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NW Noggin

     I've been working on a project I call NW Noggin (http://www.nwnoggin.org).  It is an ongoing effort to bring together undergraduates and graduates in Psychology, Speech & Hearing, and Neuroscience from PSU, WSU-Vancouver, OHSU  -  and additional students from the Pacific Northwest College of Art  -  to design and deliver their own multi-week programs on the brain and behavior for local public schools…

     In the summer of 2012, I gathered a small group of graduate and undergraduate volunteers from local universities, and we developed a four week class on the brain and behavior for 20 middle schoolers at Sabin K-8, a NE Portland public school.  A Portland artist, Jeff Leake, worked with us to create art projects to help convey concepts in neuroscience, and extend our outreach efforts further… We partnered with the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), which manages the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Program at Sabin and other area schools, and taught kids about neurons and networks, their visual systems and perceptual
illusions, their brain’s response to music, and the actions and effects of various drugs… 

 

In 2013, we greatly expanded our outreach efforts, and delivered new programs to middle schoolers at two public K-8s:  Sabin and Jason Lee… And our students also collaborated with both SUN and the federally funded Gear Up program, which offers educational enrichment opportunities for academically at risk entering high school freshmen (and follows them through to college).  So some of our 25+ graduates and undergraduates taught this summer at Portland’s Madison High School, and worked with EIGHTY 9th graders  - introducing them to the structure and function of their own developing brains…

For more information on our 2013 summer efforts at Madison…
http://www.pps.k12.or.us/news/8924.htm

 

 

 

       An exciting aspect of Noggin is how everyone gains useful experience.  The undergraduates benefit from exposure to the graduate students, and learn about graduate school, and ongoing federally funded research at OHSU and elsewhere;  both graduates and undergraduates gain experience developing lesson plans and activities, and teaching;  our art students contribute immensely to these activities, brainstorming effective and creative, hands on ways to convey key concepts in neuroscience;  and the middle and high schoolers get very excited about science, and discover how to further satisfy their interests by continuing their education through college and beyond…

This summer we had all those undergraduates and graduate students from multiple universities (PSU, OHSU, WSU, and PNCA) – along with our 80 Madison freshman, and 12 middle schoolers from Jason Lee  -  at the OHSU Primate Center for an extraordinary talk and eye-opening tour of the facilities. Students heard from researchers working on animal models of MS, dementia, and obesity, got to see primate behavior in action (lots of baby macaques), and ask questions about animal experimentation, brain research, and potential career opportunities, too…

It was apparently the largest group of students the primate center ever hosted..!

 

To watch an amazing video produced by two PSU undergraduates, click the link.
http://nwnoggin.org/photo-album/jason-lee/

Bill Griesar, Ph.D.
Instructor, Psychology, Portland State University
Adjunct Instructor, Speech & Hearing Sciences, Portland State University
Adjunct Instructor, Psychology, Washington State University in Vancouver
Affiliate Graduate Faculty, Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University