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Brain Awareness Day May 1 at Orpheum Children's Science Museum

Molly McElroy, News Bureau


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Scientists from the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host their fifth annual Brain Awareness Day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., May 1 (Sunday), at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign.

Admission to the museum, 346 N. Neil St., will be free all day.

The afternoon will be filled with hands-on experiments geared mainly toward children of grade-school age, with some exhibits also appealing to middle- and high-school students.

Favorite exhibits from past years will be present, including those that allow museum-goers to explore sensory systems of electric fish, handle real brains from various animals and challenge their own senses of vision and taste.

An art contest, another favorite from previous years, also will be held. Artwork, based on the theme “Brain Storms,” by kindergarten through eighth-grade students will be featured. Entries, due April 27, will be judged and prizes will be awarded on Brain Awareness Day.

“The art contest gets kids thinking about the brain, and thinking about how brain science can be fun, cool and artistic, not just scientific,” said Donna Korol, a professor of psychology and faculty member in the Neuroscience Program. The contest also encourages kids to come to the museum to see their work on display, she said.

There also will be numerous new exhibits, including those that focus on drugs of abuse, brain diseases and neurological testing. Another new exhibit will highlight the work of the famous Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934), whose birthday coincides with this year’s event.

The exhibit will show how Cajal’s intricate drawings of the nervous system led to the conclusion that the nervous system is made up of individual cells separated by tiny spaces. Cajal shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1906 with Camillo Golgi of Italy for this work.

Participants will have many opportunities for giveaways of brain-related items, as well as coupons for science books from Pages for All Ages, a bookstore in Savoy.

Brain Awareness Day is part of the nationally sponsored Brain Awareness Week organized by the Society for Neuroscience. For more information on the art contest, contact Sam Beshers 333-4971 or