an annual effort to raise public awareness about the brain and brain science. In 2000, Dana joined forces with NMHM to develop a program designed especially for middle school students. Brain Awareness Week has helped instill a sense of excitement of science, while bringing awareness and understanding of current research and its translation into clinical practice to young audiences.

About the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives:

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of more than 265 leading neuroscientists, is committed to advancing public awareness about the progress and promise of brain research and to disseminating information on the brain in an understandable and accessible fashion. Supported entirely by the Dana Foundation, the Dana Alliance does not fund research or make grants.

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