Written by: Hayley Tomes
Fifty-six grade 7 pupils from Mfuleni got to share in the magic that is the Neuroscience Institute (NI) during Brain Awareness week, indulging in a jam-packed line-up of talks, demonstrations and activities on the 16th of March 2022.
They gasped in awe as they saw actual neurons down a microscope during Dr Rachael Dangarembizi’s talk about what makes up a brain and what it does. They marveled at the actual specimens shown to them by neurosurgeon Dr Nqobile Thango.
They squealed in delight as Dr Joseph Raimondo made a dismembered cockroach leg hooked up to stimulator connected to the musical genius of ‘I like to move it move it’ actually move it. From this they learned about the electrical nature of the nervous system and how it can be stimulated and simulated.
They listened with rapt attention to Dr Adhil Bhagwandin discuss sleep and compare sleep patterns across many different animal species. There were many other fascinating topics covered throughout the day including neurodevelopment (Dr Dorit Hockman), how brains are injured (Dr Ursula Rohlwink), mental health (Dr Nynke Groenewald) and drugs and the brain (Dr Freda Scheffler).
They also got to model elements of the brain using brightly coloured clay blocks to great artistic success. The day was punctuated by delicious eats from the Magnificent Barista Boys, who are rightly a feature at the NI. The event was funded by the Francis Crick Institute in the United Kingdom, through a Crick African Network Career Accelerator Grant awarded to Dr Rohlwink, who was the main organiser of the event.
The whole day summated to leave the learners with 3 lessons; to consider a career path in neuroscience, to remember how they can protect their brains and to understand that the brain really is the most important organ in the body!
To read more about the day go to the wonderful UCT press article, written by Helen Swingler, here: https://www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2022-03-22-date-with-a-dancing-cockroach