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Release: March 7, 2002

Public invited to visit the Iowa Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair

Children and adults are invited to explore the inner workings of the brain at the Iowa Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair on Saturday, March 9, at the Iowa City Moose Lodge, 3151 Highway 6 East, Iowa City. The fair is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. until
4 p.m.

Students, faculty and staff from the University of Iowa Neuroscience Graduate Program, in collaboration with the National Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fairs Partnership, organized the fair, which is part of Brain Awareness Week 2002.

The fair features hands-on exhibits designed to illustrate how the brain performs its many complex cognitive tasks. Approximately 65 scientists from throughout the UI neuroscience community have created 26 demonstrations to help explain fundamental concepts about the brain, including memory, vision, hearing, touch, pain, movement, brain injury and development.

On Friday, March 8, nearly 200 area fourth- and fifth-grade students will preview the fair to evaluate the scientists and their presentations. For these students, the event will be structured like a traditional science fair, but this time the children get to judge and select the winning exhibits. The students attend three eastern Iowa schools: Jefferson-Edison Elementary School in Davenport; Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Bettendorf; and Roundy Elementary School in Columbus Junction.

The Iowa Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair is part of a nationwide project in which neuroscientists are creating innovative ways to help children learn about how the brain works. The National Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fairs Partnership provides funding for the fair through a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

Deborah Colbern, Ph.D., is director of the National Kids Judge! Partnership and President of BEEMNET (, Brain Exchange Electronic Mentorship Network, a company she founded to connect practicing neuroscientists with children to promote education about the brain and neuroscience research.

Colbern notes that the fair provides a good learning experience for both children and scientists. "The children learn about the brain, and their honest and direct evaluation of the presentations helps scientists hone their communication skills and their ability to produce exciting teaching activities," Colbern said.

For the second year in a row, the Iowa Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fair has been selected as a model demonstration site for the Brain Awareness Week Partners in Education program. This partnership, which works with universities and academic research centers throughout the world, aims to advance public understanding about the brain and brain research by linking scientists directly with students. The partnership includes national and international organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology Education and Research Foundation, the Association of University Professors of Neurology, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Society for Neuroscience.

UI colleges, departments and programs represented at the fair include: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Medicine, and the Graduate College; the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Psychiatry, and Psychology; and the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science Graduate Program, the Neuroscience Graduate Program, the Pain Research Program, the Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence, and the Mental Health Clinical Research Center.

The Iowa City Moose Lodge is donating the use of its facilities for the fair. Other local area businesses and organizations that have contributed to the event by donating goods or providing discounts on services include Chef Mickey's Catering, CK Studios, Copyworks, EMPI, Hy-Vee, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Monkey House, Office Depot, Old Capitol Screen Printers, Panera Bread Company of Iowa, Scheels All Sports, and University of Iowa Health Care.

The Brain Awareness Week Partners in Education, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and National Institutes on Drug Abuse also have provided educational materials about the brain, the promise of brain research, and how to keep your brain healthy and safe.

The Iowa Kids Judge! Fair is one of many activities planned by the UI Neuroscience Graduate Program in observation of Brain Awareness Week, March 11-17. Brain Awareness Week was created by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an international partnership of government agencies, scientific organizations, universities, and volunteer groups, which includes over 1,300 partner organizations in 50 countries.

For more information about the Iowa Kids Judge! Fair, contact Ana Hutton, graduate student in the UI Neuroscience Graduate Program and chair of Iowa Kids Judge! at or (319) 335-7733.

For more information about National Kids Judge! Neuroscience Fairs Partnership, contact Deborah Colbern at or at (319) 337-4058 (Sheraton Hotel as of March 5) or (310) 776-0877 (cell phone). Colbern's California office phone number is (310) 574-3742.

For questions about the Iowa City Moose Lodge facilities, contact Christine Garling, club manager, at (319) 356-6921.

To find out more about neuroscience at the UI, visit, and for more information about other Brain Awareness Week events around the country, visit

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