In Harvard’s Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab, high school students from Cambridge Housing Authority’s (CHA) The Work Force Program, enthusiastically volunteered to learn about brain research by testing an MRI scanner. Others wore blue gloves as they cautiously interacted with authentic human and animal brains while learning about their neuroanatomy. In a room with iPads connected to a television, students broke into small groups and played a very fun and competitive game of, “debunking common brain myths” led by two researchers.
These compelling workshops are part of Harvard’s commitment to the local community. To ignite and support educational aspirations, Harvard opens its doors to local public school students. During their February school vacation, students visited Harvard to experience a day in the life of a college student and to learn tips to get on the path to success, after high school.
Constanza Vidal, the project manager for The Human Connectome Project — an NIH-funded multi-site study, that seeks to investigate how different parts of the brain are connected to each other — said of the CHA students, “everyone in our team was very excited to share some basic brain science research with the students who attended, especially since they happen to be in the age of the lifespan that we’re most interested in!” She continued, “The students had very insightful questions about our research as well, and reminded us of the importance of making scientific research accessible to the community. We sincerely hope we managed to provide even a small contribution to their excitement about science and the idea of attending college!”