Learning About The Amazing Brain

Field trip tour of the neuroscience building at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences impresses local grade school students

Jude is 11 years old and a fifth-grade student at The Mandelstam School in South Miami. He says he wants to be a singer when he grows up, but admits visiting the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Neuroscience building was “really cool.”

“I don’t know a lot about the brain,” said Jude before heading into Dr. Elizabeth Losin’s Social & Cultural Neuroscience Lab. “But I have always wondered about the cerebellum and what it does in the brain.”

Last week, about 26 third, fourth, and fifth graders from Mandelstam toured the facility learning about the how the brain is analyzed in the fMRI scanner and how attention and cognitive function of the brain is studied in the Jha Lab.

“We especially enjoyed the excitement level of the 8 to 10-year-olds we had in the lab on Wednesday,” said Dr. Losin, assistant professor of psychology at the UM College of Arts & Sciences. “Kids are so enthusiastic and open to receiving new information at that age, and almost every child raised his or her hand when I asked them who wanted to be a scientist.”

“The kids were very excited!” says Tiffany Pfeiffer, principal of The Mandelstam. “In class they learn about different aspects of science and knew they would see firsthand how brain research is done here at the University of Miami.”

The second group of students who visited last Friday arrived from Gulliver Academy Middle School. The group of 20 students, all girls in both seventh and eighth grade, is part of Gulliver’s unique program for only girls who are interested in science and engineering. The program, now in its fifth year, was created by Yolanda Valencia, chair of Gulliver’s Science and Engineering Department.

“Middle school girls who like science, math or engineering need to know that, if they want to follow this field, they can be successful,” said Valencia. “The added plus are the female researchers here at the University of Miami. It gives the girls motivation to follow their dreams.”

March 02, 2016