Midwest Book Review Recommends Neuron Galaxy
Review by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
What do stars in the sky and brain cells have to do with one another? One doesn't expect this information to be present in a slim picture book format, much less prove appealing to a wide age range; but Neuron Galaxy: A Story from Morphonix About Your Brain is something special in the realm of science reads and doesn't follow the usual pathways to exploring brain science.
For one thing, it's backed by the knowledge of a team of consulting neuroscience advisors, including some conducting original research on how games can be used to alleviate cognitive deficits. The game approach is thus incorporated into the overall presentation, which at first reads like a picture book story for the very young ("When you were very, very little, a tiny baby neuron grew inside your head. The baby neuron was lonely. It wanted to connect to neuron friends.").
Science-minded youngsters who read beyond this very simple beginning will be surprised to find that discussions proceed relatively quickly to the evolution of neural networks, scientific names and concepts such as dendrites and axons and how electrical messages are transmitted, and discussions of why neurons are the basic forces driving almost everything in human life; from the ability to feel joy and sadness to the ability to draw, play, and learn.
The journey moves from very simple, basic neuron science to consider the wider galaxy, noting that "You have as many neurons as there are stars in our galaxy." Gorgeous full-page color illustrations by Max Weinberg and Christine Gralapp help transmit this concept; offering kids an easy way of understanding the basics of neurons and their importance to the world.
The result is a unique and wide-ranging story that readers of all ages will find accessible and surprisingly easy to understand, highly recommended for any science collection for elementary-level readers.
Neuron Galaxy Reader's Favorite Review
Reviewed by Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite
Neuron Galaxy by Karen Littman and Jay Leibold is an awesome book, taking you inside the human mind. How does your brain work? How do you think, walk, stand, talk, and feel things? Look deep inside your brain for the fascinating answers to one of the most mysterious parts of the body. Meet a friendly neuron and explore how your neurons grow as you grow. See how they help you with the most mundane of tasks. Follow the little neuron as you learn how to take care of your brain so that your neurons don't fade away. A must-read for children wanting to know more about how their brain works or where their thoughts come from.
I was first attracted to Neuron Galaxy by Karen Littman and Jay Leibold by its unique title and cover. I am so glad I picked it up! It is the perfect book for the child that is constantly asking questions or interested in science. It is also a perfect supplemental learning tool. The book is written in a way that encourages the child to ask questions about the story. On the very next page, there is the answer. It is as if the authors anticipate the child's questions and have the answer ready immediately. The story is educational and fun to read, but what makes the book spectacular are the illustrations! Beautiful, colorful, and stimulating. I believe that this book is perfect for children ages 4-9. That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a must for the family's library. I will be looking for more books from Morphonix and the NeuroPlay Adventures!
Neuron Galaxy Introduces Kids to the Wonder of the Brain
GAME INNOVATOR MORPHONIX RELEASES FIRST BOOK
Morphonix LLC is launching its first book in October 2016. Morphonix has become known as the “Brain Game” company for kids. Based in northern California, it has been making award-winning games, apps, and songs to teach children about the brain and neuroscience in a fun way since 1990. The book and app mark a venture into new territory and an integration of narrative and interactive modes of storytelling.
This wonderfully crafted beginner’s text on the brain, its neurons and its near magical abilities will help young readers and their parents learn about the body’s most valuable organ.
— Floyd Bloom, MD, former Editor-in-Chief of Science and Professor Emeritus, The Scripps Research Institute
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Neuron Galaxy, an illustrated book for children of all ages, brings a touching and original approach to introducing readers to the brain and brain science. By telling the story of a lonely neuron reaching out to connect to other neurons, it engages kids in the basics of how the brain works.
The story makes a graphic connection between the stars in the sky and nerve cells in our brain. There are as many neurons in our heads as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and the book leaves readers with a sense of awe and wonder for the human brain equal to their awe and wonder for the universe.
Lush illustrations and poetic prose convey the sense of marvel. All content has been vetted by a panel of prominent neuroscience advisers, including Floyd Bloom, MD, and Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, who is doing groundbreaking research on the use of games to alleviate cognitive deficits at the University of California, San Francisco.
An animated, interactive digital app will accompany launch of the book as Morphonix innovates ways to integrate narrative and interactive storytelling.
Morphonix Founder and Creative Director Karen Littman says, “We hope that our neuroscience games and stories awaken children and teens to the miracle of their own growing brains, inspire them to take good care of their brains, and nourish their curiosity about the realm of biology as a whole.”
Neuron Galaxy is the first book from Morphonix LLC, which has become known as the “Brain Game” company for kids. The company receives grants from National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. Neuron Galaxy, in both book and app form, is part of the NeuroPlay Adventures suite of apps, games, stories and songs for ages 5-8.
All ages, from five to ten to fifty to eighty, learn about the brain and marvel at its powers in this book.
Neuron Galaxy is a beautifully composed journey, sure to stimulate any child’s enthusiasm to learn about their brain.
— Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry Director, Neuroscience Imaging Center, University of California, San Francisco
Common Sense Media gives Every Body Has a Brain 5 stars!
"Every Body Has a Brain presents a wealth of information about the brain in a fun and lighthearted package. Kids not only learn about the four parts of the brain, but they actually get a chance to exercise each part by playing specially tailored mini-games. One of the mini-games in the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that controls creativity), for example, lets players compose rudimentary songs by dragging and dropping instruments onto a grid. Kids should learn a lot without even realizing it since they will be too busy having fun."
— Erin Bell
Read the review on CommonSenseMedia.org.
School Library Journal Review
These 17 songs from the musical video game of the same name help youngsters learn about brain function. Listeners meet Phoebe Brainheart as she learns about the parts of her brain, their functions, and how they work with other parts of her body. Phoebe also discovers things like how to take care of her brain by eating good foods ("Feed Your Brain") and wearing a helmet during sports activities ("Protect Your Brain"). A variety of musical styles are employed to keep listeners attention such as ballad/New Age, folk, techno pop, and Caribbean. Standouts include "Work! Work! Work! in the Brainstem" and "the Brain Team Works Together." Use these songs in class when teaching these difficult concepts to young children.
— Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Every Body Has a Brain: "An audio-visual masterpiece"
How do you get a 4-year-old child to sit in front of a computer, use a mouse, and enjoy learning interactively for prolonged periods? The secret is to populate the screen with dynamic characters, magical backgrounds, melodies, sounds and animations; and change the mouse/arrow into a colorful star or animated fireworks, luring the child into an intriguing adventure.
This entry by Morphonix is an audio-visual masterpiece, beautifully designed to capture - and hold - the attention of the preschool or early elementary child (and beyond). Every Body Has a Brain is one of the most innovative entries we have received: Creative and artistic settings, music, sparkly mouse cursors, stories, games/lessons and animated cartoon characters keep the interface alive and exciting while the child interacts and learns complex facts about the brain. The inclusion of mouse-over audio identification of the buttons and lessons is a feature that is often missed by those who design software for the nonreader.
The program is referred to as 'An interactive musical brain game' for Windows and Macintosh, but this understates its depth and breadth. The setting takes place, appropriately, in the brain of Phoebe Brainheart, a girl who loves to find out new things about the brain. Here, the child can explore each of four major areas of the brain: Brainstem, Cerebellum, Hippocampus and Cerebral Cortex. Buttons and hotspots launch lessons that include pertinent science and history definitions and facts. The Brainstem unit contains Brain Train, where the child must identify the object that has a brain; and in History of the Brain - Reptile Roundup, the child moves the mouse over illustrations of dirt, leaves, grass and water to uncover remains of reptiles, learning facts about the brain of various species while improving motor skills. In the Hippocampus unit, dancing baby hippos joyfully reinforce the main lesson: How this part of the brain helps us to remember.
Every Body Has a Brain merited an EDDIE Award in the Early Learning - Science category. It can be purchased on a CD (Windows and Macintosh) or as a downloadable. Perhaps our only suggestion pertains to the CD itself, which would best serve this elegant program if it were.
Every Body Has a Brain: Sausalito Company Morphonix Focuses on Brain Power
Neuromatrix: 2008 Parents' Choice Awards Review
"Every so often, someone makes a videogame that stands apart due to its creativity or incredible visual impact or educational value. Neuromatrix scores on all of those accounts."
Review—Neuromatrix is the most awesome game! Nanobots are trying to destroy the brains of scientists and you have to stop them. You can surf in the brain and get neurotransmitter vials to BLAST them away. Also, you learn how to diagnose someone and the game tells you when it is a motor problem or memory problem or whatever. You learn all sorts of cool stuff about the brain too.
It’s not hard to play at all and all you have to do is click on the sentences and it talks for you. So, for littler kids its not hard to read because it does a lot of that work for you. It is SUPER cool to see the inside of the brain and the graphics are awesome! If you want to play this super cool game you have to check it out at www.morphonix.com . Neuromatrix says it is for kids 11 years old and up but I am 9 years old and I play it fine - actually, the first night we got it I passed a lot of levels. We think that if you’re good at the computer and if you have an XBox, GameCube, or Wii, this will not be hard.
Morphonix™ is the company and they are very nice. They are donating some copies of the game for Week of the Brain at our school. The computer lab is going to be more fun than ever! And teachers can’t get mad at us for playing games because its educational. So, ask your teachers to order it for Week of the Brain for your school and if they can’t do it, ask your mom and dad to get you a copy. We totally recommend this game. It is the best game on the brain we have seen and it is so fun!
— Bo Erik Hollsten
Journey Into the Brain
-"Dear Morphonix™, My kids fight (still!) over who gets to play Journey Into The Brain, even though we have had it a few years now. Thanks for such a great product!! I remember hearing that another program was being developed. Is it still in the works? When you have a moment, please drop me a line. My kids are sure looking forward to it." - The Happ Family
-"Dear Karen Littman, I wanted to express my appreciation for “Journey Into the Brain” by Morphonix™. I purchased the program when it first came out for my mentally and physically handicapped daughter. Through the years since then, she has played the program almost every day. She is able to solve the adventure even though she is about 7 mentally. Sixteen is her physical age. Last year when the program started to malfunction and we couldn’t fix the problem, our daughter was very upset. So I called Morphonix™ and a new copy was kindly sent. Our daughter picked up right where she left off playing the program daily. The concept and quality of this program is SUPERB. It teaches and entertains at the same time. I know there are plenty of computer learning programs out on the market. But these programs are blatantly aged and graded academically. There are few software programs being produced that are simply engaging without all the pressure to match it to a grade level. I would be highly interested in purchasing another Morphonix™ software program. Please consider creating another one. I know my daughter would be thrilled!" - Mrs. Patricia Dunn & daughter Aimee
-"Children are playfully introduced to the brain and its functions. They'll particularly like the interactive story/game in which they have to explore an animated human brain to solve a mystery. As they wander about, they learn of the inner working of the brain, find bits of memory to help out a mixed-up little girl and play the logic games they run into." - Children's Software Review
-"Spectacular graphics await you in Journey into the Brain"
"For a mystery game that takes you inside a human brain, try Journey into the Brain... Through engaging interactive activities, children begin to learn how the brain functions. The artwork throughout is spectacular. There is also an activities area and a research part known as the Brainarium."
- Choosing Children's Software - Spring 1999
The Best Science Software - Early Elementary
-"Journey into the Brain lets kids, grades 2-6, explore neuroscientific concepts by learning about their own developing brains." - Technology and Learning - November/December 1998
-"Congratulations on a wonderful product...the audio is clear, the art is captivating and the games are engaging. It is my belief that your target audience (children ages 6-11) is one group that has been neglected when it comes to science education materials. I am glad to see that you created a product for these kids." - Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D. - University of Washington
-"Journey into the Brain...is wonderful! The game is fun to play. Information is presented in a clear, concise manner - just enough without overpowering the average child. I can assure you that it will receive a great deal of exposure here at Lesley College. Please be sure to keep me posted on new Morphonix™ educational titles. I am always on the lookout for quality educational software." - Eileen Barnett: Director / Educational Software Coordinator
Instructional Computing - Lesley College
-"I just wanted to let you know how much my second grade class enjoys your software - Journey into the Brain. Every time they have the opportunity they gather around the computer to watch as one of their peers gather memory bits. The first day a student got to level 3 we had to postpone starting our regular lessons for thirty minutes because they were so excited about the game! This is the only software program I've used that has held their attention for so long - it even holds their attention as they just watch their peers play.
-"I had been searching for materials for teaching neuroscience to children since I start every year with a unit on the brain. It's a great way to set the tone for learning for the entire year. My class even calls themselves 'The Brainy Bunch.' I was so excited to find software on the brain at their level! And even more excited when I found out what a quality program it is! THANK YOU!" - Sheryl Hardin: Gullet Elementary School - Austin, Texas
-I liked it. I think it will help a lot of kids learn and have fun." - Belinda, age 9
-"I liked that it was harder in Stages 3 and 4 because you have to think harder and use your brain." - Nicole, age 10
For Everyone Caring About Parents, Kids, Community
Published by A.P.P.L.E. FamilyWorks - Advancing Principles & Practices of Life Enrichment
By Anne Bubnic, Custom Computers For Kids
New Software Titles Engage Children And Prove Learning Can Be Fun!
"Too often, it seems like education takes a back seat to entertainment, when it comes to quality software. Here are a few new titles that break from the mold. Thet are not dependent on character recognition or branding to hold your child's attention. And they prove that learning can be fun.
Children have a natural curiosity about their bodies. A number of software titles, including 'Magic Schoolbus Explores the Human Body' (Microsoft), 'My Amazing Human Body' (DK Multimedia), and 'What's The Secret?' have addressed bodily topics on a child's level. But no CD-Rom, up to this time, has offered such an immersive experience in exploring how the brain works, as 'Journey Into The Brain.' Funded by NIH, the title was produced locally in Marin by a team of content experts that included neuroscientists and educators.
In 'Journey Into The Brain,' children are introduced to a character, 'Celeste,' who eats coconut and jelly sandwiches and does other crazy things. They must go on a rescue mission inside her brain to gather scattered memory bits and restore it to normal. Along the way, players meet characters like Brain Stem, Sera Bellum, and Sir Rebral Cortex.
We learn that 'the brain stem is a bundle of nerves,' and 'the cerebellum is responsible for skill, balance & timing.' These are typical 'factoids' that are continually presented during the journey. Children learn without even realizing it.
Subtleties abound in this title. As they travel from one site to the next, players make their way through artfully-rendered neural "forrests" that are medically-accurate enlargements of actual neural networks. 'Sera Bellum' morphs onto the screen from the shape of a cauliflower, a form which the cerebellum actually resembles. Then, since the cerebellum handles 'balance', children must balance vegetables on a scale to recover memory bits in this region. Another activity, "Fire a Synapse" mimics neurotransmitter function, as kids shoot alien particles, Additionally, children are using their own brains to solve challanges. Sometimes, they are using the exact regions of the brain that they are studying as they bring puzzles to conclusion.
'Journey Into The Brain' is an opportunity well-taken. It brings amazing richness and depth to its quest, without overwhelming children. They learn everything from healthy eating habits to bicycle safety and the dangers of drugs as they gather information on the functions of the human brain. The activities are widely diverse. There are six original tunes, created for the program. Brain teasers, tests of memory skills, art and music challanges cover all of the multiple intelligences.
Beyond the virtual tours and activities that occur within the game, children can also visit the 'Brainarium' where they can learn more facts and see real brain images from collections gathered by distinguished physicians."
Anne Bubnic teaches computer classes to K-5 students in Marin County and has her own consulting practice, Custom Computers for Kids.