By Gabrielle Parisi
This article was originally published in Issue 11, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 24, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (LVSfN) hosted their annual Brain Awareness Week from March 14-20. This year, the theme was poverty and inequality. Students from various colleges in the Lehigh Valley did their part in hosting events that helped to educate the community on the theme.
On Monday, March 14, the DeSales Psychology Club hosted the first event, a feature presentation of the Oscar-winning film The Fisher King. In this movie, Jeff Bridges plays a radio DJ who makes a tragic mistake and becomes unemployed. He falls into a slump and contemplates suicide until he has an unexpected run-in with a deranged homeless man named Parry, played by Robin Williams. The movie follows their unlikely friendship and their road to recovery.
“I had watched a preview and didn’t think the movie would be that great, but Robin Williams warmed my heart and I really enjoyed it,” said Psych Club member Morgan DeAntonio.
Even with a few technological snafus in the beginning, the event was a great success. Over 50 students from the other Lehigh Valley colleges came out to the movie viewing.
The Psych Club also took part in the biggest event of the week, Brain Party. Brain Party is one of the final events of Brain Awareness Week where kids can come with their families and learn about neuroscience and psychology through interactive games and activities.
For the third year in a row, Psych Club volunteered to create and run games for the kids. They used Stroop test boards and mirror tracing to show kids how their eyes and their brain work together to help them accomplish everyday tasks.
Brain Party had always been held at the Bethlehem Public Library, but this year, the location was changed to the Da Vinci Science Center (DSC) in Allentown. Dr. Cecilia Fox, the president of the LVSfN, said she thought this location change would appeal to more children because “they are already ‘drinking the kool-aid,’” meaning the kids who go to the DSC are already eager to learn about science, so Brain Party would be right up their alley.
Since it does cost money to visit the center, the DSC said, “Along with presenting the party activities, the society has contributed 250 admission tickets to students from William Penn Elementary School in Bethlehem and their families.” Fox and her students at Moravian Collegearehopingtoraisemore money for next year so even more kids can participate in the fun and games.
Other events that took place during Brain Awareness Week were a showing of the movie Elysium at Cedar Crest College, brain-related games at Moravian and a seminar on the relationship between race and the perception of time given by Dr. Cynthia Gooch of Temple University and Dr. Gordon Moskowitz of Lehigh University.
Upcoming events that are being held later in April as an extension of Brain Awareness Week include a seminar on socioeconomic status and structural brain development given by Dr. Emily C. Merz of Columbia University and a Cops-N-Kids celebration of the arts and science. Both events will take place on Saturday, April 23. The seminar will be at 9 a.m., and the Cops-N-Kids celebration will be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.