Parents are always telling kids to use their noodle, but it's hard to get a handle on the brain. They never see it and they can't really feel it. A new exhibit, which started at the Smithsonian Institute and is now at The Health Museum in Houston, gives kids a bird's eye view of their most mysterious organ.
Brain: The World Inside Your Head is a hands-on and up-close look at what makes the brain work, what it does, and what happens when it malfunctions. Visitors can follow the brain's development from infancy through old age, learn how the mind works, and study the re-created skull of Phineas Gage – a man who survived for 12 years after his brain was pierced by a metal rod.
Phineas aside, the brain is an amazing thing, sure to peak kids' interest. The exhibit has just enough kooky facts to keep them engaged. For example, did you know that the brain feels like warm oatmeal? That it never takes a rest –awake or asleep? That it makes up only 2 percent of body weight, but uses 20 percent of the body's fuel? Here are five other facts to get them curious about their gray matter:
- The brain contains as many neurons as there are stars in the Milky Way.
- Electrical messages in neurons travel about 220 miles per hour – that's about 323 feet per second!
- There are more than 600 diseases that affect the brain and central nervous system.
- Surgeons can operate on the brain while a patient is awake, because the organ has no pain sensors.
- A piece of a brain the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses, all "talking" to one another.
For families within easy driving distance, this is a great opportunity to explore the brain, no scalpel required. The exhibit travels to Arkansas, Hawaii, and Kentucky later this year. For more information, click on www.evergreenexhibits.com or www.mhms.org.