Hope College’s annual Brain Day will feature interactive games and presentations for all ages as well as a keynote lecture on the importance of mindfulness in coping with stress on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to noon virtually at hope.edu/brainday.

Those interested in participating may join in as able throughout the morning.  The event is free and no advance registration is required.

All of the activities are being presented virtually out of an abundance of caution due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition to the annual event’s traditional focus on providing an entertaining and informative exploration of how the brain works, this year’s installment has been designed with the pandemic’s psychological impact in mind, according to Dr. Andrew Gall, one of the event’s faculty organizers.

“We plan to have workshops focused on the importance of the brain and nervous system, why meditation and mindfulness are important for your brain and nervous system, and how stress is harmful to the body,” said Gall, who is an assistant professor of psychology.  “We will welcome the general public to interactive sessions spanning group meditation, yoga, and how relaxation and stress affect the brain. These events will target all ages — K-12 children, parents and teachers — by focusing on activities that parents and teachers can do with their children/students either at home or in a virtual setting.”

The interactive sessions will start at 9 a.m. and restart every 30 minutes, at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.  The activities and presentations will include games for families to play, demonstrations for children to play along at home and learn about the brain, a chance to learn how to be more mindful, an opportunity to learn yoga from home and an open house featuring members of the Hope faculty.

The morning’s keynote address will be by Dr. B Grace Bullock, a psychologist, research scientist, mindfulness educator, speaker, science journalist, and author.  The pre-recorded presentation will run once per hour beginning at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

The Brain Day activities will culminate the college’s Brain Awareness Week 2021 celebration running Monday-Saturday, Feb. 22-27.  The week’s other components will include

virtual classroom visits to local K-12 classrooms in the Holland-Zeeland-Grand Rapids area, and virtual outreach visits to local K-12 after-school programs.

This year’s activities are supported in part by a $1,500 grant from the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing understanding about the brain in health and disease through research grants and public outreach.  Campus sponsors of Brain Day and other Brain Awareness Week events at Hope include the college’s Cultural Affairs Committee, Natural and Applied Sciences Division, Social Sciences Division, ExploreHope, Neuroscience Program, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Department of Psychology.

Hope’s Brain Awareness Week is scheduled in advance of the global Brain Awareness Week campaign, which is running Monday-Sunday, March 15-21, this year.  Launched by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in 1996 and coordinated by the Dana Foundation, the week is designed to highlight brain science advances and the importance of brain-related research.