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Pharmacology staff and students contributed to a special afternoon of events last week to engage 200-300 students and families on the theme of the brain organised by their school ‘Rumble Museum’. A team of ten members of our department led by Dr Lizzie Burns developed five zones of activities to engage students with different aspects of neuroscience: memory, focus, build-a-brain, illusion and microscopy.

A group picture of the staff and students who showcased brain activities for pupils at Cheney School

Parents and pupils taking part in activities at the 2024 Brain Festival at Cheney SchoolDr Tim Viney brought a microscope with slides and specimens for visitors to look at stained neurons and draw their own. There was a constant source of interest in putting on prism glasses to see the world the right way up while attempting to walk or throw a ball. A table of laminated visual illusions brought constant interest from all ages, as well as a brain game challenging short and long-term memory. Another popular activity demonstrated how brain waves can be picked up by an EEG headset  when a person is focusing, thus controlling an air stream to lift and lower a foam ball. Interest was brought to our creative ‘build-a-brain’ table with models of different animal brains alongside 3D printed life-sized brains from a cheetah, cat and mouse produced by Dr Lora Martucci.

Brain activities at Cheney School in February 2024Visitors used postcards developed by Dr Lizzie Burns to build onto or colour-in drawings of the brain to bring home together with information on our department. Large paintings of a giant eye looking down a microscope and fluorescent cells on black material gave a theatrical edge to our ‘Amazing Brain’ activities. Drop-in activities brought constant interaction and conversation, with comments including "brilliant interactive ideas - learnt lots!" and "this makes my brain hurt".

Our thanks to everyone who took part in planning and carrying out the activities.  All contributed to make this event such a success:

Rizwana Rashid and Dr Lora MartucciDr Lizzie Burns (team leader)
Academics: Dr Tim Viney, Dr Barbara Zonta
DPhils and Postdocs: Dr Lora Martucci, Dr Yuki Sakai, Aishwarya Vedula
MSc Students : Tibyan Babiker, Xiaoyu Fan, Michal Halicki, Soraya Saghbini,
Teaching assistant: Ms Rizwana Rashid

If you are interested in taking part in future outreach events please contact Dr Lizzie Burns or Dr Barbara Zonta.

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