On November 17, 2012, the Human Clinical Phenotyping Core (HCP) of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilites Research Center (IDDRC) at Einstein welcomed dozens of children, aged 3 to 16, and their families to its second "B.R.A.IN Kids!" event. True to its name, the event succeeded in Brightening Research Awareness IN Kids by allowing them to explore the different ways that humans and animals use their five senses. While CERC staff is hopeful that the children participating in B.R.A.IN Kids! will want to return to Einstein in the future to take part in research, the only research going on at the event was performed by the kids.
"B.R.A.IN Kids! is a fabulous way for us to establish strong relationships with families from our local Bronx community while promoting education on the importance of research," explained Christine Alaimo, program coordinator for the HCP, which teamed with staff from the Sheryl and Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab (CNL) in organizing the event. The CNL is part of Einstein’s Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), which works closely with the IDDRC on research efforts involving developmental disabilities.
Thanks to the Greenburgh Nature Center, Chi Chi the chinchilla, Shadow the 20-foot albino ball python and Robert the 75-year-old box turtle were all in attendance in the animal room, where children were invited to touch these visitors and think about how their brains process the world they live in.
In addition to animals, various rooms were dedicated to computers, crafts, cupcakes and each of the five senses. There were themed demonstrations, projects, activities and games that focused on vision, touch, taste, smell and hearing, with prizes for the children to take away from each experience.
For example, in the smell and taste room, kids played several games, including"guess the taste" – with and without their noses plugged – and they received wax lips and nose-shaped pencil sharpeners for prizes. Meanwhile, in the vision room, kids received eye-ball ring pops for completing the vision-related activities. At the end of the day, each child went home with a goody-bag and a certificate of their accomplishments.
Groups were small enough to allow each child to have an immersive, hands-on experience that included individual attention from the CERC staff as well.
"Children and their families kept asking when they could come back again," said Ms. Alaimo."They had a great time, and so did we."
The Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center was established at Einstein in 1978 and is committed to providing quality resources for individuals with developmental disabilities. The IDDRC and its programs represent the hub of Einstein’s research labs focused on intellectual and developmental disabilities. Staff at the two centers aim to increase the frequency of and outreach for special events, with another B.R.A.IN Kids! planned for March 2013.
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