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Columbia University Zuckerman Institute

Grant Information

Year Awarded
Dana Education

This grant supports Columbia University’s Big Topics in Neuroscience for Young Minds: A Middle School STEM Educator Workshop to equip middle school teachers with tools, resources, and evidence-based lessons to facilitate discussions with their students of current events and challenging topics at the intersection of neuroscience, ethics, and society.

The main objective of Columbia’s Big Topics in Neuroscience for Young Minds program is to expand the scope of neuroscience education by nurturing teachers’ and students’ curiosity and ability to engage with real-world neuroscience issues encountered in the media, news, and daily life. Middle school represents a critical stage in cognitive and emotional development, making it an ideal time to introduce neuroscience concepts and connect them to students’ everyday lives and experiences.

Over the course of 18 months, Columbia will train two cohorts of teachers to reach a great number of students from low income and minority-serving schools. The program will engage teachers in the same interactive learning experiences they will practice with their students—promoting critical thinking, engagement with ethical considerations, and the application of neuroscience principles in real-world contexts. The workshops will be facilitated by Zuckerman Institute faculty and program staff and include discussions and interactive exercises that will help guide the teachers as they develop their own neuroscience and society lesson plans and present them to their peers. These lessons and activities, as well as a list of scientist-vetted, age-appropriate neuroscience resources, will be collected and transformed into a freely available online resource.

This grant supports the Dana Education objective to engage K-12 students in learning about neuroscience and its relevance to society through structured education opportunities (formal and non-formal) that capture their interest and inspire continued study.

This grant also supports the Dana Education objective to facilitate greater understanding and informed decision-making among professionals by supporting new education approaches on neuroscience topics related to their practice.

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To ensure a positive future, we must better connect neuroscience to the needs of society. We must strive to make the field more inclusive and collaborative. By opening the field up to diverse perspectives, working in closer partnership with other disciplines, and deepening our engagement with the general public, neuroscience can contribute to the flourishing of everyone.

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