U Windsor grad student promotes bike helmet safety
'Project: Brain Bucket' teaches kids to wear helmets by educating them about different brain processes
When students learned what different parts of the brain did in connection to bike safety, they were more likely to wear a helmet, compared to students who just watched a traditional bike safety presentation.
That's what University of Windsor master's graduate Daniella Mlinarevic discovered during Project: Brain Bucket.
Mlinarevic took bike helmets into high school classrooms and surveyed students before and after a presentation on brain processes. Students who learned what different parts of the brain were used for were more likely to wear a helmet.
"We were testing for health and safety perceptions," said Mlinarevic. "There were positive differences between those tests."
To be sure, she also incorporate a control group who received just a standard bike safety presentation. Those students weren't any more likely to wear a helmet afterwards.
Mlinarevic had students decorate helmets with paint. The group who learned about brain processes were asked to paint what the brain did on different parts of the helmet — for example, painting eyes on the back of the helmet where the brain controls vision.
"When kids think about wearing a helmet they think about protecting their head," said professor Lori Buchanan, Mlinarevic's advisor. "Daniella gave them reasons to think about protecting the function that the brain is doing. It's more important to think about hearing or seeing something rather than thinking about getting a bump on the head."
Although experts say nothing should be added to the exterior of a helmet, Mlinarevic said the decorated helmets are better than nothing.
"These helmets are going to people who won't have a helmet at all, so we figured it was better to give them something rather than nothing at all."
The first round of Project: Brain Bucket made about 150 helmets, which Mlinarevic says are going to bike shops and organizations who promote bike safety and brain health.