BAKERSVILLE – Fourth-year Ph.D. student Brenna Beckelman from Wake Forest University this past week brought some added brainpower to Veronica Pitman’s eighth-grade science class at Bowman Middle School.
Beckelman is a neuroscientist who mainly does research on Alzheimer’s Disease and how it affects the brain. She was at Bowman as part of the NC Science Festival Program called Novozymes SciMatch where middle schools are matched with STEM professionals to facilitate classroom visits.
Beckelman used a PowerPoint presentation to dispel myths, such as a person uses 10 percent only of his or her brain.
“Totally not true,” Beckelman told the class. “We use 100 percent of our brains 100 percent of the time.”
It is true, however, that people are awake during brain surgery.
“The skull and brain can’t feel pain; they have no pain receptors,” she told the class. “A local anesthetic is used to numb the scalp but usually people are awake the entire time.”
Beckelman then told the class about the body’s central nervous system and the main divisions of the brain – the cerebrum, brain stem and cerebellum – and their specific functions.
“The brain is wrinkled so it will fit inside your head,” Beckelman said. “If you were to unfold it, it would be as big as this table.”
Students were allowed to hold and examine real human and animal brains before discussing diseases that affect brains.