January 17th, 7:00 am. It has been a while since I have been this excited about heading to work on a Saturday morning. But today, I get to be a part of something I enjoyed so much as a child – an exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre (yes, I realize that the above statement most likely places me somewhere in the nerd spectrum, and no… I’m not ashamed of that).
Let’s flashback fifteen years or so to one of the last school trips to the Ontario Science Centre that I remember from elementary school. There was an amazing NASA exhibition in which my class was broken up into two teams, one on the shuttle, and the other looking after ground control. I remember coming home convinced that I wanted to be an astronaut. This was always the beauty of the Science Centre to me. With every interactive exhibition, I always felt a spark of creativity, curiosity, and ingenuity; more importantly, the Science Centre made me feel empowered by learning, and helped me to dream big. The only downside I ever experienced on my many trips to the Science Centre was that anxious feeling I would have on the bus ride home when I realized I had lost my mom’s Tupperware and one of my mitts…….. again.
Now, as fate would have it, I have been given a chance to be part of an exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre, BRAINFest. The Ontario Brain Institute invited Dianne and I to host a table for Epilepsy to educate people attending the event, and answer any questions people may have about seizures. We are both so excited that we are the first to show up (no surprise there) to set up our table. This gives us a little bit of extra time to walk around and admire all of the other agencies that we were in company with; the Ontario Brain Institute, the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Autism Ontario, and the NHCC to name a few. There is such an abundance of education about the brain and neurological conditions, and I haven’t even walked around the exhibition yet!
Having majored in biological chemistry in university, I am like a kid in a candy store walking into the exhibition. The amazing colours and representations of neuron synapses, the vivid brain scan images, and the interactive brain-teasers all begin to make me feel that spark I felt as a child. I take the time during my walkthrough of BRAINFest to be slightly mesmerized by my own brain specifically, and what is going on up there when I have a seizure – what an amazing storm that must take place.
As incredible as the exhibition itself is, it isn’t my favourite part of the day. Watching as child after child come to our table to learn about our plasma ball and electricity in the brain, split our foam model of the brain in two to see all of the different lobes inside, and watching their eyes open a little bit more when you explain to them what it means to have seizures and Epilepsy, and how they can help… now that is the best part! I can’t help but see a ten year old version of me in these kids as I witness the spark in each and every one of them – creativity, curiosity, and ingenuity at its finest. I am so lucky to have the chance to educate people about Epilepsy and try to create a positive change in how it is perceived!
Another successful day at the Ontario Science Centre, and this time….I didn’t even forget my Tupperware.