NYU to Train NYC Underserved High Schoolers to Become Neuroscientists with New NIH Funding

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NYU will partner with 10 underserved public high schools across New York City to develop and implement a cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience curriculum with a new $1.3-million-dollar grant awarded from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

NYU will partner with 10 underserved public high schools across New York City to develop and implement a cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience curriculum with a new $1.3-million-dollar grant awarded from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. NYU researchers will provide the student-scientists and their teachers with the knowledge and practices to design and conduct neuroscience research studies in their own classrooms using portable, low-cost, yet highly sensitive devices that measure brain waves (electroencephalography or EEG), as shown above. Image courtesy of Diane Quinn.

New York University will partner with 10 underserved public high schools across New York City to develop and implement a cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience curriculum with a new $1.3-million-dollar grant awarded from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGEMS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Under this five-year grant, high school sophomores and juniors will develop and implement original neuroscience experiments of their own creation. Using an innovative new teaching curriculum called “BrainWaves,” NYU researchers will provide the student-scientists and their teachers with the knowledge and practices to design and conduct neuroscience research studies in their own classrooms using portable, low-cost, yet highly sensitive devices that measure brain waves (electroencephalography or EEG).

The approach is based on a study published in Current Biology earlier this year by the NYU neuroscientists in which they recorded the brain activity of high schoolers and their teacher during an entire semester of biology class using the same EEG technology. They found that the synchronization of brainwaves among students during class reflected how much the students liked the class and each other.

In addition to training New York City public high school teachers to implement these experiments in the classroom, the researchers will seek to understand if this novel neuroscience curriculum can improve the following: student understanding of neuroscience content; scientific experimental design; and attitudes toward science. They will also explore how engagement with the BrainWaves curriculum and program resources affect teachers’ attitudes towards neuroscience teaching. This evaluation will take place over three years in the 10 New York City schools.

We look forward to working closely with high school students and teachers as we develop a fun and effective neuroscience training program that can ultimately be implemented world-wide, inspiring underrepresented youth to pursue STEM careers,” says Ido Davidesco, one of the project’s leaders, who is a postdoctoral fellow in NYU’s Department of Psychology and will be a research assistant professor at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development beginning in 2018.

The funding is part of NIGEMS’ Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA). The grants aim to increase workforce diversity and improve the nation’s science literacy through innovative educational programs.

The project (R25OD23777) will include researchers from NYU’s Center for Neural Science, the Department of Psychology, and the Department of Teaching and Learning and the Center for Research on Higher Education Outcomes—both part of the Steinhardt School.

 

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