BrainWaves: An EEG-based Neuroscience Curriculum Development and Teacher Training for Underserved High Schools

Project Website(s)

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  • Project Description

    BrainWaves is an innovative neuroscience program where high school students become brain scientists in an original study of their own creation: They are provided with the content knowledge and practices to design and conduct a neuroscience research study in their own classroom with the use of portable low-cost brainwave measuring devices (electroencephalography (EEG) headsets).

    The curriculum has two units. The first unit consists of a broad introduction to both cognitive neuroscience content and experimental design. Through a sequence of hands-on labs, students learn about neurons, brain anatomy, and the neural basis of learning and memory. Students are also introduced to EEG technology and discuss ethical issues in neuroscience research. In the second unit of the curriculum, students work in small teams to propose an original research question and formulate a hypothesis based on background research. Next, they design an experiment, collect data and analyze it. The program culminates with a symposium, where all students are invited to New York University to present their research. Students are also encourage to submit a manuscript to the BrainWaves journal.

    Throughout this process, students work closely with science mentors, typically Ph.D. students or postdocs in neuroscience. The science mentors visit the school once a week and provide guidance and mentorship.

    The program is also accompanied by a computer application (“the BrainWaves app”), which guides students through the process of designing their experiments, collecting and analyzing data.

    Prior to school implementation, teachers and science mentors participate in a professional development course. In this course, teachers and mentors experience the same process, in a small scale, that will later unfold in the classroom.

    The main educational research questions posed in this project can be formulated as follows:

    1. Does a technology supported, inquiry-based neuroscience curriculum (BrainWaves) impact student understandings of neuroscience content and experimental design and their attitudes toward science?
    2. How does engagement with the BrainWaves curriculum and program resources affect teachers’ attitudes towards neuroscience teaching?

    The program is implemented in 10 underserved public high schools in New York City every year, reaching over 300 students annually.

  • Abstract

    The BrainWaves program provides high school students and their teachers with a novel and exciting opportunity to engage in their own original neuroscience research study in the classroom, using portable Electroencephalography (EEG) technology. The curriculum covers topics that are tightly related to NIH-funded research, such as synaptic communication and brain organization, and introduces students to EEG, which is routinely used for clinical purposes (e.g. epilepsy diagnosis).

Project Audience

High school students

Subjects Addressed

Neuroscience, medicine, technology

Associated SEPA Project(s)