Fact 1: The human brain contains 100 billion neurons with at least 100 trillion connections in all. (I question the number – or lack – of neurons firing in my brain since I became a parent.) Fact 2: brain function peaks in your 20s, then the number of neural connections gradually declines, and over time your memory may become a bit less reliable. (Then add sleep deprivation.)
So what is going on in there? The Ontario Science Centre’s temporary exhibition Brain: The Inside Story (on until March 29, 2015) has some answers. It’s fascinating and filled with more than enough info to engage the average adult for hours. With kids in TOw? Well, although this is not a child-focused exhibition, there are some super facts that will blow their brains. Here are some not-to-miss spots that will have you talking neuroscience with the kids.
Brain: The Inside Story by the senses:
Sight: Wired. The entrance – a tunnel of tangled wires, circuits and lights – will definitely grab their attention. And from start to finish, there are tons of sights to activate this major organ. After all this brain exercise, chill out in the “Brain Lounge” and watch scans of a pro basketball player’s brain as he reacts to the game and audience.
Taste: Meet the homunculus – a six-foot-tall sculpture of a human figure proportioned to show how much brain is devoted to signals from different parts of the body – the mouth and hands are extremely large. Photo Op with kids here.
Smell: Bacon. Okay, this is a stretch, you can’t actually smell it. But the exhibition demonstrates how the brain integrates various senses, and for example, how visual cues can trick your glob of grey matter. Head to the picture of the umbrella. See if the kids can guess what they are hearing.
Hearing: Hola! Sit down in front of the video and mics and have the kids repeat words in different languages. This is fun for adults too and drives home the message that exposure to languages early in life helps develop expert intonation.
Touch: Hands-on activities keep kids happy. And there are tons of brain-teasers for young and old, plus computer games targeted at specific brain functions. Our fave – after checking out the similarities and differences between the brains of humans and other mammals, the kids (or you) can try building a brain.
Low down: Located on Level 6. Free with general admission. All you need to know about the Ontario Science Centre.
Mark your calendars:
This weekend, with the help of their knowledge partner, the Ontario Brain Institute, the Science Centre presents BRAINFest, a series of interactive activities and brain exercises for the whole family. Plus experts share information on brain disorders.
Brainiacs Day Camp on January 23, 2015 for kids 5- 12.
Wild Wild World on January 17 and February 28 is a special live-animal presentation, where animal behaviour experts discuss research on animal communication.