School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies


Neuroscience in the Community

Brain Badge

Brain Badge is a workshop for Sparks, Brownies, Beavers, and Cubs (age 2-10 years old) in the Kingston and greater Kingston area.

The Neuroscience Outreach Program: Giving Back to the Community

By Anthony Pugh

July 2015

Brain Dissection

Children dissecting brains at Brain Awareness Day.

Graduate students often want to bring their research to the broader community. The Neuroscience Outreach Program enables students to do exactly that. This is a student run volunteer organisation that allows students from a variety of disciplines to bring their expertise to several different programs. These include lectures for seniors and the general public as well as short educational programs for kids. Participating students work together in a team, giving them a fantastic opportunity to get to know their colleagues at Queen’s. They also extend their knowledge and expertise by translating scientific research to diverse groups in a meaningful way.

Catherine Normandeau (PhD: Neuroscience) co-ordinates the Brain Badge program and trains volunteers. The Brain Badge is a pilot program which allows participating students to visit scout groups in Kingston and other local communities. Each session is adapted to the kids in the group and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. During the session, student volunteers first teach kids about the brain’s function in the body. Kids are then able to participate in a hands-on activity smashing cauliflowers. Ultimately, the program teaches kids about the importance of brain safety and wearing a helmet. Catherine particularly enjoys interacting with the kids at this program and finds their input highly stimulating. She recognizes the importance of fostering a strong connection between Queen’s and the local community. She therefore took full advantage of the chance the program offers to get involved in the community.

Brain Dissection

Participants of the SEEDS enrichment course doing their wrap up presentations on Parkinson’s Disease.

Ashley Parr (PhD: Neuroscience) is on the executive team for public lectures and has been speaking at lectures for seniors for the past four years. She does this is order to spread awareness about degenerative diseases and strokes and to teach the public about brain plasticity and encourage adult learning. Like other students in the program, she also helps out during one-off activities. These include Brain Awareness Day and the SEEDS enrichment course. Brain Awareness Day is a one day event where about 160 grade 5 students learn about the brain through hands-on activities such as the dissection of pig brains. The SEEDS enrichment course gives about 30 grade 7 and 8 students the opportunity to learn more intensively about neuroscience over the course of a couple of days. Ashley hopes that these programs will promote the sciences and encourage kids to think about careers in science when they are older. She enjoys seeing both adults and kids getting excited about science.

By reaching out through the Neuroscience Outreach Program, students help the community in a number of ways. The programs for kids both teach about brain safety and encourage those kids who are interested in science. The programs for adults build awareness of degenerative cognitive diseases and help reduce stigma. With students like Ashley and Catherine at the helm, the Neuroscience Outreach Program will no doubt continue to thrive into the future.