Montana K-12 Students to Engage with UM Researchers During Brain Awareness Week

March 10, 2016

MISSOULA – University of Montana faculty members and graduate students from an array of academic disciplines will share their research on the most complex organ in the human body during Brain Awareness Week, March 15-17 and March 23-24. The distance-learning festival, which is organized by UM’s We Are Montana in the Classroom, will connect over 750 K-12 learners with UM researchers, who will lead hands-on and minds-on activities in the study of the brain.

The interactive distance-learning sessions include:

  • “Brains and Robots” with Rachel Severson, UM assistant professor of development psychology, who will share with students the robot that she uses to study how children think about technology as having thoughts, emotions and the capacity for friendship. This session is for elementary students.
    • 1-1:50 p.m. Wednesday, March 16
    • 2-2:50 p.m. Wednesday, March 16
    • 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, March 23
  • “Sounds, Science and Brains” with Catherine Off, assistant professor in UM’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and director of UM’s Big Sky Aphasia Program, who will engage students in understanding how our brains use language and sound to create meaning. This session is for middle school students.
    • 9-9:50 a.m. Tuesday, March 15
    • 10-10:50 a.m. Tuesday, March 15
    • 1-2 p.m. Thursday, March 24
  • “Football and Brains: the Science of Concussions” with Sarj Patel, assistant research professor in UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, who will share his National Football League and General Electric-funded research on the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury. This session is for high school students.
    • 9:15-10:05 a.m. Thursday, March 17
    • 10:15-11:05 a.m. Thursday, March 17
    • 10:15-11:05 a.m. Thursday, March 24
  • “Dinosaur Brains” with UM Paleontology Center Curator Kallie Moore, who will share dinosaur artifacts from UM’s collections and discuss with students how the T-Rex brain is helping scientists in their research today. This session is for high school students.
    • 9:15-10:05 a.m. Wednesday, March 16
    • 10:15-11:05 a.m. Wednesday, March 16
    • 10:15-11:05 a.m. Wednesday, March 23

Registration for Brain Awareness Week is free. Teachers can sign their classes up for the distance-learning sessions by visiting http://www.inspiredclassroom.com/classes-and-events-1/2016/3/14/big-sky-brain-week .

Throughout the distance-learning festival, all participating classes also will receive video links to daily brain games led by Amanda Duley, BrainLab manager at UM’s spectrUM Discovery Area.

K-12 students and their families in the Missoula area also can meet UM brain researchers in person for guided activities and demonstrations at the UM spectrUM Discovery Area. Admission to spectrUM will be free during the following hours:

  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16: Rachel Severson, UM Department of Psychology.
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17: Kallie Moore, UM Paleontology Center, and Mike Kavanaugh, Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience.
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, March 18: Maggie Colstad, UM Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, and Jenny Lind, Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience.

We Are Montana in the Classroom partners with more than 100 UM faculty members, professionals and graduate students to inspire K-12 students about higher education and career pathways. This academic year, the program is on track to reach 10,000 students through statewide tours, local classroom visits and distance-learning experiences. We Are Montana in the Classroom belongs to the UM Broader Impacts Group in the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship.

Brain Awareness Week is supported by the UM Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience and the Big Sky Brain Project and is produced in partnership with Inspired Classroom, a Missoula-based educational technology company.

To book a classroom visit from a UM role model or to learn more about We Are Montana in the Classroom’s free programming, call Nathalie Wolfram at 406-243-4828 or email nathalie.wolfram@umontana.edu.

The public can visit spectrUM at 218 E. Front St. in Missoula from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person but will be free during select Brain Awareness Week hours listed above.

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Contact: Nathalie Wolfram, program manager, We Are Montana in the Classroom, 406-243-4828, nathalie.wolfram@umontana.edu.