This event was a celebration of student research that showed how students, parents, and teacher can increase engagement, enjoyment, and empowerment for optimal learning and success at school and in life.
Miller Middle School students Sydney Flores and Max Dennison presented on "School Culture and Climate: Strategies to Manage Stress and Social Interactions." The website they developed on the topic offers tools and ideas for students on managing stress and overcoming fears. Their presentation also showed how fear and anxiety can affect class participation, and how teachers can help students who may be experiencing these roadblocks to learning.
In a ski town like Durango, one project was especially informative. Escalante students Garrett Ammerman and Emmett Arias presented on "How do Traumatic Brain Injuries from Skiing Affect Learning?" They showcased not only how traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can impact learning, but how some ski helmets may not be protecting us from TBIs on the slopes. The two found that helmets that pass more stringent Canadian regulations offer greater protection against TBIs, whereas European and American approved helmets make actually increase the risk for a TBI caused from a fall skiing.
The impressive student-lead program not only demonstrated how neuroscience informs learning, health, and wellness, but these students proved that they understood the brain by creating a fun and engaging environment to educate the public. This student-centered approach to exploring learning and the brain was supported by the Durango Education Foundation with their support of Hallie Whitney's grant "Growing Great Brains" which was awarded the Innovation Award from the Bank of Colorado in the Fall of 2016.