Journey Through the Human Brain - grand opening

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Jennifer Cope, Slatkow & Husak Public Relations or (479) 426-6855


March 13, 2019


Science Center Unveils Groundbreaking Brain Exhibit: Journey Through the Human Brain

World-class, $2.5 Million Project Will Open March 13 Thanks to Renown Partnerships


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s Journey Through the Human Brain, a $2.5 million, 2,500-square-foot permanent exhibit is about to open after three years of development. According to Science Center President Lew Crampton, it is the most advanced exhibit on the human brain to be found anywhere in the world. The exhibit opening on March 13 highlights Brain Awareness Week, happening March 11-17 as a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.


“This is a great day for our Science Center, which – from relatively modest beginnings – is rapidly becoming one of the top community-based science centers in the nation,” Crampton said. “Presenting an exhibit of such depth and breadth has been an incredible challenge, but we have drawn upon the talents and expertise of some of the top minds in our region and the world. We could not have done it without our incredible partners, and I am grateful for everyone who helped us create this important educational exhibit.”


Journey Through the Human Brain takes a bottom-up approach to telling the story of the human brain, from the molecular and cellular level to the integrated circuitry that creates our hopes, fears and memories. The exhibit encompasses a new west wing of the Science Center and includes multiple galleries. Guests are treated to 30 interactives appealing to both adults and children. The Introductory Gallery emphasizes the theme of the exhibit and will even feature a walk-through fog screen and an augmented reality brain projection. An immersive Brain Development Wall shows the growth of the brain over a lifetime. The “Lie to Me” interactive showcases how much effort the brain goes through to lie. The “Senses, Thoughts and Emotions Gallery” allows visitors to explore sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch.


Visitors will learn about ways to adopt a healthy brain lifestyle and students are encouraged to consider careers in health sciences.


The exhibit is a partnership between the South Florida Science Center and Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute. Dr. Randy Blakely, Executive Director of the FAU Brain Institute as well as Professor of Biomedical Science in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, along with Dr. Nicole Baganz, Brain Institute Director of Community Engagement and Programming, have been instrumental in the construction of the exhibit. Major components of the exhibit also feature significant hands-on participation from the Max Plank Florida Institute of Neuroscience and Scripps Research Institute of Florida.


According to Dr. Blakely, “the brain is endlessly fascinating, whether exploring how it generates our hopes and dreams or what goes wrong in brain disorders. Neuroscientists are giving us an increasingly detailed picture of how the brain is built and works, and we hope through this exhibit to inspire young minds to delve even deeper into brain science.”


Major funders for this exhibit include Quantum Foundation, the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation, John and Heidi Niblack, Robert and Christine Stiller, Willis H. duPont, Palm Health Foundation, and PNC Bank.


“This exhibit specifically addresses Quantum Foundation’s mission to fund education relating to health in Palm Beach County, and it is an honor to partner with such prestigious organizations to bring it to our local community,” said William Meyer, member of the board of trustees for Quantum Foundation. “As a health-focused foundation, it addresses so many of our Foundation’s priority areas and we are delighted to play a role in funding it.”


The Science Center also partnered with local community organizations including the Palm Beach County School District Medical Academies, Center for Child Counseling, Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition and CareerSource of Palm Beach County.


The exhibit opening also coincides with Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute’s “Brainy Days 2019,” a celebration of neuroscience throughout the month of March. From understanding autism, addiction and Alzheimer’s disease to exploring how the brain processes violent behavior, researchers hope to engage, empower and educate the public on brain diseases, promote brain wellness and ultimately reduce the stigma associated with brain disorders.


“The trustees of the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation are proud to co-sponsor the Journey Through the Human Brain permanent exhibit as we believe that it will be transformational for STEM education in Palm Beach County,” said David Nicholson, BSc., LLD, CFA, chairman and founder of the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation. “The exciting scientific discoveries in the decade ahead will belong to neuroscience.”


The mission of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is to “open every mind to science” and in addition to its fresh and saltwater aquarium and new backyard Science Trail, the indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” an interactive Everglades exhibit and the 18-hole Conservation Course – an outdoor putting course with science-focused education stations.


The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.  Admission to Journey Through the Human Brain is included in regular ticket pricing, which is $17.95 for adults $15.95 for seniors, $13.95 for kids ages 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Planetarium shows and mini golf are not included in general admission pricing. 


For more information, call 561-832-1988 or visit Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @SFScienceCenter.




South Florida Science Center and Aquarium


Exhibit Highlights and Talking Points


Journey through the Human Brain is a 2,500 square foot, permanent exhibition located in the west wing of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.  It contains 30 interactive installations, has been in development for three years and cost $2.5 million to produce.


Journey through the Human Brain takes a bottom-up approach to telling the story of the human brain, from the molecular level to the integrated circuitry that reveals how the brain informs our senses, creates our thoughts and emotions, and how it has evolved into the most complex structure in the universe. The exhibit will delve into disorders of the brain and highlight ground-breaking research taking place today at world-famous brain research centers located in Palm Beach County.


Major funders include: Quantum Foundation, Stiles-Nicholson Foundation, John and Heidi Niblack, Robert and Christine Stiller, PNC Bank, Willis H. duPont, and Palm Health Foundation.


Journey through the Human Brain has been developed through a partnership with Dr. Randy Blakely, who directs the Brain Institute at Florida Atlantic University, and also features significant hands-on participation from Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience and Scripps Research Institute of Florida.


Journey through the Human Brain is the most advanced exhibit on the human brain at any museum in the world. Because of the Science Center’s relationships with leading brain research institutions in Palm Beach County, the exhibit can be updated as new developments in neuroscience research occur.


Exhibit label copy, graphics, voiceovers and videos are available in both English and Spanish. The exhibit also features a specially-designed app connecting to visitors’ phones to enhance their experience while in the exhibit or at home.


A key objective of this exhibit is to broaden the Science Center’s audience so that they appeal to adults as well as kids.


Visitors to the exhibition will learn about ways they can adopt a ‘healthy brain’ lifestyle and students will be encouraged to consider careers in the health sciences.

Educational Goals:

  1. To provide visitors with an understanding of the structures and functioning of the human brain and its development and explain the basics of human brain anatomy.
  2. To present the many different functions carried out by the human brain, and how it controls our senses, thoughts and emotions.
  3. To inform our guests about how the brain develops over time with a particular emphasis on early childhood brain development; to present information about brain disorders and explain how scientists are developing new ways of detecting, preventing and treating brain disorders; and to dispel myths commonly held about the human brain.
  4. To highlight and showcase cutting edge research being conducted at the FAU Brain institute, Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience and Scripps Research Institute of Florida.
  5. To explain what a ‘healthy brain’ is, and to encourage visitors to adopt a ‘healthy brain’ lifestyle, ensuring that their brain is properly protected, nourished and stimulated at all times.
  6. To engage visitors in hands-on STEM activities and encourage students to consider careers in health sciences.

  Experiential Goals:

  1. To provide visitors with an immersive exhibit experience that presents information in ways that are engaging and memorable.
  2. To create one or more ‘iconic’ experiences that will resonate with visitors, both young and old – experiences they will remember for years.
  3. To present information in ways that make it accessible to the widest possible audience and to provide resources that will allow visitors to explore the human brain in greater depth after their exhibit experience.

Exhibit Highlights Related to JTHB Being the Most Advanced Exhibit in Existence About the Human Brain.

  1. Deep Dive – This interactive puts the structure and physiology of the brain at visitors’ fingertips, letting our guests explore the captivating images and cutting-edge science through a six-level deep dive that reveals the brain’s innermost secrets. Using a joystick and dive buttons, visitors control a dynamic voyage from the brain’s outer lobes and fissures into its internal structure and finally the microscopic level of synapses and neurotransmitters.
  2. Brain Development Wall – This 15 x 5-foot interactive video wall presents the cutting edge of current knowledge about the human brain and how it develops. It illuminates the way the brain develops throughout the lifespan.  At the left of the wall, visitors explore the brain’s early formation in the womb.  As they move along the wall, they learn about the factors that affect the brain’s growth in childhood and adolescence and the way the brain changes in adulthood and old age. Each stage of life is accompanied by colorful, high-tech imagery from a range of types of scans and cutting-edge visualization techniques.  Brain Development Wall contains an encyclopedic depth of content that visitors can explore as much as they choose and the content will be updated continuously as new information becomes available from FAU Brain Institute, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and Scripps Florida.
  3. The Brain-Machine Interface – Neuroprosthesis – Working with Dr. Erik Engeberg and the FAU BioRobotics Lab, a visitor-operated prosthetic hand exhibit was created for the exhibit that uses EMG (electromyography) – electrical signals that travel from the brain through the forearms of visitors – to control this advanced robotic device.  This exhibit demonstrates how brain-machine interfaces are being developed that allow direct communication between the brain and prosthetic devices.  This is the first visitor-operated, EMG-controlled prosthetic device ever to be placed on display for use by a general public audience.
  4. Microscope Activity – The exhibit features a Nikon 80i research grade microscope with a motorized stage that can be operated by the general public using a touch-screen interface. This allows our guests to access different areas of the human brain from prepared slides and project the images they create onto a large 48 inch monitor. Developed in collaboration with Dr. Mark Sanders, Director of University Imaging Centers at the University of Minnesota, this device gives visitors an opportunity to have a real hands-on experience with the actual tools that researchers use to explore the inner workings of the human brain.

Exhibit Highlights Related to JTHB and the Visitor Experience of Interest to the General Public.

  1. The Senses Gallery – This area of the exhibit is designed especially for younger children, with large oversized images of our sensory organs and interactive experiences where kids can listen to sounds that adults can’t hear, see how well they recognize familiar smells, and test their sense of touch by trying to assemble a puzzle without being able to see it.
  2. Fog Screen Entry Experience – Visitors to the exhibit will enter by actually walking through a fog screen showing some of the most advanced images available of the human brain.  The “glass brain” images projected at the entry were developed by the Neuroscape  Neuroscience Center at the University of San Francisco and were made available to the South Florida Science Center for use in this exhibition.
  3. Human Brain Virtual Reality Experience – Features large scale 3D images of the human brain floating in space in a VR theater laboratory setting within the exhibition.
  4. Plastinate Specimens of a human brain and spinal cord, and the circulatory system of the human brain were developed for the exhibition by Von Hagens Plastination of Germany. Plastinate specimens are used in medical education and have been seen by millions of people around the world in the now-famous Bodies exhibits, one of which was featured at the South Florida science Center in 2016 and 2017.
  5. Reaction Time – Paul DeJong, shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball team, and scientist Dr. Lawrence Rocks, are featured in an interactive exhibit that helps visitors understand the concept of reaction time and measure their own reaction time. Can you hit a major league fastball?
  6. Lie To Me – An interactive exhibit that teaches our guests about one of the most demanding tasks that our brains undertake -- telling a lie – and lets them see how well they are able to detect when a lie is being told.
  7. Mobile Application – Additional activities will be available for visitors to explore, both in the exhibit and at home, through the Science Center’s about-to-be-launched mobile application which contains a special section dedicated to the Brain exhibit.
  8. Brainy Games, Puzzles and More – This exhibit is chock-full of colorful puzzles and games where guests can create neuron structures build a brain from its component parts and explore a five-foot high model of the human brain with all of major segments labelled and accessible for examination and learning.
  9. Community Tie-Ins – Several in-exhibit activities can be electronically linked to service organizations such as the Center for Child Counseling, Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition, Career Source of Palm Beach County and the Palm Beach County School District Medical Academies.