Teaching Children about the Brain

Stacey BedwellDr Stacey A Bedwell is a postdoctoral researcher at Nottingham Trent University, whose work focuses on the prefrontal cortex of the mammalian brain. Dr Bedwell has previously written a guest post about the importance of animals in neuroscience for us.

Stacey recent published a children’s book, How does my brain work, which takes readers through a little girl’s journey through the different areas of the brain, and how they work.  We asked her some questions.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I wanted to create something to engage young children in neuroscience, specifically I wanted to create a publication that could make a complex area of study accessible to young minds. I decided upon the format of a picture book to do this so that the book could have an engaging and easy to follow narrative. I created characters within the book in order to convey the content in a fun and exciting way.

How do you think animal research should be discussed with children?

Research using animals should be openly discussed with children. I think a lot of children grow up unaware of the contribution that scientific research using animals has made to advances in medicine and other areas of biology. I think it is important to acknowledge in textbooks, other non-fiction books, TV shows and in classrooms the significance of animals in certain aspects of research. This applies both to current research and to past discoveries.

Page from 'How Does My Brain Work?'
Page from ‘How Does My Brain Work?’

What tips do you have when discussing animal research with younger audiences?

I think it is necessary to educate children about the uses of animals in research from multiple perspectives. In my opinion the best approach is to give children all of the facts, about why animal research takes place, what animals are used for and how, as well as what the alternative methodologies are.

How else do you think scientists should engage younger audiences?

It is important to make all areas of science accessible to children, to inspire the next generation of researchers and clinicians. In order to engage young audiences it is essential for scientists to communicate their ideas and knowledge outside of academic journals.

Dr. Stacey A. Bedwell, author of ‘How does my brain work?