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'Midwich Experiment’ to teach students about the brain in brand new format

20 November 2014

Jenna Todd Jones, a PhD student in Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology, is participating in the project as a science advisor, and will also contribute to the events as an ‘expert’ scientist ready to lead the participating students to a deeper exploration of the field of neuroscience.

A classic British film about teenagers who can read and control minds is the inspiration for ‘The Midwich Experiment’, an immersive theatre experience designed to teach secondary school students about the brain and cognitive enhancement, funded by a £30,000 Wellcome Trust People Award.

The project has been devised by the BFI (British Film Institute) as part of its two month programme Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder, along with theatre education organisation Cinelive and neuroscientists from across the UK including a University of Bristol student.  The project is inspired by the 1961 film The Village of the Damned, itself based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos, and tells the story of a village invaded by prodigious children who are able to read and control minds.

A series of events taking place in selected rural locations around England and Wales will immerse Key Stage 3 students in the world of the film, enabling them to explore cognitive enhancement, neuro-imaging and the ethics of brain science by stepping inside the world of this British Sci-Fi classic, built and populated by student performers.

Jenna Todd Jones, a PhD student in Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology, is participating in the project as a science advisor, and will also contribute to the events as an ‘expert’ scientist ready to lead the participating students to a deeper exploration of the field of neuroscience.

She said: “I have always been passionate about public outreach and have enjoyed engaging school students with the topic of cognitive enhancement and smart drugs – I am very excited to be a part of this innovative project.

“Each event is totally immersive; the students will become part of the film and will have to be more than just observers.  They will participate in scientific experiments and be encouraged to investigate their own questions about the nature of the brain, psychology, and cognitive enhancement.

“I think the project is very different from anything I have done or seen before.  The students will be engaged with every aspect of the events from film-making, to acting, to the scientific method.”

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