Working with a local elementary school, uLethbridge alumna and neuroscience researcher Dr. Robbin Gibb (BASc (BSc) ’77, MSc ’01, PhD ’04) is taking leading brain research right into the classroom to create a brighter future for the next generation.
“The part of the brain I’m interested is the prefrontal cortex. It’s the part of the brain that supports executive function. These functions are what help us become successful in life and they include things like working memory, flexible thinking and behavioural inhibition,” explains Gibb. “Increasing executive function makes a difference in a child's brain development, setting them up for success in learning and in life.”
Gibb has developed curriculum to help enhance executive function skills with children in their early years. She’s teamed up with Lynn Wytrykusz, an early education program manager at Westminster Elementary School in Lethbridge, who has implemented the curriculum into her classroom through games and activities.
“We are embedding the messages from these games in all the activities we do so the children are spending every day getting quality practise with those skills,” says Wytrykusz.
For Gibb, seeing the impact of the research in Wytrykusz’s classroom is especially meaningful.
“We have the opportunity to get right into the core of what’ happening in our society and try to have an impact based on what we’ve learned from the research we do in the labs,” says Gibb. “I believe with positive and intentional experiences, we can make a difference in a child’s brain development and in their academic performance.”