Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Abstract

Engaging undergraduate students in science outreach events is critical for improving future communication between scientists and community members. Outreach events are opportunities for faculty and undergraduates to utilize active learning strategies to engage non-scientists in scientific questions and principles. Through careful design of outreach events, undergraduate students can practice science communication skills while reaching populations of the public that remain underserved and underrepresented in scientific fields. Here we describe a classroom outreach event designed to give a broad overview of the field of neuroscience to middle school students of all backgrounds by delivering the content in school, during school hours. Through a variety of active learning strategies, middle school students learned about basic structures of the brain and their corresponding functions. Additionally, these students participated in demonstrations during which they generated and tested their own hypotheses and learned about sensory transmission and responses. We designed the lesson to meet the educational goals for middle school students, fulfilling the criteria for the Next Generation Science Standard MS-LS1-8 (NGSS Lead States, 2013). We evaluated the impact of the event on both undergraduate student instructors and middle school participants. Our results demonstrate that these outreach events effectively deliver new content to middle school students while also reinforcing the importance and value of outreach to undergraduate instructors.

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