A visit from UVic’s Let’s Talk Science outreach team was one of the big highlights of Brain Awareness Week at the Middle School. Not only was the presentation informative, it was very interactive.
Using eggs as a stand-in for the human head, science students learned about the importance of protecting the skull from injuries.
“Our brains are pretty much the consistency of Jello. Think of our Jello brains sitting inside our skulls and say you get hit in a rugby game or in a car accident or you fall off your bike and you’re not wearing a helmet, your brain is going to be pretty damaged,” Anna, from Let’s Talk Science, told students. “That’s due to a couple of reasons. One: your skull might crack and damage the underlying structure of the brain, but also if you get hit really, really hard, all the cerebral spinal fluid is going to move around with high velocity, and that can also cause damage.”
Helmets – bike helmets, football helmets, hockey helmets – all help reduce the risk of brain injuries by acting as a cushion to absorb a lot of an impact.
With some Styrofoam packing peanuts, paper, some plastic and a handful of tissues, students were challenged to build their own helmet for their egg.
Many students tried to build protective layers around their eggs to cushion the fall, while others built makeshift parachutes from garbage bags and tape. Some even built “helmets” that were disproportionately weighted so the heavy side (furthest away from the egg) would be certain to hit the ground first.
Students took turns dropping their eggs from the second floor of the Middle School onto the basketball court below.
Surprisingly, a lot of the eggs remained uncracked after their descent, thanks to the students’ creatively designed helmets. There was no clear winner, as far as which design was the most effective helmet, but all students took away a very important lesson on reducing your risk of brain injury.
“We are born with only a certain amount of cells in our brains, and once they get killed they don’t grow back. They’re not like skin or stomach cells that grow back and regenerate,” said Anna. “We want to do as little permanent damage as possible to our brains. That’s why we wear helmets.”