The high incidence of neurological and mental illnesses in our society makes it likely that children will encounter someone they know who has been affected by a disease or disorder of the brain. The significant economic and emotional costs of neurological and mental illnesses make it imperative that we all understand the implications of these disorders and help people learn how to avoid the disorders and make better health decisions. The proposed project will develop, evaluate and disseminate a new neuroscience education resource for middle school students that focuses on the neuroactive properties of plants and herbs. The resource will be created to be culturally relevant and responsive to national and state guidelines for science standards. Research neuroscientists and classroom teachers will work collaboratively throughout the project to ensure the scientific accuracy and educational benefits of the materials. Teachers will attend a summer professional development workshop where they will learn to use the new resource. These teachers will then borrow kits to use with their students. In addition to the kits, the program will develop a summer camp for middle school students and a web site where materials can be downloaded and data can be shared. Formative and summative evaluation will be performed by an external evaluator to assess the effectiveness of each component of the new resource. Successful implementation of "Sowing the Seeds of Neuroscience" should improve student knowledge about neuroscience, provide teachers with new materials to use in the classroom, and encourage students to pursue career in science.
The project will improve public understanding, especially in middle school students, teachers and parents, about neuroscience, mental health, and neurological fitness. The resource is intended for middle school students and teachers and will consist of inquiry-based, hands-on science education activities. These activities should improve learning about health and science and encourage students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in the biomedical sciences.