Apr 3, 2014 · Leave a Reply

107 students+ 42 volunteers= 1 successful event

By Crystal Mendoza @crystalmendoza

By: Robin Willenbring

Volunteer teaching elementary students about neuroanatomy using real animal brains.

Volunteer teaching elementary students about neuroanatomy using real animal brains.

On a monthly basis, medical and graduate students receive an email from the Brainwaves team with the subject line containing some phrase including “Brainwaves Event”. Let’s be honest; a good portion of people automatically delete this. One reason might be that you have no idea what Brainwaves is (I know this because I have received guilt ridden apologies from people). Since you delete these emails (disclaimer: in the future you should actually read them), you most likely have no idea what this program is, why we exist, and the amazing things we are doing for our community.

Let me start by explaining what/who we are: Brainwaves is a student run neuroscience outreach program dedicated to promoting higher education and fostering interest in science to local youth of all ages. By forging educational partnerships with local public schools and community youth programs, with a focus on disadvantaged youth in the Rochester area, we use interactive learning stations to not only teach basic neuroscience topics, but engage students in the science behind these basic lessons. Stations include, but are not limited to, lessons in neuroanatomy, traumatic brain injury, and effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain. With our interdisciplinary collaboration between Mayo Medical School, Mayo Graduate School, Mayo School of Health Sciences, and Neurology Residents, we aim to create early enthusiasm about careers in science and medicine by exposing youth to a diverse group of volunteers. As our emails always state, you do not need to be a neuroscientist, or neuro [insert title here] expert to volunteer with this program. We teach basic lessons and have a wide variety or lesson plans, so you can help teach where you are most comfortable. We are also continually adding or modifying lesson plans to meet the needs of both the schools and our volunteers. By using interactive lesson plans, we make the time you spend with Brainwaves not only educational, but fun and impactful.

Now that you know what Brainwaves is, hopefully that will convince a few of you to not delete our emails. If you are still not convinced, I would like to tell you about a fantastic event that happened just recently that has allowed Brainwaves to reach out to students in a new and exciting way. In March, Brainwaves hosted a Brain Awareness Week Event. Those of you who were unaware, every year in March there is a week dedicated to Brain Awareness (http://www.dana.org/BAW/). Over 100 high school students from local high schools were invited to come to Mayo to participate in this event. During their time here, the students took part in the following activities:

Dr. Kendall Lee giving his Keynote Speech for the BAW Event.

Dr. Kendall Lee giving his Keynote Speech for the BAW Event.

Keynote speech by Dr. Kendall Lee

Human Anatomy Lab with human brain and spinal cord specimens

Lab rotations: Six different Mayo labs opened their doors to students, including topics such as: 2 photon, BIR, Zebra Fish, Motion Analysis, Brain tissue, and DNA sequencing

Career Panel: 10 different Mayo consultants and residents from various neuro-related fields (neurology, neuroradiology, neuropathology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, neuroscientist) came to sit on a panel during which students were encouraged to ask questions about why these professionals chose to pursue their field, what they do on a day-to-day basis, and what the education path is like for getting to that particular career.

This event would not have been possible without the support of the wonderful faculty here at Mayo Clinic, our fantastic volunteers, and the overwhelming support for outreach programs here at Mayo Clinic. So from the Brainwaves Team, Thank you again! This was an incredible event and feedback from the schools was overwhelmingly positive. We are excited to hold this event again in the future!

Brain Awareness Week Event planning Committee. Left to right: Erika Ross, Robin Willenbring, Amelia Van Handel, Dan Mellema, Kate Wilton (not pictured: Josh Warner)

Brain Awareness Week Event planning Committee. Left to right: Erika Ross, Robin Willenbring, Amelia Van Handel, Dan Mellema, Kate Wilton (not pictured: Josh Warner)

If you have any questions about this event or Brainwaves itself, or – better yet! – if you  would like to volunteer with Brainwaves in the future, please feel free to contact myself or the new co-director, Brian Rodysill (rodysill.brian@mayo.edu)!

Thanks for Reading : )

Robin Willenbring

Brainwaves Co-director

Willenbring.robin@mayo.edu

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