“Brain team” collaboration helps kids learn about the influence of alcohol

ThinkFirst Oregon, the Portland Alcohol Research Center, and the Oregon Poison Center, (AKA the Brain Team) all located at OHSU, recently collaborated on a presentation for kids in grades 4-6, addressing the influence of alcohol on the brain.

During a two day period, over 900 students were bussed into the Safe Kids Union County Safety Fair, held at the Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande, Oregon.

Wallace Chan, from ThinkFirst, demonstrates the average size of an adult brain.
ThinkFirst educator Wallace Chan demonstrates the average size of an adult brain.

In 15 minute rotations, students learned about brain anatomy, function, and impact of alcohol on different areas of the brain.

Students participated in “Walk the Line” an activity very similar to a field sobriety test, where vision distortion goggles simulated the changes in behavior and coordination that alcohol can induce.

The Brain Team emphasized that in a real world situation, a pair of goggles can be taken off, while the influence of alcohol can stay with you.

Students were encouraged to apply what they learned about alcohol and the brain to their thinking about the other exhibits at the fair, which included ATV riding, preventing and handling bullying, safe bike riding, and wilderness safety. Students came up with ways that alcohol could influence safety, performance, and decision making in all those other areas.

Fiorella Carhuaz, Health Educator from the Oregon Poison center describes a memorable experience, “The most gratifying part of the event was when I saw their “aha” moment faces, and I knew they were deciding to say no to drinking.”

Teachers uniformly, and many quite emphatically, described the presentation and hands-on activities as very informative and age-appropriate. They thought it was effective experiential learning about the brain and the effects of alcohol, and was especially timely for students as they grow well into adolescence.




Mark Rutledge-Gorman, Education Core Director-Portland Alcohol Research Center



fio headshot


Fiorella Carhuaz, CHES Health Educator- Oregon Poison Center



Wallace Chan Photo



Wallace Chan, Education Presenter -ThinkFirst Oregon





2 responses to ““Brain team” collaboration helps kids learn about the influence of alcohol

  1. Are there similar events planned in the future and if yes, how do we get to know about them? Thank you.

  2. Hi Ashok,

    Upcoming events are listed on the web page: http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/health/services/brain/in-community/thinkfirst/

    Presentations to schools or groups are by request and depend on team availability. Also found on our webpage is a presentation request link.

    Teachers or organizations can request ThinkFirst presentations here:

    For fall prevention seminars or programs, those interested can email: matterofbalance@ohsu.edu

    For injury prevention presentations, K-12, those interested can also email us at: thinkfirst@ohsu.edu

Comments are closed.