PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Why are children better at learning new languages than adults? How do optical illusions work? And does practice really make perfect?
Rhode Islanders can explore these questions and other wonders of the brain at the 2023 Brown Brain Fair. Held on Saturday, March 18, at Brown University, the free all-ages event will offer local residents and families the chance to learn about brain science with games, interactive demonstrations and hands-on exhibits.
Led by University students, including the Brown Brain Bee student group, in partnership with Brown's Carney Institute for Brain Science, the Brown Brain Fair will bring scientists and volunteers from more than 20 Brown science labs and centers together with local health care and community organizations for a full day of brain science fun.
Student organizers, including Hannah Doyle, a doctoral student in neuroscience at Brown, designed the event to ensure attendees learn about the human brain's inner workings and the wealth of neuroscience discoveries led by major research, health care and educational institutions in the state.
"We hope that people leave the Brown Brain Fair having learned a little bit about the brain but also the breadth of neuroscience research that's happening here in Rhode Island," Doyle said.
Visitors can measure their brain's electrical activity, control a state-of-the-art robotic arm, examine mini-brains under a microscope, solve interactive puzzles, test their memory, and dress up like a scientist, among other family-friendly stations and activities. Brown faculty and student researchers will also give five-minute mini-lectures, or "Lightning Talks," on brain health, mental illness, artificial intelligence and the science of senses.
An important goal for the Brown Brain Fair is to make the interactive stations fun for local K-12 students. Trying on virtual reality goggles or handling a preserved human brain is one way to make brain science exciting and accessible, said co-organizer Gabriela Molica, a second-year neuroscience graduate student at Brown. She and the other organizers hope to inspire future brain scientists.
"When I was a high school student, I was fascinated by the brain, but the only way I felt that I could learn more about it was to study it in college," Molica said. "The Brown Brain Fair makes brain science engaging, interactive and accessible, which is important, especially for local students interested in science."
The Brown Brain Fair will serve as the culminating event of Brain Week Rhode Island. Led by the Providence-based national research advocacy organization Cure Alliance for Mental Illness, Brain Week features a series of school visits, fairs, presentations, performances and events held each March to make brain science fun, educational and accessible for Rhode Islanders. This year, the cerebral celebrations will occur from Saturday, March 11, through Sunday, March 19.
The Brown Brain Fair will be held on Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Brown’s Engineering Research Center at 345 Brook Street in Providence. The event is free and open to the public.