Steamboat Springs It only took a few minutes for Raeesa Gupte to capture the attention of the students in Gina Wither’s science class at The Lowell Whiteman School on Tuesday morning.
It was exactly what life science teacher Wither and the organizers of the Winter Conference on Brain Research School Outreach Program hoped to see.
Gupte, a graduate student at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, seemed to connect with the students from the start, and her knowledge of the brain and its functions was not lost on the students, who quickly raised their hands to ask relevant questions and were more than willing to be an active part of the classroom discussion.
“We had not been working on the subject in class, but when the conference offered to have a research scientist come in and speak, we had a crash course on the nervous system,” Wither said. “Having someone of this caliber come in and talk was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Wither said her class will study the central nervous system later this year, and that Gupte’s lesson was a great introduction to the material.
The Winter Conference of Brain Research has been taking place at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort since last Saturday and wraps up today. More than 400 scientists attended the conference.
The conference began in 1968 with 60 attendees. It has grown significantly since then, drawing neuroscientists from around the world who work in a wide variety of fields.
This year, there were more than 84 panels and workshops during the week. As part of the conference, 30 member volunteers have ventured out to local schools, including Lowell Whiteman, Steamboat Springs High School, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Heritage Christian School and Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools.
They gave presentations that went 45 minutes to an hour about their areas of research as well as science topics requested by the schools.
“This is a mission of the conference,” school visit coordinator Kyle Frantz said. “We were in more than 50 classrooms this week.”
Wither said she was glad the conference members took the time to reach out to the community and to come into the classrooms. It was something she thought made her class more enjoyable and informative for the students.
“It’s great when we get ‘real’ scientists to come into our classrooms,” Wither said. “I think the students appreciate it, and it makes what we are talking about real for them.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966