Award-winning team brings Grade 8 students to York U for ‘Brain Day’


Optical Illusion and Tumbling Room demonstrations expose students to careers in the sciences

TORONTO, June 11, 2008 -- Twenty Grade 8 students will put their textbooks aside to investigate how the brain works through an experiential learning partnership at York University and a Toronto middle school.


Students from Portage Trail Community Middle School will visit laboratories at York’s Centre for Vision Research to learn how the brain works when humans see objects and reach for them. The visit will also give the students an opportunity to experience an authentic scientific environment, to observe experiments and to learn about the scientific method, said Michael Vesia, York doctoral student in kinesiology and co-organizer of the event. 


“Teaching science to kids using only textbooks is an arduous task. In a day and age when kids' senses are constantly being overloaded with media images and gadgets, most kids need to be engaged when learning science through hands-on activities,” Vesia said.


The hands-on activities for students will capitalize on on-going studies at the Centre for Vision Research that investigate how we see in three dimensions, how we reach out to things, how vision determines our perception of orientation, how our brain controls the way our eyes move, and how our brain processes optical illusions.


The Reversing Prisms demonstration will show students how the brain can be retrained to use visual information to guide the body’s movements.  This procedure is part of ongoing research promoting recovery following stroke from York’s Visuomotor Neuroscience Laboratory.


The Tumbling Room demonstration will illustrate how vision determines peoples’ perception of orientation as the Tumbling Room – a cube resembling a typical room – is rotated around a stationary subject. 


Vesia and Portage Grade 8 teacher, Valeria Cuda, conceived of Brain Day as an excursion that would conclude other career fair events at the middle school throughout the year.  Vesia and Cuda design the events to increase student awareness of various career paths available in the sciences. 


This past year, Cuda and Vesia were the co-recipients of the Neuroscientist-Teacher Partner Travel Award. The Neuroscientist-Teacher Partner Travel Awards give teachers the opportunity to attend the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting – the premiere venue for the world's neuroscientists to debut their cutting-edge research.  


Vesia is also the recent recipient of last year’s University-wide teaching award at York.


York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 24 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.



 Media contact:

 Killeen Kelly, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22938 /