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Educators Network Stages Lively Event


Doris AlvarezTDLC’s Educators Network recently staged a unique event, thanks to network leader Doris Alvarez. Every year the Dana Foundation sponsors a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress in brain research. And Brain Awareness Week, March 14-20, seemed the perfect occasion for local area educators to hear more about the brain and to observe, or even participate in, science demonstrations by UC San Diego’s TDLC scientists.

The half-day meeting was jam-packed with intriguing demo’s that brought Center Director Gary Cottrell, Co-Directors Andrea Chiba and Paula Tallal plus a cadre of TDLC researchers together with the Distinguished Educator Advisory Panel. These local classroom teachers and administrators known for their excellence are members of the Center’s Educator Network. Today’s attendees represented seven San Diego area schools: UCSD’s Early Childhood Education Center, Crawford High, Darnall Charter School, La Jolla Country Day School, High Tech Middle School, High Tech Middle School North County, High Tech High and Iftin Charter High.


Gary CottrellAfter being warmly welcomed and ushered into the TDLC realm by Cottrell, Andrea Chibathe science of learning was approached from several angles in a presentation by Chiba that showed and told what is known and as yet unknown about learning and the human brain.

Alex KhalilNext, post-doc researcher and music teacher/conductor Alex Khalil introduced gamelan students Luna Smith, Mollie Appel-T and Madison Ledger, who first demonstrated on-the-beat and back-beat hand clapping, followed by audience participation with cues from the conductor.

And then the innovative Alex’s pitched percussive instruments came alive. Mallets in his and the students’ hands produced lively rhythms and after a bit of instruction, several audience members reveled in the exploration of melody and synchrony.

In the series of demo’s that followed for the educators …

They were amazed by the activities of the Motion Capture lab, presented by Post-docs Dongpyo Lee and Joe Snider.

Excited by Paula Tallal’s video on Scientific Learning Center’s successful reading intervention program Fast forWord®.

Heard much from Post-doc Victor Minces and Gary Cottrell, especially about the CERT software developed at UCSD for making facial expression more accessible as a behavioral measure.

Encountered a variety of facts and observed examples in a brain outreach display with Graduate student Lara Rangel.

In addition to learning and performing opportunities, of benefit to attendees was a free supply of several cleverly-designed interactive “Brain” booklets for students of various levels provided by The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.

In these publications (two of which are shown here) the easy definitions of neuroscience, the nervous system and neural activity draw readers into the heart of such topics as How We Learn, as in this excerpt: “Every time we learn something of consequence, we change our brains a little bit … these minute … changes .. underlie broader changes in the function … of the brain … learning and life experiences create a rich network of circuits uniquely fine-tuned to each individual … learning literally shapes and reshapes the brain over the course of a lifetime.”

by Carolan Gladden