Making A Mark! Makes its Way to WISHfest–Neurodiversity Conference!

Making a Mark! Discovering the Power of Neurodiversity on a Learning Safari by Katrin McElderry and Mark Stoddart made a mark at WISHfest on April 23rd 2024. WISHfest; Waterbury Innovation Sustainability and Health is a neurodiversity festival put on in conjunction with the mayoral office of Waterbury and the TRANSCEND PhD Neuroscience Program at University of Connecticut.

The conference included presentations, panel discussions and workshops. Nestled amongst the brain model-making and dissection tables, the book Making a Mark! Discovering the Power of Neurodiversity on a Learning Safari was available to students, school educators, professors and PhD students who loved the book!

 Says TRANSCEND PhD neuroscience student, Jie Luo, ‘the book is wonderful! I am bringing it to my co-workers to share at the Connecticut Education Department. This book has a good story and great information that is easy for students and educators to understand.’ Pictured above, Jie shares one of the pages that her professor, Dr. Fumiko Hoeft helped learning specialist, Kate McElderry, with in the writing process.

Jie also shows students how to create models of the brain—some of the same parts explained in the book, such as the amygdala—a small, but important part of the limbic system in charge of experiencing and regulating emotions.

In addition to helping provide updated research for the book, Dr. Hoeft served as inspiration for the book in the form of character, Dr. Calcooya, a mathematics teacher and scientist at Freshton College. As someone who promotes awareness of the intersectionality and overlaps of diversity, Dr. Calcoolya shows readers of the book that a person can be ‘more than one thing,’ and empowers her students to learn actively through meaningful experiences.

In real life, Dr. Hoeft does the same thing, with special events like WISHfest which, like the book, represents and celebrates collaboration, neurodiversity, creativity, innovation, learning and the brain!  

Dr. Fumiko Hoeft speaking at WISHFEST
Students enjoying the book Making a Mark!
Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, Katrin McElderry (author) and Jie Luo, TRANSCEND PhD neuroscience student
Neurotransmitters cartoon
TRANSCEND PhD training program poster and book
Comic portrait of Fumiko Hoeft by Rachel Cush

See what Dr. Hoeft says about the book!

Making a Mark is a whimsical story inspired by a true character, Mark, the science of reading and learning differences. This book is for learners of ALL ages and profiles, as it teaches us the true challenges that neurodiverse learners face, but at the same time, how each of us are different. It highlights the importance of reading, strengths- based approaches and resilience. -Dr. Fumiko Hoeft

Learn more about Dr Fumiko Hoeft

Dr Fumiko Hoeft MD PhD is an esteemed neuroscientist, researcher, professor and internationally known speaker on Literacy acquisition, Dyslexia, as well as other Neuroeducational topics. Dr. Hoeft was faculty at Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and is currently the lab director of the Laboratory for Learning Engineering and Neural System (brainLens), a collaboration between researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and UCSF and directs the Brain Imagine Research Center (BIRC) at UConn. Dr. Hoeft’s research and educational outreach have been awarded and recognised by International Dyslexia Association (IDA), Learning & the Brain Foundation, Int’l Mind Brain & Education Society, Society for Neuroscience, Eye to Eye National and more. She serves on the board of National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Bay Area Discovery Museum’s (BADM), Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC), International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and Eye to Eye. Dr. Hoeft partners with organisations like Haskins Global Literacy Hub and schools, putting on workshops like the, Ask a Brain Scientist series to educate and inspire youth. We are so appreciative of the role she played in Making a Mark! Discovering the Power of Neurodiversity on a Learning Safari.

*This is a guest blog by Katrin McElderry – thank you Katrin.

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