Education students Aleah Spencer, right, and Ashley Beutler, left, talk about the effects of stress on the brain. Paula Rogel/UVU Review

The School of Education held its second annual Brain Awareness Fair on March 4 in the McKay Education building to creatively increase understanding of the human brain, its abilities and cognitive functions.

This year the focus of the fair was based on John Medina’s book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.

Pre-service Elementary and Secondary Education students were each assigned to present one of the principles in a creative way to appeal to different types of learners and make it relevant to each one.

According to fair organizer and Assistant Professor in the Secondary Education department Dr. Suzy Cox, she wanted to give the students an opportunity to engage more deeply with the course content and think about how they could teach it to someone else and use it in their future teaching careers.

“Just reading a book doesn’t give students that personal insight,” Cox said.

Medina presents the science behind ideas about how the brain works and then offers ways to apply the principles effectively in everyday life. The 12 principles are exercise, survival, wiring, attention, long- and short-term memory, sleep, stress, sense, vision, gender and exploration.

“We decided to use Medina’s book to help focus students’ projects on things that are supported by research … in real neurological studies,” Cox said.

Three rules highly emphasized at the fair were exercise, sleep and stress, probably due to the impact those have on college students.

All of the displays were interactive. Those attending the fair were engaged in many activities including exercise, taste testing, smelling, feeling and relaxing.

Because of the stress they personally experience with school, work and family life, students Aleah Spencer and Ashley Beutler wanted to learn more about it. They found bodies are made to handle short bursts of stress, but long-term exposure to stress has serious consequences for brain cells.

When asked if she enjoyed the assignment, Beutler said, “The instructors opened it up and asked us to be creative in the projects, which made it much more fun than just reading about it in the book.”

Organizers scheduled the fair to support Brain Awareness Week, which is held around the world every March. BAW, organized by The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, is a global campaign to educate the public about the progress and benefits of brain research.