although genetics play a role in intelligence, the environment contributes significantly to a person’s intelligence… continuous learning and education improves the brain and makes one intelligent… there is no limit to the capacity of a healthy brain to learn, store and recall information. –Velma Shang, Co-Founder of DRE-AM Ghana
DRE-AM Ghana and the Scientect Outreach arm today co-organized a science seminar for the Junior High School students of St. Michael’s School at Akim Awisa-Asawase in the Birim South District, Ghana. The seminar was led by Mr Aaron Opoku Amankwaa, Co-Founder and Vice President of DRE-AM Ghana and Editor of Scientect website. Also in attendance was Ms Velma Shang, a Biotechnologist and Co-Founder of DRE-AM Ghana.
Speaking on the topic “the brain and effective ways of learning,” Mr Aaron Amankwaa stated that an effective way of learning is repetition. He explained that learning induces the formation of new connections (synapses) between brain cells (neurons), which help the brain to easily recognize and store the information one is learning and recall it when necessary. He compared the concept to creating a path through a thick bush. “As you continuously take the same path, its size increases and it becomes clearer and very easy to recognize,” he explained. He also stated that activities that could keep the brain healthy and help one remember information easily include physical activity, stimulating the brain with mental activities, interacting with people, and eating healthy foods especially fruits and vegetables. He mentioned that people who have a sense of worth, manage stress effectively, sleep well and think positively are more likely to have good memory.
Mr Aaron Amankwaa, who is a Forensic Scientist and a Biochemist, also introduced the students to the field of forensic science during the second presentation at the seminar. He described forensic science as “the use of scientific techniques to investigate, explain and evaluate events of legal relevance in a crime or civil wrong.” He explained that forensic science is an applied science that uses different disciplines of science such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and geology to solve crime. He highlighted some of the basic knowledge taught at the JHS level that are applied in solving crime. These included knowledge of the cell and the stages of development of insects. He said that DNA extracted from a bloodstain or spermatozoa could help the police identify individuals involved in a crime, or identify disaster victims. He also said forensic entomologists could tell when somebody died by examining insects around the decomposing body.
During the questions and answers section, Ms Velma Shang dispelled some common myths about learning and intelligence. Students asked if intelligence is hereditary and how to deal with maths- or science-phobia. She explained that although genetics play a role in intelligence, the environment contributes significantly to a person’s intelligence. She stressed that continuous learning and education improves the brain and makes one intelligent. On the phobias, she said students should adopt strategies to deal with the fear because there is no limit to the capacity of a healthy brain to learn, store and recall information. She emphasized that continuous practice improves understanding and memory. She said that students with unreasonable fear about science or maths should seek help from a counselor and their teachers.
Below are some pictures from the event.