It’s not every day that fourth graders get a lesson in neuroscience.
Carolyn Bernstein, MD, FAHS, of the Department of Neurology, wants to share her knowledge and enthusiasm about brain science with young students. For the past several years, she has done exactly that by teaching local children about neuroscience, most recently at the Tobin School in Mission Hill.
“I strongly believe that having one encounter with a scientist or physician in a classroom setting can be eye-opening for students and get them excited about science,” Bernstein said.
Earlier this month, Bernstein, along with Neurology resident Emily Ferenczi, MD, PhD, visited a classroom of 27 fourth-grade students at Tobin and guided them through three fun, hands-on science experiments. The experiments encouraged students to think like scientists as they learned about scientific terms, developing hypotheses and the differences between blinded and non-blinded experiments.
Bernstein and Ferenczi, who developed a curriculum that brings neuroscience to third- and fourth-grade students, learned about the opportunity to teach a lesson at the Tobin School through the BWH Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE). The CCHHE has a long-standing partnership with Tobin.
Pamela Audeh, CCHHE Youth Programs manager, said it’s inspiring to know that BWHers are willing to donate their time to teach students from the local communities that the institution serves.
“Our programs enable employees to bring pieces of the Brigham to students one lesson at a time,” Audeh said. “We want to build on these opportunities for students. We hope even more employees will volunteer to teach a lesson or talk with students about their work.”
Efrain Toledano, principal of the Tobin School, said the Brigham has played a crucial role in getting students engaged in science. Various initiatives sponsored by the CCHHE, including internship and employment opportunities for graduating seniors, have led to academic gains, he said.
“The partnership between Tobin and the Brigham is a model of how public schools and community partners can work together to have a positive impact on student achievement and the development of communities,” Toledano said.
Bernstein said the experience of seeing a child’s face light up when she walks into a classroom wearing her white coat is indescribable.
“Even a quick lesson about the brain, for example, can open a child’s eyes to science,” she said. “For me, teaching young children and answering their amazing questions are part of why I love my job so much.”
Bernstein and Ferenczi recently visited the classroom of Karen Byars, who said her students treasure every interaction with BWH staff.
“Every time students hear about what people do for work, it expands the possibilities for the trajectory of their lives,” Byars said. “When an adult takes time to share their expertise with a child, a profound change takes place. We work hard every day to guide our students toward taking their place in the adult world one day, helping to carry the torch for their generation in healing the world. Our partnership with BWH makes that work more tangible, meaningful and possible.”
To learn more about the CCHHE’s community outreach opportunities, contact Pamela Audeh at email@example.com.