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THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN
Outreach Center
Intro to Series Outreach Materials Publicity Materials Episode Promos
Action Ideas

The following is a selected list of ideas for activities and events that you can implement in your community prior to the premiere of the series and as follow-up activities after it airs. Activities have been designed to reach target audiences and meet the overall goals of the campaignóto increase viewership; encourage science-related activities through informal educational programs; inspire interest in careers in neuroscience and related fields; and relate science and brain research to everyday life and public policies.

These ideas are not mandates or prescriptions. They are meant to inspire creative thought about what can be done in your community. Log onto www.pbs.org/brain starting in September 2001 for more detailed activity plans based on streaming video from the series along with project updates, and turn-key tools for producing outreach, such as press releases, flyers, newsletter articles, and downloadable logo art.

How you shape your local outreach will, of course, depend on your community's priorities and resources, needs, size, and demographics. Think creatively about how to bring different types of groups together in the outreach events. Also consider partnering with other agencies engaged in these issues, particularly local affiliates of the Outreach Partners or organizations with which you have collaborated in the past or are currently working.

First, identify key organizations or individuals that are already involved in the field of neuroscience or subtopics in the series. For example, is there a university or medical school in your area? A senior center? Library? Afterschool youth program? Think about how you can connect this outreach with other projects that your station or organization may be involved with already, such as Ready To Learn or adult education. Identify organizations that work with the target audiences and groups concerned with the disorders covered in the series.

Suggestions for potential partners to consider:

  • local affiliates/chapters of national health-related organizations
  • professional associations and institutions engaged in neuroscience and related disorders
  • local chapters of disease-specific support groups
  • alcohol and drug addiction treatment groups
  • mental health agencies and support groups
  • educational institutions
  • afterschool and other informal learning programs
  • parent groups
  • family-service organizations
  • caregiver support groups
  • senior centers
  • veterans' organizations
  • public libraries
  • community centers
  • civic organizations
  • community leaders
  • human resources departments of local businesses
Be sure to develop a promotion plan to attract publicity and attendance for your outreach activities. The affiliates of the Outreach Partners may be able to help with listserves, newsletters, mailing lists, and web postings. Utilize materials provided by Thirteen, such as the easily adaptable templates for flyers, press releases, announcements, etc.

PARENTS' SCREENING/DISCUSSION ON LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Goals
  • Inform parents about brain and language development from the toddler years through puberty.
  • Raise awareness of parents on milestones in language development.
  • Provide information on assessment and resources if problems in language development are suspected.
Format
  • Screen excerpts from Program 2, The Child's Brain: Syllable from Sound.
  • Invite professionals involved in neuroscience, language development, and learning disabilities to discuss the implications of neuroscience research for language development.
  • Allow time for participants to ask questions of the experts.
Participants
  • Parents, guardians, caretakers, and teachers of children, from early childhood through puberty
Potential Partners
  • Ready To Learn programs
  • Child care centers
  • Afterschool programs
  • Pre-schools
  • Elementary and middle schools
Venues
  • Child care centers
  • Afterschool programs
  • Pre-schools, elementary, and middle schools
  • Community centers
Additional Outreach Activities
  • Develop a handout highlighting language development milestones and possible indications of delays or learning disabilities.
  • Research assessment and treatment options in the community and educational system. Does socioeconomic status have an effect on diagnosis and treatment? Why?
  • Form ongoing groups to continue learning about language development and methods for dealing with language development delays and learning disabilities.
CAREER FAIR

Goals
  • Provide youth with information regarding careers in neuroscience and related fields, such as researcher, scientist, physician, nurse, imaging technician, rehabilitation therapist, science teacher, etc.
  • Inform teens of the requirements for entering these fields.
  • Inspire young people to enter neuroscience through role models for careers in science and related technologies.
  • Inform youth of the contributions made to community well-being by those in science and related careers.
Format
  • Prepare the class or group for this activity by having each teen select a career and research educational, training, and licensing requirements, as well as internship opportunities. What do people in each career do? What is the range of opportunities in each field? How does the field affect people's everyday lives? What information and help can professional organizations provide?
  • Invite professionals from a range of neuroscience- related careers to speak with teens.
  • The professionals can speak of their own personal experiences. What drew them to their chosen careers? What were the obstacles? What have been the satisfactions? What are the realistic requirements for entering the field? How have their career endeavors made a difference?
  • Demonstrate how teens and group facilitators can use The Brain: A User's Guide for adolescents and series web site, launching in December 2001 at www.pbs.org/brain, to explore this topic further.
Participants
  • Teens, 14-17 years old
  • Potential Partners
  • Association for Women in Science
  • Association for the Education of Teachers in Science
  • Association of Science-Technology Centers
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Indians into Medicine
  • National Council of La Raza
  • American School Counselor Association
  • American Counseling Association
  • National Career Development Association (NCDA)
Venues
  • Informal educational programs
  • Middle and high schools
Additional Outreach Activities
  • Recruit professionals to act as mentors to teens over a longer-term basis.
  • Start ěA Day in the LifeÖî job shadowing program in which teens can accompany a professional through an ordinary day on the job.
  • Explore part-time job or internship opportunities in neuroscience and related fields.
SCREENING AND PANEL DISCUSSION

Goals
  • Raise awareness of the effects of aging on brain function.
  • Inform participants about strategies for preserving mental functioning.
  • Provide updates of new discoveries in the field of neuroscience as it relates to the aging brain, such as clinical research, Alzheimer's, stroke rehabilitation.
  • Spotlight local agencies that offer services for aging and/or disabled populations.
Format
  • Screen excerpts from Program 5, The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives.
  • Invite professionals and experts on neuroscience to speak about new advances in neuroscience and our understanding of the aging brain. Invite local health care or social service agencies to describe resources for Alzheimer's care, stroke rehabilitation, etc.
  • Invite participants to ask questions of the panelists and allow plenty of time for interaction.
  • Make available information on the different topics and services from the speakers and specialty organizations.
Participants
  • Adults of all ages, particularly senior citizens
Potential Partners
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Alzheimer's Association
  • American Stroke Association
  • Retirement centers
  • Hospital Community Affairs departments
Venues
  • Senior centers
  • Community clubs and organizations
  • Caregiver support groups
Additional Outreach Activities
  • Research resources in the community for Alzheimer's and stroke rehabilitation.
  • Form a ěBrain Fitnessî group to research and discuss strategies for maintaining healthy brain functioning throughout the life span. Which strategies can be applied as group activities?
WORKPLACE OUTREACH

Goals
  • Help employers recognize and respond to employees' needs related to the effects of various brain-related disorders throughout the life span, as they affect not only employees but employees' family members as well. For example, parents and grandparents may have a special interest in Program 2, The Child's Brain: Syllable from Sound which examines language development and disorders. Adults of all ages, particularly those with elderly parents, may be intrigued with Program 5, The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives which explores the resiliency of the brain as it ages and explores the prospects for rehabilitation and recovery when disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer's, occur.
  • Inform employees of essential information regarding the functioning of the brain to alert them to any warning signs of disorder.
Format
  • Hold a series of five screenings of excerpts from THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN along with discussion groups. Each session would focus on one program of the series and the brain development and disorders covered in that episode. These may be held during lunch breaks or after work hours.
  • Invite professionals and experts in the field of neuroscience and the disorders covered in the programs to lead the discussions on each sessions' featured topics.
Participants
  • Adults
Potential Partners
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Human Resource managers
  • Local science museums
  • Organizations specific to the developmental stage or disorder under consideration
Venue
  • Workplace
Additional Outreach Activities
  • Make available information on each topic from the speakers, specialty organizations, Thirteen's outreach materials, and adult Guide.
  • Inform employees of services available through Employee Assistance or similar workplace programs.
  • Give information and contacts for local programs that offer assistance and/or information on the disorders featured on the programs.
  • Promote training of supervisory personnel in how to offer support and referral of employees to appropriate resources when needed.
  • Start ongoing lunchtime discussion groups, using the adult print materials and the BRAIN web site as guides. A number of groups can be formed, each focused on a different topic.
MORE OUTREACH SUGGESTIONS
  • Organize ětrain the trainerî workshops to teach leaders and trainers in informal educational settings, disease support groups, community centers, and senior centers how to use the series with their groups. Utilize The Brain: A User's Guide for Adults; outreach materials updates including resources and suggested activities; series clip reel; and web site featuring exciting graphics illustrating the brain in action.
  • Host a screening and workshop for parents and guardians using Program 1 to focus on developmental milestones from infancy through the toddler years. Develop workshops for parents led by professionals with expertise in the fields of neuroscience, child development, or preschool education. How can parents optimize their parenting skills to foster healthy brain development? What resources are available for assessment and treatment if problems are suspected?
  • Hold science fairs focusing on neuroscience through afterschool programs for teens. Enlist the support and sponsorship of a local health organization, such as a hospital or rehabilitation center. Include a special contest based on ěBrain Teaserî quizzes and puzzles.
  • Partner with local natural history museums or exhibition centers to present screenings, discussions, and special hands-on projects and exhibits to youth. Include a quiz show format competition based on knowledge about the brain and neuroscience.
  • Invite representatives from alcoholism and addiction groups to speak to parents' groups about the adolescent brain and addiction.
  • Collaborate with a mental health agency to co-host a screening and discussion for teen and parent groups about depression and schizophrenia, which often first manifest in adolescence.
  • Reach out to your general audience by joining with your local library to hold screenings and discussions on each program of the series and its content. Offer a reading list on any of the topics featured and the adult Guide. Distribute tune-in flyers.
  • Join with disease-specific groups, such as those involved with Alzheimer's, stroke, or mental illness, to host screenings of the series' pertinent episodes and discussions. The experts can provide information regarding the latest research, prevention, warning signs, recovery or rehabilitation, and caregiving.
  • Work with nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to promote viewing of the series and arrange discussions afterward with patients' families and administrators.
  • Develop an intergenerational discussion of the aging brain through your local faith communities.
  • Hold a screening and forum with local community leaders regarding the implications of the latest brain research on understanding various disorders, such as alcohol and drug addiction, and the implications of such findings for public policy on treatment.