“Without the brain, our lives would essentially be meaningless. We wouldn’t be able to feel, think, speak, communicate, form relationships; we would all be exactly the same,” notes Lily Hyde ’24. “What differentiates the billions of people in the world are their backgrounds, their interests, their experiences—all things that wouldn’t be possible without the brain. So, if the brain is what allows us to live rich, fulfilling lives, why do we only begin to truly dive into it and learn about it later in life?” And that is the impetus for Hyde’s creation of Brain Buddies, an FWCD community service organization centered on exploring the wonders of the brain with fourth-graders through educational and entertaining games, lessons and activities.
Not only do club members investigate the individual parts and functions of the brain, but they also learn about the brain’s incredible importance and how it can be nurtured and taken care of through nutrition, exercise, education, or concussion prevention.
With the brain such a significant part of the developmental stage when young, why aren't students taught how to better take care of it early on? This question has loomed in Hyde’s mind since she developed a passion for neuroscience/psychology. Brain Buddies came to her as an answer. “What if high school students introduced the brain to Lower Schoolers in an educational yet simple and fun way so that they may better understand its incredible significance in our lives,” she said. “When this idea came to me, I remember a sensation of utter enthusiasm and excitement washing over me.”
Hyde got to work right away. First, she decided to focus on fourth-graders because their minds are more developed and would better grasp the complex and complicated subject of neuroscience. She contacted Joan Massey, the teacher she had as a fourth-grader, to share the idea with her. Upper School Community Service Coordinator Christy Lennox and Assistant Head of Upper School Paula Weatherholt helped her create a schedule that would allow Upper School students to join the club and work with the fourth-graders per the schedule Massey thought would work.
She spent August and September sorting out the details. Hyde was able to introduce the organization to Upper School students in early October and share the application. On October 14, Hyde was meeting with 35 Upper School students, preparing them for the first meetings with the fourth-graders on October 18 and 25.
Those first meetings involved an introduction to the organization and Brain Buddies Leaders in each classroom and some BrainPOP videos ... about the brain. The activity included coloring each brain region a different color, cutting out each region, and pasting them on a worksheet next to the arrow pointing to that corresponding region. Hyde’s agenda was detailed and included links to the videos for all leaders and a detailed PowerPoint for the activity. Moving forward, Brain Buddies will meet with the fourth-graders twice a month throughout the school year.
“Most importantly, I see Brain Buddies as a way to foster meaningful connections and memories between two very different age groups. On the way to lunch or walking from class to class, Upper Schoolers and Lower Schoolers briefly see each other, maybe share a smile or a high five. But they never truly get to talk, laugh, and get to know each other,” Hyde shared. “So the goal of this initiative is to bridge the gap between these two divisions at FWCD and unify them in joint passion and excitement for the brain, science, and learning in general. These kids are the future of science, the future of America, the future of our world. They will be the ones who will propel our nation forward and make it an even better place.
“So while the goal of Brain Buddies is to inspire the next generation of neuroscientists, psychologists, and researchers, its goal allows Upper School students to make an impact within the FWCD community and hopefully give the next generation a passion for science that they will carry with them throughout the rest of their time at FWCD and beyond,” she continued. “Its goal is also to further promote the unique and remarkable sense of community within FWCD.”
In the coming years, Hyde hopes to expand the operations of Brain Buddies to include more grades in the Lower School. She also hopes to find ways that Brain Buddies can reach students beyond FWCD.
“When I first came up with the idea for Brain Buddies, I never thought it would come to life so quickly and gain such overwhelming support,” Hyde shared. “ It just speaks so much to the incredible community we have here at FWCD: a community that both encourages students to pursue their passions and goes the extra mile to help us bring our dreams to fruition.”
Fort Worth Country Day (FWCD) is a JK-12 private, independent, coeducational, nondenominational college-preparatory school located on approximately 100 acres in Fort Worth, Texas. The mission of Fort Worth Country Day School is to foster the intellectual, physical, emotional, and ethical development of capable students through an academically rigorous college preparatory program that integrates the arts and athletics.