We organize several hands-on learning programs for children in the community.
- Brain Awareness Week is a major outreach event coordinated by the Society for Neuroscience and serves as the largest annual outreach event for the Shreveport chapter of SFN. A group of faculty, staff, graduate, and medical students travel to elementary and middle school classrooms to perform demonstrations and activities to increase STEM engagement, specifically on topics of neuroscience and psychology including learning and memory, neuroanatomy, visual illusions, sensory processing, and concussion awareness. In the past three years, we have interacted with over 200 students in grades 4-8 at ten different schools and venues in Shreveport, including St John Berchmans, University Elementary, Southfield School, Barnes and Noble, and Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
- We participate in the Fall Wildlife Celebration at Red River National Wildlife Refuge, setting up an activity and demonstration booth to interact with many families and visitors. Young children are especially impressed by the dissection kits and models of sheep brains and cow eyes, egg-in-a-jar demonstration, and mirror-tracing activities.
- We also host a “Neuroscience with Kids” program. About 30% of the population in Shreveport lives below the poverty line. To reach children in need, we have partnered with the Community Renewal Cedar Grove Friendship House. We bring experiments, for example on sensation and perception, to children with little or no opportunity to participate in this type of activity. Our 2019 theme was “Fun with Neuroscience.” These monthly meetings contribute to the community, but they are also a rich learning experience for us, the presenters. We gain insight into community need, bond with our fellow scientists from other departments or institutions and gain hands-on teaching experience.
- Future plans include new partnerships with LSU-Shreveport, Community Renewal, and David Raines Community Health Center to expand our outreach and community engagement.