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Neuroscience Exposition Wows Zoo Atlanta Visitors

W?ow! A real human brain! Let’s go see it now,” one kid exclaimed as his family entered Zoo Atlanta’s main gates Saturday, April 14, and discovered the Brains Rule! Neuroscience Exposition had taken over.


The Expo, sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, attracted more than 3,000 visitors to Zoo Atlanta on April 13-14, making it the largest public education event of its kind in the country.
CBN Educator and Expo Director, Kyle Frantz, Ph.D., said both days of the event were busy and fulfilling for all involved.


On Friday, April 13, seventh-grade students from Renfroe Middle School, a Decatur City School, visited the Expo. Students learned about the brain and behavior through interactive booths on a range of topics from brain anatomy to learning and memory.


“Friday’s event was our biggest-ever reverse science fair day of the Expo. The volunteer corps presented 12 different mini-lessons to more than 150 students and observations suggested that these seventh graders were the most attentive, engaged and interactive yet,” Frantz said.


This year’s public event on Saturday included 35 different education stations and entertaining jugglers who wandered throughout the zoo amazing visitors with their talents. Of the stations, 19 were new, including the Panda Cognition station based on authentic research conducted at Zoo Atlanta. The station’s visitors used the same manipulandum as the pandas to respond to cognitive challenges in spatial memory tasks.


“Many people were attracted to the Panda Veranda by the new panda cub, and hundreds of children tested their own spatial cognition just like the pandas do in on-going zoo research,” Frantz said.


Another popular booth was the new “Wired to Win” station based on an IMAX film now showing at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. The film explores the role of the brain and nervous system in maintaining motivation, managing fear, inhibiting pain, and processing sensory stimuli during the Tour de France bicycle race. The station simulated a bike race, won by answering brain structure and function questions.
The Fernbank Museum donated 50 tickets for the IMAX film to the Expo prize wheel.


More than 335 visitors completed “sticker cards” after engaging in at least eight stations and earned an opportunity to spin the prize wheel.
“One parent, at the prize wheel, was surprised (and excited) when her 10-year-old son filled out his Prize Questions Survey and stated his new career goal – to become a neuroscientist,” Frantz said. “We hope he sticks with the CBN over the coming years for our middle school Brain Camps, high school Institute On Neuroscience program, and then our undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training opportunities.”
Frantz credited this year’s success to the 200 volunteers who gave their time and expertise.


“This year’s Expo also benefited from the Georgia State University internship course in which 40 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students took the entire semester to learn about science education, Zoo Atlanta, and neuroscience, in preparation for the Expo,” Frantz said.
For more information on the Center’s education programs visit the CBN website at: http://www.cbn-atl.org/education/index.shtml.

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