What could get elementary school students more interested in neuroscience than dissecting brains? While it may not have been the question the founders of NeuroInspire asked themselves, hands-on activities with students from the local community have been an important part of the group’s mission.
Last year, a group of Jefferson students in the neuroscience laboratory took notice of the wide gap in science education and interest at the elementary school level. Knowing that they would be able to do their part to help bridge the divide, they founded NeuroInspire. NeuroInspire’s goal, as stated on its website, says “The primary goal is not only to spark an interest in neuroscience, but more so to inspire youth to go out and explore the world through a scientific lens.”
“The progression you see in these kids over just a few weeks leaves you speechless,” senior Srikanth Chelluri, the manager of public relations, said. “These are children that actively engage in neurobiology for the first time in their lives. It’s when they say, ‘I get it’ or ‘that’s so cool’ that makes you feel like you’re making a difference.”
In order to accomplish this goal as well as possible, NeuroInspire’s members divides their time. Every Wednesday B-block, the NeuroInspire team meets to discuss plans and get everyone caught up.
“There’s a load of work that goes into selecting and training instructors, publicizing the program, setting the curricula, and implementing our plans,” Chelluri said.
In the field, NeuroInspire works at elementary schools in the Jefferson area or in the Mount Vernon or Alexandria areas of Fairfax County. For six weeks, NeuroInspire visits an underprivileged elementary school either on Friday or Saturday and uses its curriculum of lessons and activities to bolster science interest.
As with other startups, the formation of the organization has not been without trouble. NeuroInspire has spent much of its time finding Jefferson volunteers to help with the lessons as well as elementary schools to make contact with. And with the founders having graduated from Jefferson, keeping them as part of the club has been difficult.
“It’s definitely a growing program and I can’t wait to see how much it progresses next year,” senior Seong Jang, the director of operations and recruitment, said.