College of Education

Impact on Science Education

Project NEURON

Website: http://neuron.illinois.edu

Status: Completed (August 2009–June 2016)

Description

Project NEURON (Novel Education for Understanding Research On Neuroscience) brought together scientists, science educators, teachers and students. They developed and disseminated curriculum materials that connect frontier science with national and state science standards. Project NEURON to linked NIH-funded neuroscience research with educational research that examines how teachers and students learn. Project NEURON also helped teachers integrate the newly developed materials into existing state curriculum frameworks. The goals of Project NEURON were to develop and disseminate curriculum modules for use in secondary science classrooms, improve instructional practices of secondary science teachers, and improve student engagement and learning of key science concepts. In addition to developing free curriculum modules, the project created an ongoing series of professional development opportunities for teachers and graduate students. It also provided a dissemination mechanism for the modules: a website, presentations at science and science education conferences, and article submissions to peer-reviewed journals.

Outcomes and Opportunities

Over the course of seven years, Project NEURON developed a plethora of resources and opportunities: nine free curriculum units for high school biology teachers; various educational videos, games, and simulations; teacher workshops at local and national conferences; and professional and scientific research articles. In addition, Project NEURON curriculum materials were also adapted and extended in several other Impact on Science Education projects: BrainCASE: The Golden Hour, Neuroscience Day, FIND Orphy, and Project Microbe.

Partners and Funding

Project NEURON was based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The project was awarded funding through the Science Education Partnership Award of the National Institute of Health, Award Nos. R25RR024251 and R25OD011144.

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Extension Projects

BrainCASE: The Golden Hour

Website: http://neuron.illinois.edu/goldenhour

Status: Completed (January 2011– December 2012)

Description

BrainCASE: The Golden Hour is a computer game in which the player takes on the role of a medical student to help diagnose and treat a patient who has sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The game is comprised of three scenes: (Scene 1) assessing the patient’s initial condition on an Emergency Medical Services helicopter, (Scene 2) using a CT scan to examine and diagnose the injury, and (Scene 3) performing neurosurgery to treat the patient. Throughout each scene, students gather data and learn neuroscience-related concepts in order to perform necessary tasks such as treating and assessing the patient with in-game medical tools and devices. The Golden Hour can be played as a stand-alone activity, integrated within a mini-curriculum that concentrates primarily on the game , or as part of Project NEURON's larger, 7-lesson curriculum unit Why dread a bump on the head?. Supported by curriculum, The Golden Hour introduces students to the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning framework for scientific argumentation, a key scientific practice identified within the Next Generation Science Standards.

Outcomes and Opportunities

The free The Golden Hour computer game and associated curriculum materials are available online through the Project NEURON website (see link above). Research publications related to the game and curriculum will be posted when available.

Partners and Funding

BrainCASE was an extension of Project NEURON made possible by an extension grant through the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (NIH-SEPA).

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Neuroscience Day

Website: https://neuron.illinois.edu/projects/neuroscience-day

Status: Completed (March 2013)

Description

Neuroscience Day brought two days of neuroscience activities to middle and high school students in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and Sinte Gleska University in Mission, South Dakota. Seven schools participated in the Neuroscience Day events, providing over 200 students and nearly 20 teachers with an opportunity to learn about neuroscience and interact with students, scientists, educators, and medical professionals.

Outcomes and Opportunities

Adapted from Project NEURON's formal curriculum for a variety of informal education environments, eight free hands-on activity lesson plans and materials are available at the website listed above. The activities are accompanied by a Neuroscience Day Activity Booklet, which can be downloaded, printed, and completed by students as they participate.

Partners and Funding

Neuroscience Day was made possible by a collaboration between two National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (NIH-SEPA) programs: Project NEURON and Building Bridges. The "Building Bridges: Health Science Education in Native American Communities" project is a partnership between the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute (UNMC) and the Great Plains Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB) to to encourage connections between biomedical scientists, science educators, and community leaders that improve K-12 student and public understanding of the health sciences (Award No. 1 R25 RR032178-01).

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FIND Orphy

Status: Completed (January 2012–August 2013)

Description

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, FIND Orphy provided a range of informal science education opportunities for children, parents, schools, and interested community members. Weekend science activities were hosted throughout the year, which culminated a one-week summer camp for elementary students at the Orpheum. "Orphy," the Orpheum's mascot, served as a teaching mechanism to help young museum visitors relate to the project.

Partners and Funding

The FIND Orphy collaborative outreach program between Project NEURON and the  Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign, Illinois, was made possible with funding through the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement.

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