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Every year, Dr. Heather Bimonte-Nelson and her team of doctoral and undergraduate students from her Neuroscience of Memory and Aging lab organize their award-winning Brain Fairs for Children. These events are not only fun for kids but help increase public awareness about the brain and introduce kids to neuroscience and the field of psychology as a STEM (science-techonology-engineering-math) discipline. Many of Dr. Bimonte-Nelson's doctoral graduates have gone on to set up Brain Fairs at their new career positions throughout the country and these efforts are making a significant impact on children wanting to become our nation's future scientists.
Associated with the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Awareness Week is another outreach program organized by Dr. Bimonte-Nelson and her team with events typically conducted in March. However, her team does visits throughout the year. Since 2005 they have extended Brain Awareness Week to "Brain Awareness All Year!" They have visited individual classrooms, have done multiple grade assemblies, and have brought children to ASU for "Brain Fairs." As of 2015, they have visited over 300 classrooms (approximating 7000 children) and have had over 2000 more children come to ASU. Many of the children they reach are from Title I schools.
Says Dr. Bimonte-Nelson, "What a joy it is to hear elementary school children discussing college, science, and parts of the brain and the neuron (“the fancy word for a brain cell”). During these events we turn students into a "neuron network" and they get activated with Hershey's kiss "neurotransmitters," we hand out fun fact sheets about different majors you can have at ASU, and we discuss what it is like to be a scientist and professor. We have received funding from the Society for Neuroscience, other granting agencies, and school districts to help support the events. Our goal for these events is to teach the wonders of brain science, and to underscore the importance of college and education.
We try to teach the children that hard work is worth it... we tell them to get those great grades, and come join us at ASU for college to learn about the world of adventure that awaits you! Education and knowledge is power. Education makes you powerful and strong, it provides you a voice, and it gives you CHOICES for your future. YOU have the power to decide your future."
The ASU Brain Fair for Children is a team event that could not be done without the many students and faculty in the Psychology Department who dedicate themselves to this endeavor. For Dr. Bimonte-Nelson, "it is one of the most rewarding things I've done in my career." Read More.