Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.
Here is what you will find in this issue:
1. What's new on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Pages
2. The Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Web Page News
4. Internet Neuroscience Treasure Hunt Explosion
5. Grant This, Grant That
6. Subscription Information - Summer is Approaching
7. What's coming up in future issues
8. How to stop your subscription
A. Neuroscience Coloring Book
B. May Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
C. Many New Golden Neuron Award Winners
D. The Brain and Laughter
E. The Musical Brain
F. Top Ten Lists about the Brain (contributed by Dr. Tom Yin at the
University of Wisconsin)
G. Inhalants - Effects on the Brain
H. NeuroMatch Vocabulary Game
I. New Internet Neuroscience Treasure Hunt
In May, 96 new figures were added and 97 pages were modified.
The resource is divided into several subsections including member information, neurology news, neurological disorders and education. The neurological disorders and education sections contain material likely to be of most interest to students and teachers. There are "facts sheets" and patient information guides that describe neurological disorders in easy-to-understand language. This web page is a great place to start research on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and stroke.
Be sure not to miss the section on the AAN Student Prize. This prize, which is given out once per year, goes to a high school student (grade 9 through 12) with the most interesting laboratory neuroscience-related project. Each winner receives $1,000 and an all expense-paid trip to the AAN Annual meeting. The student's teacher also gets a free trip to the meeting. The annual AAN meeting was held in Minneapolis, MN this past April. The next meeting will be held in Toronto, Canada in the Spring of 1999. Perhaps you or someone you know would like to enter next year's competition.
You may have noticed that there are many places throughout the Neuroscience for Kids pages for you to fill out a survey. This survey allows you to voice your opinion about these web pages and to tell me what you like and disliked about the site. Since the survey began, about 2,000 people have returned a completed survey to me. I take all of the survey replies seriously and treat the answers in these surveys like data. I tabulate results, plot graphs and calculate statistics to see what people think of the web pages and to determine how people are using the web site. I divide the survey results into several groups: students, teachers, parents and scientists. I also divide the students and teachers into elementary, middle, high school and college groups. It is very interesting to see how the different groups of people use the web pages and to find out what they think are the strengths and weaknesses of the resource. I will report the results of these surveys in a future newsletter.
If you haven't yet taken they survey and would like to participate, go to:
The sudden increase in the number of award winners was due to the participation of several eighth grade science classes from the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The teachers of these classes made the treasure hunt part of an extra credit assignment. Over 90 students found web pages that answer the ten treasure hunt questions. Some students needed several tries to get correct answers to all of the questions. The names of those students who were successful in hunting down correct answers have been added to the Golden Neuron Award page. All of the students at the Punahou School who tried the Internet Neuroscience Treasure Hunt should be congratulated!
The first treasure hunt is over now and a new hunt has started. Check the treasure hunt page for a set of ten new questions. This time only the first 25 people with ten correct answers will be included on the award page. Perhaps you would like to play and become a GOLDEN NEURON AWARD winner yourself!
Old Internet Neuroscience Treasure Hunt Page at:
Golden Neuron Award Page at:
New Internet Neuroscience Treasure Hunt
5. GRANT THIS, GRANT THAT
My daughter wrote her first grant application last year. No, she isn't
the director of a non-profit organization. She isn't a struggling artist
appealing for money from the National Endowment for the Arts. She isn't a
teacher requesting some money for supplies. My daughter, Kelly, is now
seven years old.
Kelly heard me talking to my wife about grant writing. You see, I am a research scientist in a non-tenure track position working at a university medical school. Because I am in a non-tenure track job, I must depend on grant support, usually from the federal government, for financial support. If I fail to write a successful grant, I lose my funding and my job. There is nothing secret about this. I knew when I accepted this job that my salary would be dependent on grant support. Counting on grant support does not do much for job security; however, there are some advantages. For example, I am free to pursue a line of research that interests me and I do not have any teaching responsibilities.
Kelly heard me talk about my latest grant proposal and had some questions for me about grants. She seemed to have many of the same questions that I have about writing grants.
"What's a grant, Dad?", she asked. I replied that a grant is a letter that asks someone for some money to do a project. "Could I get a grant, Dad?" was her next question. "Well," I said, "you could write a letter to me that explains why you need some money. If I think what you want to do with the money is a good idea, then I will give you some grant money. Just make sure that you don't want more than $1.00."
After hearing this, she ran off to her room to work on her grant application. Her questions about grant writing mirror some of my own. What is a "good" grant application? What federal or private agency is most appropriate for my grant application? How do I justify the budget that I propose? What data do I need to collect before I submit my grant?
A few minutes later, Kelly came out of her "office". She had completed her first grant application. She wanted $1.00 to buy a toy (a "Polly Pocket") and some candy and gum for herself and her younger brother.
Unfortunately, the toy that Kelly wanted was $5.00 so I sadly informed her that she was "overbudget". I explained that there wasn't enough money to buy the toy. Everything that she wanted to buy cost more than $1.00. "That's OK," she replied, "I'll just write another grant. Do you know any other places that give out grants?" I thought for a minute and then said, "Maybe Grandma and Papa will fund your next grant." She quickly ran back to her room.
Unlike most first time grant writers, Kelly was funded on her first try. According to National Institute of Health statistics, only 2 of every 10 first time grants that are submitted are actually funded. The overall funding rate is not much better - only 3 of every 10 grants are funded. Nevertheless, while it takes me a bit longer and a few more pages to complete a grant application, Kelly thought of many of the same issues I think about when I write a grant. What do I want to do? How much is it going to cost? If the granting agency decides to reduce my budget, will I still be able to do the work? Are there other sources of funding that will support my work?
So, I became a funding source, gave Kelly an award notice and paid her $1.00. This got her thinking, "Once a grant is funded, do you have to do what you said you were going to do?". I replied carefully, "You are supposed to do the work you said you were going to do, but if you find out something better to do with the money and if is like the work you said you were going to do, then I suppose you could do something a little bit different."
It is sometimes the case that after a project is started, an investigator will perform an experiment that yields unexpected results that may lead down a different research path. Should this new line of inquiry be pursued with grant money that has been earmarked for a different purpose? When a grant is awarded, the funds have been set aside for a specific project. However, would the granting agency be upset if a researcher veered slightly off course to pursue a slightly different research question? Maybe, maybe not. Some of the most important scientific discoveries are made by taking chances.
Kelly is now two for two...her second grant application was funded for $5.00 by her Grandma and Papa. However, they required that she submit receipts for all items purchased with the awarded funds. Sounds a lot like my budget people.
Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.
Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.
"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.