Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
We're delighted to be able to share our science with young people: it's been fantastic to see the level of interest in and excitement about the brain in the groups that we've worked with so far.Holly Bridge, neuroscientist and Big Brain Roadshow presenter

In July 2018, researchers from our Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging visited local schools to share their research into the brain with Key Stage 3 pupils.

The Big Brain Roadshow combines drama, movement and hands-on activities to give young people an introduction to the history of brain imaging from the 1800s to the present day and an outline of the ways in which current research is building our understanding of the brain.

The session is delivered by active researchers working in a variety of roles, including neuroscientists, psychologists, physicists and more.

Learning through drama

The session begins with a performance of the play 21st Century Phrenology, which takes the viewer on a time-travelling journey through the history of humanity’s attempts to understand the brain. The audience is introduced to a nineteenth-century phrenologist, a World War I soldier whose head injury helps doctors to learn more about the brain, and the hard-working scientists of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s whose discoveries fuelled the development of modern-day MRI and other brain imaging techniques. We are also given a glimpse into developments to come with a simulation of the kinds of big data analysis projects that may become possible in the future.

Hands-on activities

In the second half of the session, students break into small groups to visit a series of science-fair style stalls, where they can take part in hands-on activities grouped around the themes of 'the talking brain', 'the learning brain', 'the seeing brain', 'the active brain' and 'the evolving brain'. Involving physical challenges, puzzles, 3D-printed brain scans and even juggling, the activities allow students to explore different aspects of the brain while talking to real-life brain researchers about their work.

Teachers and students alike praised the activity: teachers at The Cooper School commented that 'today was magic', while those at St Gregory the Great Catholic School pointed out that 'having students linger for 10 minutes of their lunch' after the session had officially ended 'is testament to… a highly engaging and informative workshop'!

It is hoped that the Big Brain Roadshow will be on offer again for the 2018-19 academic year. If you would like to know more about the activity, please contact Carinne Piekema, Public Engagement Co-Ordinator at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging to enquire.

Similar stories

Newborn brain scans clarify how some diseases develop

Newborn brain scans from the Developing Human Connectome Project are now available online in large-scale open-source project, clarifying how some diseases develop.

New consortium to uncover mechanisms of neuropathic pain

Professor David Bennett is leading a new national research consortium to investigate neuropathic pain.

NDCN Thomas Willis Day Prize Winners

Our annual Thomas Willis Day celebrates the work of our Department over the previous year.

Heidi Johansen-Berg elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences

Congratulations to Heidi Johansen-Berg, one of 11 University of Oxford biomedical and health scientists that the Academy of Medical Sciences has elected to its fellowship.

Researcher publishes children's book of the brain

Betina Ip, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, has written a book for children: The Usborne Book of the Brain

The brain understands relationships in the same way as it understands how to move in space

Researchers have developed a new framework that binds together the way the brain forms maps of space to the way the brain understands relationships of any kind.