High-School Neuroscience Summer Program for Underrepresented Minorities

Program Statement
While college education is an important stepping stone for financial and personal success, it has been widely documented that students from underserved communities are not being afforded the same opportunities as their peers. This also contributes to barriers to equity and inclusivity in neuroscience research.

Our mission is to work towards rectifying these inequalities in education and increase diversity in the field of Neuroscience, to improve neuroscience research and clinical care, and to improve equity in academia and in health outcomes. We choose to do this through the high school program, as these students have not yet committed to a career path and provide a rich talent pool from which to draw.

We believe in the mantra ‘think globally and act locally’, and in beginning change with ourselves. We will therefore begin our program with high school students in the Twin Cities larger metropolitan region and will actively encourage engagement and feedback from the community to continuously improve our program. Future growth areas include expanding to other research areas and larger geographical areas.

About the Program
Go4Brains is a week-long program offered by the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota geared for 9th, 10th, and 11th grade high school students from underrepresented minorities. The program provides increased awareness of careers in neuroscience, provides students with engaging neuroscience learning activities, basic career and experimental skills, and establishes mentoring connections with faculty and students for long-term support. Throughout the week, students will attend short lectures, a poster session, and career skills workshops, learn about brain research, and make network connections. Students will learn useful and practical information for how to begin and succeed in a career within a Neuroscience field.

Statement of Immediate Goals

Engage high school students (9-11th grade) from groups underrepresented in Neuroscience with Neuroscience content in a manner which strengthens enthusiasm for the topic.

Foster curiosity and appreciation for scientific methods, including through demonstrations and direct experimentation.

Expose high school students from groups underrepresented in Neuroscience to career opportunities in Neuroscience, and give them useful, practical information for how to begin and succeed in those career paths.

Create community and provide students with a support network. This includes: Providing opportunities for team building during the program. Providing students with interactions with undergraduates pursuing careers in research. Providing an undergraduate mentor, a graduate student mentor, and a professor mentor.

Encourage ownership and continuity of education, including via student content creation, outreach and/or research participation during the school year, and welcoming students back for multiple years.

Ensure the program is accessible and demonstrate that the students and their contributions are valued, including via covering travel expenses and providing a stipend.

The Key Components of Program

  1. Short lectures (30 min) with hands-on activities to introduce students to the brain and exciting topics in neuroscience.
  2. Career skills sessions to provide students with practical advice on CV writing, applying for college, learning about scholarship opportunities, how to apply for financial help, writing, speaking and interviewing skills.
  3. Research experience with hands-on experimental skills and visit to the neuroscience research laboratories. Students will be provided with the possibility to arrange future paid research internships if interested (through available programs such as StepUp).
  4. Long term mentoring program that will match each student with one professor, graduate and undergraduate student to guide students during the week of the program and continue in this role providing advice, guidance and networking to students in future.
  5. Duration of the program is one week.
  6. This program is free. In addition, each student will receive a $400 stipend and a public transportation pass.
  7. Ten lucky students who enroll in the summer program will be selected from Twin Cities schools with recommendations/nominations from their science teachers.
  8. Students of underrepresented minorities, including African Americans, American Indians, Latinos, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders, are encouraged to apply on our website.

To find out more about the program visit us at Go4Brains website or email us at Go4Brains@umn.edu.