This past weekend I visited two outstanding programs in Portland designed to inform Oregon educators (and through them, school-age children) and an interested citizenry about advances in neuroscience. I was very much impressed by these programs; they are good models of what SHOULD be happening, all across America.  <strong>Brain Awareness</strong> (www.oregonbrains.org) targets teachers and school administrators.  <strong>BRAINet</strong> (Brain Research and Information Network) targets the general public.  Led by a wonderful visionary Bobbie Haggearty and supported by an outstanding team of research fellows and volunteers, these programs are administered from the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, with unstinting help and support from neuroscientists at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

My lecture for the Brain Awareness group attracted about 250 very highly engaged classroom teachers and school administrators in Portland, more than 70 participants at a remote site in Eugene, and a third group of about 30 teachers in LaGrande, in ranching country in far northeastern Oregon.

The BRAINet lecture held the following day attracted more than a hundred delightful and  enthusiastic citizens who were eager to receive another topical “brain science update”.  This level of participation, intense interest, and downright fun provides strong testimony about the success, vigor and effectiveness of these important efforts.

Because neuroscience is of such fundamental importance to all of us, and because brain science has rapidly growing impacts on us individually (and on American society) the education of our children and of all American citizens about this exploding scientific discipline is of great importance.  One great value of this effort in Oregon is the promotion of a closer interaction of a wonderful group of neuroscientists at Oregon universities with the public that they serve.  That’s VERY healthy for all concerned.

This effort in Oregon provides an excellent model that could and should be duplicated all across the United States.  Programs like this would almost certainly take off in your own community and state.  Look to the programs developed by Bobbie Haggearty’s OHSU team as outstanding, positive examples of what CAN be done!