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Becoming a scientist: high school apprenticeships in neuroscience

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Totah, N., Morris, L., Lurtz, M., Waikel, R., Gray, D., & Frantz, K. (2004). Becoming a scientist: high school apprenticeships in neuroscience. Poster presented at 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2004), San Diego, CA, USA.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-11EF-E
Standard teaching in high school science classes does not fully address the idea that science is a dynamic problem-solving endeavor. Traditional approaches not only neglect the constructive argumentation and hypothesis formation that characterizes science as a discipline, but also may fail to capture student interest. Thus, students often view science as a body of finalized facts best learned by rote memorization. To counter this view and promote science literacy, we initiated the Institute on Neuroscience, an 8-week summer apprenticeship program for exceptional high school students. After a 2-week orientation via in-class, hands-on activities on topics from molecular to behavioral neuroscience, each participant spent 5 weeks conducting mentored research in a Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) laboratory. The research experience, along with intermittent workshops on scientific ethics, careers, and communication skills, culminated in an oral presentation of research findings. The program extended the CBN “pipelines and pathways” approach to improving neuroscience education. The students’ summer experience sparked their enthusiasm by engaging them in meaningful experimentation while also introducing multiple career paths in science and establishing networks in the scientific community. Students reported that their interest for the sciences increased. Apprenticeship programs such as the Institute on Neuroscience could be complementary to classroom-based education and, with effective evaluation, could inform science educators about curriculum change aimed at increasing science literacy nationwide.