South Orangetown Central School District

Nathan Kline scientist works with eighth grade student using a microscope

Did you know that March 11-17 marks Brain Awareness Week? Founded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI), Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science and on Monday, scientists from the Nathan S. Kline Institute visited South Orangetown Middle School to teach eighth grade science classes all about the brain.

Located in Orangeburg, scientists at the Nathan Kline Institute study the causes, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of mental disorders. Several postdoctoral fellows from Nathan Kline who are currently studying illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease hosted several hands-on, interactive activities to give students the opportunity to learn about the functions and parts of the brain from local experts in the field. Amanda Labuza, Ph.D., who focuses on Dementia research, told students, “The brain is in charge of a lot of things! It controls thinking, behavior, movement and more. The brain is made up of neurons and glial cells and it sends and receives chemical and electrical signals throughout the body.”

Students rotated between several stations to help them further understand how the brain works including how electricity helps control body movements, comparative anatomy by observing slides of human brains and animal brains under a microscope and how our brains perceive different types of optical illusions. The station that seemed to sparked the most interest was when students had the opportunity to touch and even hold a preserved human brain that was donated for scientific research. As students observed the brain, the scientists pointed out parts of the brain including the different lobes and the cerebellum.