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2020 Brain Fair Activities at the Miami-Dade STEAM Expo!

The 10th annual Miami Brain Fair was held on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at the Miami-Dade College North campus, in collaboration with the Miami-Dade Regional STEAM Expo and Miami-Dade public schools.  This event had over 25,000 K-12 students, teachers and parents in attendance.

The Miami Brain Fair designed 12 exhibits. These exhibits were complementary to each other and featured hands on activities to teach children various nervous system concepts. The exhibits were designed by faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students from 4 different universities: University of Miami, St. Thomas University, Barry University and Florida International University. Each exhibit had 4-10 volunteers
teaching at the exhibit and several were independently designed and led by graduate and undergraduate students. Below are the list of exhibits and the person who designed and led the exhibit.

Exhibits
1. Visual Illusions, Melanie Plastini, University of Miami graduate students.
2. Marvelous Metals, Dr. Fernandez-Torres, St. Thomas University faculty and undergraduates
3. Growing Human Cells in the Lab, Dr. Alexis Tapanes-Castillo, St. Thomas University faculty and undergraduates
4. Spinal Cord Injury, Maria Chagoyen, University of Miami staff
5. Pin the Function on the Brain, Alexander Mihas, Florida International University medical students
6. Sheep Brain Dissections, Shwetha Mudalegundi, University of Miami undergraduates
7. Homunculus Mapper, Shwetha Mudalegundi, University of Miami undergraduates
8. Bug Eyes, Dr. Jamie Theobald, Florida International University faculty and undergraduates
9. WalkSafe, BikeSafe and Concussion Program, Kurt Kaminer, University of Miami staff
10. Build a Neuron, Dr. Stephanie Bingham, Barry University faculty and undergraduates
11. Drugs and the Brain, Iris Escobar, University of Miami graduate students
12. Seeing Action Potentials, Linda Robayo Riofrio, University of Miami graduate students and staff

Evaluation of Exhibits
We estimate that approximately 1200 children and parents visited the 12 exhibits. Surveys were provided at each exhibit and completed by 171 attendees. Survey results indicated that 85% of the respondents gave the
exhibits an overall rating of excellent.  Attendees found the exhibits to be clearly explained, interesting and understandable. Comments on the surveys particularly highlighted that the hands on activities were appreciated.

“Awesome experience. Thank you!”
“I liked how we had to do something to see how it works.”
“Very hands on and interactive. Perfect!!”
“It is an amazing idea and I will always remember what a neuron looks like!”
“All the staff is knowledgeable and explained to kids and adults in ways we can understand.”

Miami Brain Bee
The Miami Brain Bee was held in conjunction with the Brain Fair and had 57 senior high school student registrants from 16 senior high schools. This was led by Dr. Katie Gant from the University of Miami and as well as 14 other volunteers, including a past Miami Brain Bee winner.

Brain Bee Winners:
First place – Anesh Veeramachaneni, American Heritage School, junior
Second place – Kyara Ralliford, Olympic Heights Community High School, junior
Third place tie – Christopher Sandino, Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy, senior & Valentina Velasco, American Heritage School, senior

 

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