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Neuroscience Education Program Encourages Learning at All Ages

July 06, 2012

Eight new grants administered by NIDA aim to channel students' natural fascination with their behavior and their brains into appreciation and enthusiasm for neuroscience. Grantees are developing K-12 education programs that will engage young people in learning about the brain, inspire some to pursue careers in biomedical science, and increase teacher knowledge of neuroscience. The 5-year grants are funded by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research Science Education, a cooperative effort among the 16 NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that support neuroscience research and the Science Education Partnership Award Program of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Susanna Cunningham of the University of Washington, Seattle, will develop two programs in the neuroscience of learning and cognition for middle school science teachers, students, parents, and community groups. Teachers will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge by participating in a Summer Institute and online Professional Learning Community. An online project for students will be designed to broaden their knowledge of the brain and learning processes, scientific research processes, and neuroscience careers.

Dr. Eric Chudler heads a University of Washington project that will teach middle school students how chemicals in plants and herbs influence health and behavior. A supplementary educational resource kit will supply teachers with inquiry-based, hands-on science activities. Students may attend a summer camp to learn more about neuroscience, mental health, neurological fitness, and careers in the biomedical sciences.

Dr. Michael Kavanaugh of the University of Montana, Missoula, will collaborate with the Exploratorium in San Francisco to create the Brainzone, a neuroscience learning center. Designed for K-12 students and adults, the Brainzone will feature four exhibits, a computer learning laboratory to teach neuroscience lessons, and a working laboratory with research-grade electroencephalogram (EEG) instrumentation and materials for the study of fruit fly neurobiology. The Brainzone will open in a high-profile retail mall that tallies 7 million annual visits and will also travel to isolated, underserved, rural, and tribal schools throughout the state.

Dr. Dina Markowitz of the University of Rochester in New York will develop, field test, disseminate, and evaluate hands-on activities that focus on key concepts of neuroscience for high school biology students. The activities, designed so that teachers can easily integrate them into existing curricula, will also educate students about the ways in which neuroscience research directly applies to their lives as well as about careers that require neuroscience knowledge. This project will also recruit, train, and support a network of teacher-presenters who will lead professional development workshops for their peers throughout New York and the United States.

Dr. Leslie Miller of William Marsh Rice University in Houston will develop a game-based Web site to help high school students  understand the role of clinical trials in the research process. Players will assume various professional roles in clinical trial simulations, learning about scientific discovery and the testing and adoption of new treatments based on neuroscience research.

Dr. Nancy Moreno of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston leads a group that will develop, evaluate, and disseminate an inquiry-based science and health curriculum to enhance students' neuroscience knowledge and understanding in grades K-5. Teachers will be able to implement the curriculum, which will include elements of reading and language arts, in school or informal learning settings. Major educational Web sites—including BioEd Online (www.bioedonline.org) and K8 Science (www.k8science.org—will offer the curriculum, student activities and materials, and resources for teachers.

Dr. Steven Snyder of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia will collaborate with the University of Pennsylvania to engage K-12 students and teachers in learning about the importance of neuroscience in their world through the development of programs at the Institute, a high school course, and a digital toolkit of educational materials for K-12. The programs will help students understand how the brain interacts with the rest of the body to shape responses to the environment. The activities will emphasize personal aspects of health and behavior.

Dr. Louisa Stark of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City will develop inquiry-based, multimedia educational applications for touch-interface devices to teach students the neurophysiology of the five senses. The applications will demonstrate how research can lead to improved treatments for sensory impairments. Local, state, regional, and national workshops will prepare middle school and high school teachers to use the applications, which will be disseminated without charge via the Internet.

This page was last updated July 2012

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    National Institute of Drug Abuse (2012). Neuroscience Education Program Encourages Learning at All Ages Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/07/neuroscience-education-program-encourages-learning-all-ages

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