This past summer, we worked with teachers and educators during a number of workshops to help empower them to bring DIY Neuroscience to their classrooms. One workshop, hosted by one of our colleagues at University of Chicago, brought Backyard Brains tools and training to 7th grade teachers in the Chicago area.
“Hands-on Training : During this fun four-day workshop, middle school teachers will learn a hands-on, inquiry based curriculum all about sensing and the brain. Teachers will work in collaborative teams and have opportunities to adapt activities to their unique classroom environments. The curriculum is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Engaging University of Chicago scientists will present basic “Neuroscience 101” instruction as well as hot new topics in neuroscience research.”
We visited University of Michigan’s campus during their annual “Xplore Engineering” camp. This multi-day event brings grandparents, parents, and their young scientists from all across the country to lovely summer Ann Arbor for a few days of science and engineering experiential opportunities.
Scientific publications are a bit more formal than our preferred mode of “sharing the good word” of DIY Neuroscience–our TED videos are a great example of our normal route. But, scientific publications are a currency of authority, and they do offer the opportunity to lay out, very precisely, why we think that students around the world should study neuroscience!
In the past, we have published the results of our own DIY neuroscience research, as well as the research of our students and fellows, but the publication we are excited to share today is a little bit different!
This argumentative piece by our co-founder Dr. Greg Gage presents an argument for why neuroscience isn’t just a fun and engaging subject in K12, but it is rather a critically important subject that must be addressed if we want to see real progress and change in the future of neuroscience research.
From the paper, Greg argues,
“One in five people will have a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives (World Health Organization, 2013), and the economic costs of these disorders are staggering. Many of these disorders do not have approved treatments or are in need of newer, more effective ones to be developed. In order to accomplish this, basic and translational research is needed to increase our collective knowledge of the principles that govern brain function. Given the importance of this research to society, it seems odd that the only way to study the nervous system has been to enroll as a neuroscience graduate student. “
Obviously, we think that that’s bogus, which is why we do the work that we do at Backyard Brains. You don’t need grad school to get started learning about neuroscience! In fact, we have lots of examples of students in Middle School and High School tackling big questions in neuroscience!
And lastly… it’s worth mentioning that if you are a teacher or a student attempting to make YOUR CASE for why your school should be teaching hands-on neuroscience, this is a fantastic resource for you. Take advantage of the journalistic prestige of Neuron and single-author papers to help make your argument. And let us know what we can do to help!