Annual Brain Awareness Fair with Nettelhorst Elementary School
Established in close partnership with the Lakeview neighborhood’s Nettelhorst Elementary School, the Annual Brain Awareness Fair is an open-house style event open to the general public where guests are invited to explore the brain through hands-on activities. Designed to educate and engage K-8 children and their families about the brain and the progress and benefits of neuroscience research, the activities feature a wide range of neuroscience topics including the sensorimotor nervous system, visual system, cognition, and neuroanatomy. Since our inaugural event on March 19th, 2011, over 500 guests from over 34 different schools in Chicago have attended our annual Brain Awareness Fairs.
Before-School Brain Workshops at Chicago-area Middle Schools
In an effort to develop a semester-long outreach program in schools with underserved students and to expose those students to science in a fun yet educational way, this before-school program was set up in 2012. During the spring, a handful of Northwestern NUIN students went to Louis Pasteur Elementary School in southwest Chicago twice a month before the school day began to present a one-hour lecture and hands-on activity. The showcased topics included brain disorders, learning and memory, sleep, and sensorimotor systems. The sixth grade students had the opportunity to handle brains from different species as well as perform neurophysiological recording and microstimulation experiments. We are currently in talks to continue this outreach with 3 other schools over the course of the school year.
Northwestern University Junior Science Café
Organized by Suzanne Auburn of Northwestern University, the Junior Science Cafe is a monthly workshop series that aims to expose young middle school and high school students to a variety of science topics through hands-on demonstrations led by science professionals. Over the past few years, we have teamed up with the Junior Science Cafe to organize several neuroscience workshops for a group of approximately 30 middle and high school students enrolled in the Evanston, Illinois public education system. Each workshop consists of a short lecture followed by hands-on activities designed to immerse students in the featured topic.
Northwestern University BioEXCEL Program
The BioEXCEL program is an academic and leadership development program for diverse incoming Northwestern University freshmen interested in the biological sciences. The program is designed to prepare students for success at Northwestern University by helping them develop a strong foundation in core competencies including calculus, chemistry, biology, and leadership skills. As part of their biological research curriculum, we have been invited annually to organize lectures regarding brain machine interfaces where we conduct neurophysiological recording and microstimulation experiments with the students.
Museum of Science and Industry Science Achievers Program
The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Achievers Program is a science enrichment program for a diverse group of teens (ages 15-18) to deepen their understanding of various science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts through hands-on workshops led by working science professionals from various fields. In collaboration with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, we organized several workshops for the Science Achievers Program in 2011 where we explored the applications of brain machine interfaces/neuroprosthetics by performing neurophysiological recording/microstimulation experiments and using electromyogram signals to control robots.