Inspiring the Next Generation of Neuroscientists

By Carolina Cheng
BGE Office of Communications

On March 15, 2018, the GU Medical Center Graduate Student Organization (MCGSO) shared their love for science with 120 students from Hardy Middle School as a part of Brain Awareness Week, a week dedicated to promote neuroscience research and celebrate the brain.

The MCGSO Brain Awareness Week (BAW) and partnership with Hardy Middle School were founded by Dr. Carrie Leonard, an alumna of the Interdisciplinary Program of Neuroscience and former MCGSO Outreach Coordinator, in 2012. Driven by the communal passion to share science, the MCGSO BAW has expanded beyond the Hardy Middle School partnership to include BAW Movie Night and Public Lecture.

From “OMG” to “ew”

Cameron McKay, Doctoral Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Program of Neuroscience and MCGSO Outreach Coordinator, led the 2018 Hardy Middle School Visit. 30 MCGSO volunteers, which included Biomedical Graduate Education students and GUMC postdoctoral fellows, coordinated the 6 activity stations: Cognitive Control, Human-Human Interface, Make a Neuron, Anatomy Lab, Visual Adaptation, and Reflexes.

The Hardy Middle School students curiosity and fascination for the brain grew as they rotated through the activity stations, learning from MCGSO volunteers who are in the science field and passionate about science. Today’s aspiring neuroscientists inspiring the next generation of neuroscientists. What a sight to see.

The Hardy Middle School students especially enjoyed the Anatomy Lab, where they held 3 types of brains in the Anatomy Lab, including a human brain donated for scientific research! Sikoya Ashburn, Doctoral Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Program of Neuroscience and MCGSO President, commented, “I love their reactions to and excitement for the brain anatomy station as they hold a human brain for the first time, which can range from ‘OMG’ to ‘ew’.”

Making a Difference

The day ended with the students playing Jeopardy to review what they had learned throughout the day. They had become brainiacs infatuated about the brain. “It’s amazing to see how excited and eager they are to answer questions about the brain during our Jeopardy review session at the end of the day,” said Cameron McKay.

The Hardy Middle School Visit impacted not only the Hardy Middle School students but the MCGSO volunteers. “This event gives graduate students a stronger sense of community, purpose, and perspective. As we interact with the Hardy Middle School students throughout the day we team up with graduate students from departments that we would have otherwise never met,” said Sikoya Ashburn.

Thank you to the MCGSO leadership and volunteers for hosting this awesome, impactful event! Keep an eye out for the 2019 MCGSO Brain Awareness Week!