Mayo Clinic Brainwaves members Jeremiah Joyce, Nickolas Goranov, and Mark Li
Left to right: Brainwaves members Jeremiah Joyce, Nickolas Goranov, and Mark Li

May 1, 2019

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff


You may expect to see Ph.D. and M.D. students working in the lab, studying from behemoth-sized textbooks, or working with patients, and not in local elementary schools, but that’s where several Ph.D. and M.D. students have been spending their time as part of the neuroscience education outreach program, Brainwaves.

Brainwaves is a student-run organization with the mission to foster interest and curiosity about the brain and nervous system. The goal is to expose K-12 students to the field of neuroscience, especially those students who might otherwise lack the opportunity to learn about the brain.

“Our intention is to stimulate interest in science through interactive activities for elementary, middle school, and high school students,” said Sarah Castro, co-president of Brainwaves and an Immunology Track Ph.D. student.

By connecting Mayo medical and graduate students with K-12 students, Brainwaves members share their enthusiasm for learning about the brain through activities created to engage students in fun and interactive learning.

Brainwaves events aim to provide the mentorship and encouragement for older students to pursue higher education, especially in science and medicine.

“These kinds of events are meant to expose students to science from a fun and interesting perspective with unique demos and primarily coming from those who are in the field,” explained Castro.

One important aspect of Brainwaves is giving K-12 students opportunities to see real people in the role of scientists.

Castro said, “A scientist is not just someone who wears a lab coat with crazy hair and goggles mixing chemicals, isolated, eccentric, or a genius. We hope to show them how relatable we actually are and that a career in science and medicine is a real possibility for them.”

Brainwaves most recently went to Bear Cave Intermediate School in Stewartville, Minnesota, to work with fifth graders.

If you are interested in learning more about Brainwaves, contact castro.sarah@mayo.edu.