Neuroscience Launches High School Outreach Program with $1.5 Million Grant

February 3, 2011

The Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience is launching a new high school outreach program this semester thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) through their Undergraduate Science Education Initiative. The brainchild of two undergraduate students, Matthew Cobb and Dana Gannon, the program includes a semester-long course, paid summer lab experience, and visits from area high school science classes.

The program is for 20 students at English, Fenway, and Brighton High Schools. They will be coming to campus two afternoons per week for 11 weeks, and will have an opportunity to work closely with several neuroscience majors and new Postdoctoral Faculty Fellows through a hands-on laboratory course housed in the program's newly renovated instructional lab space. The class will give them a hands-on introduction to neuroscience.

Additionally, the program's administrators will select five students from this class to work in a lab on campus for six weeks this summer, also supported by funds from HHMI. The HHMI funds also include a monthly "neuroscience day" series where a different high school science class from the greater Boston region will come to the new instructional lab once a month to participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations.

The high school course, which began on January 24th, was developed last semester by Matthew Cobb and Dana Gannon, as part of their Senior Independent Work for Distinction for the neuroscience major. Matt and Dana are working with two Postdoctoral Faculty Fellows, Dr. Ken Adams and Dr. Mario Muscedere, to teach the course, who are joined by several additional undergraduate student volunteers. Professor Paul Lipton is the HHMI Program Director and Associate Director of the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience.

A few of the activities include a sheep brain dissection, modeling a simple neural circuit using wire, batteries, and a light bulb, exercises performing simple experiments on one another that demonstrate the function of our sensory systems, and the use of a computational model to illustrate how computers are used to model neural systems.

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