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Middle school "Brain Hackers" practice applied brain science

The Independent of Edgewood, New Mexico

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The main sponsor for this Saturday's NM First @ LEGO @ League state qualifier tournament at Vista Grande Community Center is the local non-profit Brain Hackers Association.

Event coordinator and Brain Hacker coach Chris Forsythe said approximately 40 Roosevelt Middle School students in the program volunteered to help with the many aspects of running the tournament. He said about 15 East

Mountain High School students also are volunteering in addition to parents and teachers.

According to their website, Brain Hackers is a STEM program for youth focused on neuro technology and applied brain science. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Forsythe, who has two children attending Roosevelt, said his goal is "getting kids interested in science and robotics."

Forsythe said East Mountain High School has been "fabulous" to work with. The school coordinated their athletic schedules so that the gym was available, and they also are making classrooms accessible for the presentation sessions. He said six sessions will occur at a time throughout the day in addition to the robot challenge in the gym.

Twenty-five teams of between seven and ten kids are registered to compete. Forsythe expects around 500 people to show up. Opening ceremonies are at 8:30 a.m. with awards presented around 5 p.m.

Brain Hackers will sell baked goods donated by Turquoise Trail Bakery in Cedar Crest. Bakery owner Erika Zahnle said they are providing 150 cookies and about 50 pretzels to the program. The main concession stand will be manned by EMHS as a fundraiser.

Students in Brain Hackers do experiments and games to better understand the brain process. They use EEGs to measure brain activity and experiment with techniques to improve performance.

Forsythe, whose professional specialty is applied cognitive neuroscience, said, "No field of science has more active scientists than brain science." He added that there's nothing available to kids who are interested in the brain and behavior science, and Brain Hackers fills a need.

He said UNM has an "outstanding" program in neuroscience. Albuquerque also is home to the Mind Research Network, which is "dedicated to the discovery and advancement of clinical solutions for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness and other brain disorders," according to its website.

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2014

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