These past weeks our BM group virtually visited different classes at the Los Cármenes elementary school in Granada to teach the children about science and bilingualism.

For the youngest children (Kindergarten & 1st grade) we prepared different activities, including story telling in Spanish, English, and Arabic using the Japanese kamishibai picture story telling technique. One of our demonstrations explained language switching costs: the kids had to name colors in Spanish or in English, alternating rapidly between the languages… not so easy! We received many questions about science and languages from the curious students. For example, Rania (7yo), asked us,

Are all languages important?

We told her of course! Learning languages is beautiful because it opens doors to different worlds, and all of those worlds are important and have something to offer.

For the older children (5th & 6th grade) we went a bit more in depth with our presentation, explaining how the brain changes due to bilingual experiences, and how we use the scientific method to formulate hypotheses about these changes. We told them about the different tools (magnetic resonance, EEG) we have available to us to use in our research at our home base at the Center of Mind, Brain, and Behavior, and demoed how to put on an EEG cap. The children thought it was neat that our neurons produce electricity, just like lightbulbs, and that these signals can be measured! There was even one future scientist in the class that had already participated in an EEG experiment before. One of the students, Tania (11yo) wondered,

If I hit my head, do my neurons die?

We explained the concept of brain plasticity and that there are many professionals (speech therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists) that are trained to help when cerebral damage occurs.

The children have the possibility to win fun prizes in the upcoming weeks if they participate in several contests that we’ve encouraged. The kindergarteners and 1st graders will be taking part in a drawing contest, where they have to draw their interpretation of The city of languages. The 5th and 6th graders will be taking part in a writing contest where they have to finish the story which starts with the phrase, Once upon a time, in the city of languages… in 2-4 pages. We've encouraged them to write in several languages or to include bilingual concepts. Our BM group will judge their creations and the most original drawings and stories will be hung up in our lab and featured on our website. Stay tuned to find out...!